Why I Still Handwrite Letters

Nathan Smith Life Skills, Personal Stories

Share this Post

It’s 2018.  Everything is instant except for the stuff that matters.  Love still takes time to cultivate.  Friendship is still a work in progress.  True relationship is as hard as it has ever been though we like to fool ourselves with technology.  Truly we have more avenues to help us connect but unfortunately the speed of our technological connection has tricked many into expecting the same in relational connections.  It doesn’t work that way.  It never has and it never will. We may be 18 years into the next millennium but we’re still trying to learn the lesson of the tortoise and the hare.  Speed is exciting.  Endurance is lasting.

In the fast-paced world we’re living in the bar is increasingly dropping as it concerns ways you can make people feel valued.  That may sound bizarre but it’s true.  You are amazing if you can simply look someone in the eyes and carry on a meaningful conversation. If you can have a meal with someone without looking at your phone every 15 seconds you will likely share with them one of the most human interactions they will have all day long!  I’m not trying to be silly or critical.  Deep thought, endearing conversation and focused attention are rarities in our modern culture so if you are looking for a way to impact someone you need not spend thousands of dollars or make extravagant plans.  Just spend time with them, value their presence and give them your full attention and you will have done something extraordinary.   But we can’t always be with the people who have impacted us most.  Perhaps it’s time to get out a pen and paper? (Click Here To Read ‘Miles Apart in The Same Room’)

More Than Just Papa Johns and SuperBowls

A few years ago I was challenged by a video called ‘Peyton’s Letters’.  It didn’t highlight the career or accomplishments of the great football player, Peyton Manning.  It recognized him for the reputation he had slowly earned over the years of handwriting letters to people he felt deserved to be recognized.  From teammates to coaches, to rival competitors who were retiring to equipment managers who washed the towels at the team facility, Peyton regularly took the time to write a note of thanks.  Saying ‘thank you’ is a powerful thing.  It is becoming more and more powerful in a day and age where less is appreciated and more is expected.  Beyond saying ‘thank you’ stopping long enough to handwrite a note of thanks, look up someone’s physical address, buy a stamp, drop the letter in the mail and never fully be sure if/when the other person receives it is almost archaic.  We have no patience for such an activity.  But like anything else in this world the rarer the commodity the higher its value.

At that moment I decided to take action.  Knowing my tendency to be inspired in a moment only to fizzle out a few weeks later I chose to invest some money in simple stationary.  Nothing extravagant but enough to where I felt I had ‘skin in the game’ so that to not follow through would feel like a failure both emotionally and financially.  I then began to write.  Perhaps the most wonderful thing to come from this exercise was the list of names that poured out of me as I considered who I wanted to recognize and thank.  I didn’t realize how many people had impacted my life until I sat down to make a list.  Beyond that, there were those people that I felt I had not fully appreciated during the season of my life where they featured prominent in my day-to-day activities and I could now better recognize how they had influenced me.  Names of pastors, teachers, neighbors and friends from the past began to flood me.  What I thought would be a kind exercise in showing gratitude became a deeply impactful survey of my life and how God had richly blessed me and been extremely patient with me!  Handwriting letters has become one of my favorite activities.  Not because I like my handwriting or because I enjoy stressing out over my spelling (God bless spellcheck!) but because I feel I have been given an opportunity to speak life and value into people that have done the same for me. (Click Here To Read ‘Are You Driven By Gratitude?’)

It Matters

I don’t always know that people receive my letters.  Truth is, I seldom hear from anyone I write to.  But there are those rare moments when a strange envelope shows up in the mail that isn’t trying to sell me something or lie to me promising a free vacation.  It’s a note from someone I have not seen or heard from in many years letting me know they received my letter and the impact my words had, how timely they seemed to show up in their lives and the way God encouraged them through the simple act of sending them a sheet of paper in the mail that said ‘thank you.’ (Click Here To Read ‘Relationships Aren’t Efficient’)

Start today. Make a list.  Go to lunch by yourself for a change and instead of spending an hour on your phone consuming photos of other people’s food or reading articles on who wore what to an event you’ll never be invited to write a letter to someone who made an impact in your life.  It might just show up in their mailbox on the day they needed it most. If not, I can at least guarantee it will impact you on the day you sit down and write it.

From The Bible

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. – Proverbs 25:11 ESV

A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word! – Proverbs 15:23 NIV 

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. – Philippians 2:1-3 NIV

Share this Post