Monday, January 16, 2012

Power in the Written Word

A gravel driveway, thistle weeds and hot tar on the street don’t mix well with bare feet. For me, however, there was some sort of twisted accomplishment in setting out towards the mailbox across the street from our driveway without my shoes. Growing up on five acres, collecting the day’s mail might have felt like a chore to some. Not to me. The anticipation that our wooden box held something with my name on it gave me a hop in my step (with or without shoes on) the moment I saw the mail carrier come by.

There was something about being the first person to rifle through the stack of envelopes placed in that mail receptacle. The hope that this day, someone cared enough to drop a little change to tell me I matter. Encouragement from a friend who knew the way a heart soars to tear open a letter that simply says, “I’m thinking about you.” There was a magic about that little box and the possibility that any day a lifeline-of-sorts-on-paper could be found addressed specifically to me.

I have come a long way from being a young girl who sacrificed her feet in hopes that there would be a letter to brighten my day. At some point, I quit expecting letters decorated brightly with stickers amongst the ordinary bills and advertisements. Somewhere along the way, I decided the written word was simply a thing of the past. As the mailman quit delivering anything exciting, I came to believe the lie that others simply do not see the same magic I do in opening the mailbox each day.

In today’s day and age of email, Facebook and texting, I surrendered to the idea that the keyboard was an acceptable form of communication. Rising costs of postage added to my reasoning that the postal service no longer was an acceptable route for communication. Recently, however, I’ve found my name on letters in the mailbox again. Not on bills or advertisements, but on personalized envelopes just for me. These, along with a little encouragement from (in)courage and DaySpring, have stirred the hope from my past. 2012 is a year I commit to offering handwritten encouragement once again.

I have stacks and boxes and scrapbooks filled with written encouragement. From condolences on the death of our dads to special occasions that were marked with cards to the simple “I’m thinking about you”. In these, I am reminded of the support system surrounding me. I thumb through each one rereading their messages with the thought that I am not alone. I am loved. I am cared for. I have friends. The written word has lasting power. (My favorite are the letters written by the Apostle Paul to different churches that are now an encouragement to me as well because the written word can stand the test of time.) I’m committing to use my written word to build others up this year. Will you do the same?

(On a side note: I’m not a huge fan of Federal holidays for the simple fact that there is no mail delivery to look forward to.)

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