“Nannygranne, What Does it Mean ‘I Love You’?”


            Having finished a bedtime story, prayers, a sip of water, and every imaginable bedtime ritual, Nannygranne finally tucked little Abby into bed.  This little sparkler had made for a busy day.  With Abby around, every moment was an adventure.  As she reached to turn out the light she said, “Goodnight Sweet Abby.  I love you.

            At that, a little cherub voice said, “Nannygranne, what does it mean, ‘I love you’?”

            Nannygranne knew it was another ploy to delay sleep, but they both knew that a question in this house would never go unanswered.  Besides, this question was pure gold.

            Nannygranne stopped, took a deep breath and smiled at the little girl.   Slowly she settled beside Abby, sitting on the bed.  “What do you mean when you say ‘I love you?’?”

            “I mean that I like you,” she responded.

            “Tell me about times when you’ve said, ‘I love you’ then.”

            Abby tucked her arms behind her head, looking thoughtfully up to the ceiling.  Finally, she began to list her memories. “I told my kitty I love her.  I told Mommy I loved her cookies.  I told Grandad I love him.  I told Jesus I love Him.  I told you I love my new shoes.”  Then pausing, she added, “That was today…” and was about to continue.

            “Ok, let’s think about those times first and then if we have time we’ll think about other times.  Is that ok?”

            “Yes.  That will work for me,” she chirped.

            “Well, I love that you love so many things.  You have a beautiful heart with so much love in it.  I think God gives you a heart that runs over with love.  In fact, the Bible says that God is love.”  

               Nannygranne stopped, catching her breath.  Eyes wide, she said, “Abby!  I just thought of something.  If God is love and your heart is full of love, then your heart is full of God!”

            Abby’s bright eyes lit up.  “It is?  Wow!  I can’t wait to tell Grandad!”

            Nannygranne stopped.  Then, with head tilted and a finger upon her chin, she said, “But wait.  You said you love your Grandad and you love your new shoes.  Which love is bigger in your heart:  your Grandad love or your shoe love?”

            Abby thought carefully, then answered, having just discovered a Truth.  “My Grandad love is very big and my Mommy and Daddy love is very VERY big.  My kitty love is big, too.  But my shoe love and my cookie love are just…”  Then she thought further.  “I think my shoe love and my cookie love is really just like.”

            “Abby, you just make my heart smile, did you know that?”  Nannygranne again tucked the cover around Abby and replaced her favorite stuffed elephant.  “But Abby, there’s the biggest love of all.  It’s a love so big that it has to be planted in our hearts by God and grow there.  It’s God love and it’s the kind of love that loves even when it hurts to keep loving.  Jesus loved us with that kind of love and that’s why He came from Heaven to this old world and showed us how to love people.  Then He loved us so much that He died for our sins so we wouldn’t have to.  We hurt His feelings so much, but He keeps helping us do better and wants us to be with Him if we’ll come to Him.  That’s the biggest love of all.”            

The silence made Nannygranne realize that Abby had fallen asleep.  She brushed a curl away from the little girl’s eyes with a prayer that Abby’s zest for life and love would always lead her to search for the biggest love of all.  That would be the only true source of satisfaction and deep purpose wherever life should take her.


I am a mother, grandmother, nanny, and writer—with a passionate concern about children, all children. With the help of my son Travis (who has a graduate degree in apologetics) I hope to share some thoughts that will be helpful to all who have the same concern.

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