Fact: There’s almost nothing I love more than receiving a letter (and I love a LOT of things). Perhaps it’s because one of my top love languages is “words of affirmation,” but I think the world would be a lot better if we wrote more letters to the people we care about. There’s something meaningful about holding a piece of paper in your hands that somebody else pushed beneath their palm as they pressed their pen to the page while scrawling their thoughts on its surface.
I love seeing someone’s handwriting; their personality captured in the way the ink swoops, slashes, or squiggles across the paper. I love knowing that their words are made permanent, so I can revisit them whenever I please, regardless of the time or circumstances that have passed since it was written.
I have another reason why I believe we should write more letters: affirming letters give someone the gift of outside perspective. When we send someone a letter, we can help them see themselves in a way they might not have noticed with their own eyes. There’s no greater gift we can give someone than to uplift them up by shining a light on their value from an outside perspective.
Why is an outside perspective just so valuable? Because sometimes our own perspective is so clouded with the knowledge of our own brokenness and concerns, that we completely overlook our value.
And sometimes when we don’t see our own value, we become concerned that others do not see it either, so we feel the need to prove ourselves (and our value) to them.
This is why it is incredibly powerful to give and receive kind and honest outside perspective; it combats our blindside. It is for this reason that I keep a “Mailbox.” My “Mailbox” is a box of letters that have touched my heart, and I like to pay this mailbox a visit whenever I am having a bad day (and guys, it’s as effective as chocolate…I’m serious).
I have letters saved from various different roles I have played throughout my life: as a high school student, a camp counselor, a college kid, an intern, a daughter, a sibling, a niece, a cousin, a granddaughter, a crush, a girlfriend, a coworker, and a friend. There are but two criteria for whether or not I add these letters to my “Mailbox”:
1.The letters must be honest
2. The letters must be written in love
If a letter is truthful and comes from a good place in someone’s heart, I save it in the letterbox, and I revisit it when am having a bad day. I cheer myself up by reading the words from the people who care about me.
Words that allow me to look past myself and my situation.
I think we’ve become so concerned with self-promotion that we sometimes forget the art of encouragement. But our words were meant for so much more than convincing others of our value; maybe if we reminded others of their value, they wouldn’t feel the need to prove it to us, and the world could become just a little bit kinder and a little bit more honest.
This is why we need letters, and this is why I have decided to write you a letter today.
Words mean a lot to me, so I try my best to choose them carefully and speak them honestly. Typically, I like to tailor my letters to the person I am writing (pointing out unique traits or qualities) to affirm their value in a personal way, but since the audience of this letter is a bit broad in comparison to my usual receiver, I have written you words that I believe to be universally true to whomever may be reading. So, though it may not seem as personal as I would like it to be, please read this letter as if it were delivered to your very own mailbox.
Dear (insert your name here),
I’m really glad that you exist, even though you might not always feel noticed by the people surrounding you.
I think you’re incredibly valuable, even if you don’t always feel that way yourself.
I want you to know that you are worth so much more than someone could ever capture in a letter, including this one that I posted on my blog.
You are so much more than whatever you’re currently feeling.
You are so much more than the praise from your most recent success.
You are so much more than the gravity of your most recent failure.
You are so much more than the number of likes on your profile picture.
You are so much more than that promotion you may or may not have received at work.
You are so much more than the amount of compliments you may or may not have received today.
You are so much more than just an option to be considered for a potential job, relationship, team, or club.
You are so much more than the face that appears in your mirror.
You are so much more than the number of dates you’ve been on this year.
You are so much more than the amount of times you’ve attended or not attended church this month.
You are so much more than your GPA.
You are so much more than the boxes on your to-do list.
You are so much more than the number on your scale.
You are so much more than being just another face in the crowd.
You are so much more than that last embarrassing moment you had.
You are so much more than the words people say about you (including my own).
Kelly M. Doles