The Letter That Brought Sweet Relief…
It arrived on a busy Saturday morning in May. A day typically filled with numerous last minute preparations for our Sunday services.
On first glance of the letter, I smiled. My daughter with the artistic flare had creatively addressed the envelope, making for such anticipation of what awaited on the inside.
I decided to wait until my work was done before I would treat myself to reading her Mother’s Day message. The proverbial carrot now dangled in front of me, would be incentive enough for me to finish my projects quickly.
Have you ever noticed how instantly your eyes brighten when a lovely piece of personal mail arrives amidst the ordinary stack of bills and flyers? There’s really nothing quite like receiving the pleasant unexpected!
The evening finally came. The work was done. And I sat down to rest.
And to read.
For those who know me, it should come as no surprise to learn that in my thirty years of raising children, I have striven for utter perfection in my role as a mother. Though never spoken aloud, my clearly apparent aspiration was to become the rare and illusive maternal being without spot or blemish. A species so rare, in fact, that no one has ever actually seen such a creature.
And time and again, I have found it impossible to live up to this state of perfection. This has caused me to spend most of the last 11,150 nights, rehearsing all of the times that I clearly missed the mark of my unrealistic expectations.
Let’s face it. Parenting is tough. Molding and shaping the hearts and minds of the little people who will one day change the world, is a weighty responsibility. It’s too easy to get it wrong; and if not for grace, pretty difficult to get it right.
If you’ve ever struggled with the feelings of inadequacy that come with the role of parenting, or pastoring, or teaching, or leading of any kind, then you’ve likely discovered that the path of serving others can be a dry and dusty one. You can find your soul withered and thirsting for relief. And most of the time, you’ll plod the path with ne’er a word of encouragement from those who demand the most from you.
As I began reading her grace-filled sentiments, intentionally highlighting all of the things she appreciated in me, I became undone. Visibly undone. With shoulders slumped, tears flowing, and vision blurred, I struggled to read the words that I had so desperately needed to hear for far too long!
A word of good news.
A pat on the back, for what she described, was a job well done.
Words not written in flattery. But genuine words of encouragement to the woman she knew struggled with the guilt of countless flawed actions and poor decisions. Words of praise to the woman whose own unrealistic expectations of herself had left her dejected and hopeless.
Her letter encouraged me to stop focusing on everything I hadn’t done well; but rather to look on all of the things that I had done in love and to the best of my ability. And in her own tender-hearted way, she began to list some of my successes and accomplishments in my role of raising four children.
And on that day, as the tears fell, the parched ground of my soul began to soak up the reviving waters of grace. The impact of the good news shared from a distant land was indeed the sweetest cup of cool water. And my soul drank thirstily.
Her words filled with sincerity and love brought a relief that I cannot begin to describe. It also brought a freedom to accept my past for all that it held. The good. The bad. And the pretty darn ugly.
This morning, more than a year later, I read the letter again. The tears fell. Again.
Another cool sip from the cup of good news.
The gift of a letter has the capability of doing that, you know. Unlike a verbal conversation that is heard once and then forgotten over time, a letter saved, can refresh a soul over and over with each passing read.
This is why I’m passionate about the letter writing projects that we’ll explore in this journey found here.
I placed her gift carefully back on my desk, wiped the tears and smiled.
Words of grace.
I’m reminded that I, too, am given multiple opportunities to extend a cup of grace.
You are as well.
Writing the letter to a weary soul is just what the prophet spoke of when he said,
“…the Lord awakens me early in the morning to bring a word in season to him who is weary.” Isaiah 50:4
May we send refreshing news to a tired soul this week; and may we breathe life into a weary one today.
Question of the Day
Have you ever received a timely word of encouragement during a rough season in life? How did it make you feel? Leave a comment below and let me know!