But a mom can hope, right?
When we sent our youngest child, Robbie, off to college last fall, I bagged up the usual assortment of dorm room must-haves: a desk lamp, twin XL sheets, laundry detergent (again, hope), and whatever random paper clips and pens I found in our junk drawer (the fourth child has no idea that there is such a thing as new school supplies). I also sent two self-addressed, stamped envelopes, along with a brief encouragement to him to write home: “Go ahead. Make my day.”
Why? I don’t know. I didn’t really expect to get a letter. But then yesterday, nearly six months after Robbie Sr. and I hid behind our sunglasses (Tears? What tears?), trying not to be the very last parents to vacate the Sewanee campus (it’s not a big school so lurking parents tend to stand out and yes, I was pretty much “that mom”), I got one.
And I was blown away.
Robbie has no idea that this is Valentine’s week. For one thing, he’s a college freshman. For another, he’s a guy. (Note to any men who are reading this post: Heads up. SATURDAY.) And I’m certain Robbie didn’t think about writing a love letter. He was probably just rooting around in his desk drawer and saw the envelope under an empty Gatorade bottle and some dirty socks and thought: Why not?
But as I held Robbie’s letter in my hand – treating it like a rare artifact that could crumble if grasped too tightly – it hit me just how powerful a simple letter can be. The fact that nobody writes them anymore makes them even more precious. In an age of texting and emails (and snap chats; I have begged my kids to set theirs so that they don’t expire for 15 seconds since it takes me at least that long to figure out what I am looking at, and if you think I could just take a screen shot then you clearly have no idea where my technological boundaries lie), getting an actual memento that you can hold – that you can clasp to your bosom the way that I imagine Magellan’s mother did when she unsealed the wax and read, “Hey Mom! It’s round!” – is just huge.
All of this is simply to say: Write someone a letter.
You don’t have to have a valentine to take advantage of the opportunity to share the love. Tell a former teacher or coach how much he or she meant in your life. Boost a neighbor’s spirits with an encouraging note. Tell your mom you love her, or even just that you appreciate how many times she got the grass stains out of your jersey. Go ahead. Make her day.
If you need a little inspiration, why not rip off the Apostle Paul? Here’s how he starts his letter to the Philippians: “I thank my God every time I remember you.”
Who wouldn’t want to open an envelope and read that?
The Bible is full of awesome little nuggets just like that, notes of hope and grace that you can tuck into your own writing, words that can speak life into the bleakest winter day. The whole thing, in fact, is really just one giant love letter, written from God’s heart to ours.
Looking for a little something to read with your morning coffee this week? Check out 1 John…right in the back, near Revelation. It’s not a long letter – just five short chapters – but it packs a whole lotta love.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1)