I was finishing a letter-writing workshop with a group of high school parents, and my college-aged daughter was sitting in the back of the room at her alma mater. On the way to the event, she’d given me these instructions: “Don’t call me out, Mom. I just want to play your music for you.”
Imagine my surprise when her hand went up at the end of the session. The words she shared with the parents were profound: “I’ve grown up getting letters like this from my mom. And it always makes me uncomfortable to read them in front of her. But I always go in my room…close the door…and read them over and over again.”
You could have heard a pin drop in the room.
The message I took away from that is one that I continue to share:
Give with open hands.
Give without expectation of a response.
Whether it’s an affirming letter to someone we love or some other type of gift…isn’t that really how we should give? Freely? Generously? From the heart? Without strings attached?
I’m as guilty as the next person of hoping for a positive response. But if my motives are right…if I am really trying to encourage the other person with my written words…it’s not about me. It’s about them. It’s about trying to “pour courage” into them. To let someone know they are special…valued…treasured. To help them see things about themselves that they might not see.
In this world of text messages and 140 character tweets, much of our written communication is fleeting. That’s what makes the impact of a written (or typed) letter even more dramatic.
Who in your life needs to receive some affirming words from you…in writing?
You’ll never know when those words might provide just the support or encouragement a person needs. Words that can be read over and over again. Words that say “I believe in you.” “You matter.”