Do You Need to Write a Letter?

It all started in my heart with Jefferson.

Well, no, really it started when I was so young I could barely see over the top of a desk drawer, probably in the year 1953.

In that desk drawer was a Big Chief tablet. I know it was in there and although I was very little, I’d stand tip toe to find it, to no avail. I knew it was mine because my mom had let me scribble in it one time.

But I’d never seen it after that.

Often I’d ask my mom for my “medicine book”. She had no idea what on earth! I told her it was in the drawer, but she never figured it out.

I got a tad older and a smidgen taller, and lo! I spied my medicine book in that drawer, finally! I remember the day! And finally I got to write in it again.

It was years later when I explained to my poor mom why, to me, that writing tablet was a medicine book.

As I grew up in a stable, loving home, I began noticing people wrote letters. Specifically, my mom wrote, often, to her mom. I could pick out a penciled letter from my gramma to this day. I knew her writing; it is still so familiar to me, as is my mom’s.

Even later, when I was a gramma, myself, I learned of many more letters my mom had stored in all her estate collections. Letters came from her sisters that she had cherished, that I now cherish. What a gift to learn that my mom’s big sister had thought she was “the nicest baby, ever…”!

These women left behind a legacy of connection to their personalities, as they shone brightly through their words of love.

I remember when handwriting analysis was a popular fad, as a method of determining your personality type. But I think the constancy of writing and the loving content say as much or more about a person than penmanship does.

And I loved their signatures. I marveled at cursive writing I could not copy—though I tried—and envied the speed with which they wrote.

Do you need to write?Sometimes, even now, my writing looks like my mom’s, which is okay with me, and makes sense, after all, because my hands also look like hers.

When it comes to real penmanship (or lack of it—as in my dad’s case) I might be a collector. I’ve mastered several writing styles and considered others. D’Nealian, Spencerian, and a few loopy styles with small hearts for punctuation, were among my sidetracks on the road to my own signature. I finally discovered the more recent Getty-Dubay, as a landing place.

However when I forget that I’ve adopted a certain style, my hand returns to my matriarchs and I watch with a wry smile, as my mom’s spare and simple etchings scoot across the page. Or my gramma’s.

They say Lucy Ball had several official signatures for checks, autographs, contracts, etc.

And then there was Jefferson, the man whose astonishingly beautiful hand (using ink!) was in part responsible for his being the writer of our Declaration of Independence. And I think of John and Abigail Adams patiently recording the aching history of our country, along with their aching love for each other, over years of separation, in letters to each other.

Then I consider us, these days, and our writing habits to each other. I should say “typing habits”. Or is it “keyboarding”? Our yucky, guttural acronyms, smh! Our fbmsg’ing trade slang—tell me, do these show our trite personalities?

Can it be said that the appreciation and care we once had for each other is missing as we neglect taking time to share our words in an artistic way, these days?

Or is it our lifestyles that are bereaved, causing us to fail at grasping the value of time, itself, of words shared, and of the beauty of a personality revealed in the hand?

You may think people used to write. You may think no one expects it, anymore. You are absolutely right. Which makes a letter all the more precious.

I won a writing contest one time, on a hugely famous site that doesn’t really matter to this story. But what happened after that does matter:

I did not just pocket the money and gloat on the website. I noticed a tiny address at the bottom of every email the owner had sent me, and I got out my girly, lavender, sparkly notecards and wrote him a thank-you note.

And you know what? This guy who wrangles many assistants and thousands of joyful fans and millions of dollars, sent me a private email! He said he got the note and—drumroll please—it made his day! Or maybe he asked someone to send it for him, but he noticed and made that connection.

It was my mom, speaking in my memory, teaching me years ago, to write a thank-you note. I remember she said it was imperative.

Write! It is imperative.

Pencil something to someone.

Or ink it if you dare.

And make it good, coming from your heart.

For your grandchildren someday.

crystal

Are you OCD? And Where Are You Hurt?

You are not a high-paid member of the housekeeping staff in an enormous, private home. Nope.

You reach into the dishwasher and take out a glass. You completely dry it. You open the glassware cabinet. You carefully turn the glass with the monogram facing outward, handling it with the towel, not leaving any fingerprints on it. You set it on the shelf next to it’s siblings inside the cabinet without touching it to the others. You close the cabinet. You reach into the dishwasher for the next glass, and repeat. Drying dishes takes about a half of an hour—and two towels, since they must be perfectly dry.

Yep.

You know it.

Oh, your fear may not let you admit it, but you know it—you are hurting.

Wounded.

Something deep inside you still reacts, still needs healing, still, still, still festers from long ago. “Getting over it” may be a learned lifestyle for many, but not for you. Actually, you thought you were over it.

I need to tell you, and you need to hear it:

The parts of life you are OCD about are the parts of life where you still hurt.

OCD? Hurt?And I need to tell you why.

If I can make this make sense to you, you can be better. You can be well. You can be free.

So see if you can make sense of it. This matters a lot. It matters to your family. It matters to you. It matters to me.

  • There are a lot of germs out there, and folks at church keep bringing their sick kids in. You just cannot afford to be sick so you wash your hands. You wash before you use the restroom and after you use it. Then you wash the lavatory and all the handles of the stalls and the door to the room. Then you wash your hands again.
  • Your mother nearly burned the house down with a forgotten candle, once, so you make sure all candles are blown out before you leave the house. You make sure the stove is off, although you never used it today. You unplug all appliances, too, before you head for the car. Then you return, shaking your head, to double check the candles for smoldering wicks. Then you double check the stove and all the appliances, and decide to turn off the AC. Finally you leave, but you almost turn around to repeat the double-checking.
  • You are not sure if you are good enough for God because you know you have sins in your life. So you make sure when you go to church, every hair on your head is perfectly arranged. Your clothing is not too short or too long or too red or too thin or too tight or too loose. You make sure of the same for all of your children and for your husband. You sit in a certain order in the car as you proceed to church and you sit in a certain order once you arrive. All seems well. You hope.

Variations to these OCD reactions abound. We cannot control everything, prevent everything, that comes our way. But we want to. Oh, how we want to! So we keep trying.

I know how the the above bad reactions get a hold on us!

Are you OCD? Or are you hurting?I was feeling particularly hurt, one night and I let it get to me. I did not want to cry, so I decided to absorb the woundedness I had experienced and just carry on.

A deep calm came over me. I remember I was putting away clean flatware and cooking utensils. I dried each one slowly and carefully. It would be fair to say I polished them. I organized the drawers where they belonged and set each fork or spoon inside its cousin, perfectly arranged in small stacks and completely tidy.

The orderly look was soothing to my hurt soul. It helped. The order created a relaxation in me that seemed as if all was dependable, all was well. As I “loved on” those pieces of my kitchen, my heartbeat slowed, my shoulders relaxed, and a realization came over me that I was totally sovereign over those small domains and, there, at least, nothing could go wrong.

And I discovered how helpful, calming, and relieving it was to be in control. even if only of the silverware drawer. I analyzed my feelings and easily realized how simply and quickly the OCD pattern had grabbed me and sucked me in.  As I continued, I considered how, when I was a teen, if I were to become angry about anything, I could begin feeling a lot better and burn off some angry energy at the same time, by cleaning a closet.

I had very clean closets in my youth. The rest of my life was a mess, but the closets made me feel like at least my closets were better than everyone else’s.

For what that was worth.

Variations to this predicament abound. Sadly, you are not alone. However you can conquer this thing that robs you of joy and of time. There is another way. Trust me!

You can give it all away!

No, I don’t mean your stuff, although if you hoard, in order to feel safe, you might need to. But whatever you do that has made you addicted to certain actions, to get that peace cloud shedding peaceful rain over your head, it is not good if it is not working for you, but against you.

You see, when you choose to absorb the hurt, instead of giving it away, you damage yourself and can force yourself to do some very odd things, like wasting a half-hour to rule over all the silverware. Or wash your hands until the skin is coming off. Or save every single cash register tape from since the beginning of your marriage. Or come back home six times to be sure the stove is still off.

It’s so debilitating and it’s so unnecessary!

Why not just go to Jesus and get Him to take all your hurt away. Then you could afford some freedom in your life.

Because He bought you some.

When Man Loves Woman

2 Kinds of Love?! Uh-oh . . .

“All you need is love. All you need is love. All you need is lo-ove. Love is all you need.”

I’m so glad those days are gone!

Besides, love is not all you need, although it comes close.

You also need a definition.

Because we SO pervert the meanings of bedroom words these days.

So today we will just stop and talk about regular, human, marital love, as we find it around us, when it’s attempting to be genuine. You know, the kind of love they say to make sure is REAL before you get married?

Okay, here goes!

There are at least two kinds of marital love that claim to be the real deal and to be the goal. Most often, we find either one or the other in a marriage, and not both. And probably that’s not good, unless something heavily special is going on.

Like Napoleon and Jose—no, I mean, like Antony and Cle—no, I mean like Romeo and Juli . . .

Hmm.

Yep. Some of the most famous love stories were disasters, weren’t they!

We don’t want what they had, do we! NO!

We want stability, hope, friendship, respect! YES!

We want things many star-studded marriages throw away for a few nights of illegal pleasure.

So here goes, the first definition for that elusive first kind of love, the kind we normally think of when we contemplate a marriage.

Love Type One—

Two Kinds of Love?!Lots of people think they are experiencing love when they notice a new neighbor.

Whether in the neighborhood, in class, on the job, at church, etc., if he is smart, cute, friendly, etc., he may be “the ONE”!

They have a lot of fun, flirting.

One or the other, or both, begin trying to figure out how they could be together forever, etc.

If someone asks if it’s the “real thing” they don’t want to think about it.
In fact, that can be the definition:
If you no longer want to know if this is the real one, then it is.

Yeah.

So the stability of the relationship we are building is hung upon using hot hormones as the mortar, which, wow, actually IS intended to be the magnet in a marriage, but the entire purpose of hormones is to boost the mechanics of “be fruitful and multiply”, NOT to be the only glue for keeping it all glued together.

However, just as fast as they slide in and flair up, hormones also can slip away and fade. Yep.

Hormones even can schuss clean off the mountain, sometimes, from one flower to another, sometimes hopping about like rabbits, and sometimes just as prolific.

If the hormone-infused couple happens to be married, (to each other—why do I have to say that?) then at this “fading” point, the honeymoon might be beginning to halt.

And sometimes it doesn’t take very long.

Love Type Two—

2 Kinds of Love?!As we age, we learn to figure a few things out.

Often, then, it is too late, but not always.

Sometimes we find a couple who have basically a “love-to-hate-you” relationship.

It can be so frustrating to watch. I’m sure it must be frustrating and disorientating to be inside it.

Often, one or the other member of this pair is smart enough not to trust the “fast-flair” type of “love” just described above.

They cannot stand to look at each other, but it can be maturity that motivates.

However, being fearful of trusting too fast, of loving the wrong one, of any and all mistakes, can be just as crippling as being everlastingly eager to jump into something too fast.

Often this couple of hate/lovebirds views each other as a last resort, or an “old friend” who is not much of a prize. If they spend time together at all, it is after reckoning carefully the risk of being seen together, even by each other.

It’s the topic of many a comedy in the movies, especially starring Spencer and Katharine.

At the last, most desperate moment, the arrival of a modicum of awareness causes each to notice he actually has personal moments of neediness, and also to notice how completely relieving it is to know someone reliable.

Finally, gratefulness gallops to the rescue and we see the claws being tucked in and the fur sinking until we begin to hope for these two poor souls.

THE MIDDLE GROUND—where it all begins to make sense.

There is a lot of space between the two types of love we’ve discussed and room for many, many unhappy ones to float around, unresolved, unloved, unfulfilled, unrequited—un-everything!

In this group we find:
The Semper-single (with or without parents in the background)
The I’ve seen the village and I’ll raise myself thank-you types
The ever-entrenched in making a fortune that never arrives (denial on steroids, or on SOMETHING!)
The oft-divorced (aka: the impatient)
And even the gender-confused and re-confused (and full of blaming).

Don’t shudder too fast, friends, because in this group we also find (drumroll, please!) the STILL MARRIED AFTER ALL THESE YEARS!!!

These dear, long-lasting ones may have begun with a fast flair, yes.

However, they have arrived at maturity and appreciation for each other, at easy friendship, relaxed conversations, and comfortable silences, as they work and play together.

The harmony is palpable and very attractive. The glances, the touches, the calm, and the ease all inspire.

These who have arrived on the other side of the void are the beacons who cause us to want to do better, to be more patient, and to smile more.

Their honest effort, patient forgiveness, and their sheer ability to overcome the doldrums and to blow past the stubbornness of self-serving can give us awe.

These are the enduring because of being durable.

These are the weeping but reaping ones.

These are the ones who can wait to figure out if faults, as well as the fun-flair of hormones, can fade.

Because if faults can go away as easily as fun can flair, a lot of invested hard work can be salvaged and a lot of happily-ever-after harvesting can finally be realized.

And it’s worth it, being one of those.

So, wait.

Mix your hormones in with some of that dependability and see if it isn’t just the bridge you need over the storm between the fun and the harvest.

Yes, I’m talking to you. And to me. ❤