When I was in 6th grade, I competed in the district spelling bee and lost because I added one letter to a word. My 6th-grade son recently competed in his school’s spelling bee and missed a word by forgetting one letter.
One letter matters.
In the world of spelling, one letter means the difference of staying “in” the competition or being “out.”
For enthusiastic writers who are vulnerably casting out their manuscripts only to be met with a flood of rejection letters, ONE letter of acceptance matters. One letter shifts the novice writer from being an amateur to being “in” as a published author. This inclusion is savored.
For the widow that spends many hours and even days alone, receiving a single handwritten note makes a meaningful difference. One letter can change her perspective from feeling lonely to loved. She feels remembered.
When a spouse is deployed overseas and is feeling the weight of isolation and homesickness, one letter from a loved one back home draws him a little closer to family. A familiar scrawl or silly doodle on the envelope tugs those hearts together a little tighter. He feels connected.
In a world of digital pictures and casual greetings available through Facebook and texts, even one handwritten letter delivered by snail mail on your birthday can transform all those virtual well wishes into a tangible token of love. There’s something special about holding a letter in your own hand that was in your friend’s hand just a few days ago. One letter can ground you, reminding you of a precious friendship. You feel known.
So last week when I was fighting a head cold and clutching my kleenex box, I hunkered down and wrote some letters:
- to my son traveling on an exchange trip to China, hiding one in his suitcase under a box of Thin Mints and giving another letter to a friend to deliver to him midway through their trip (the potential embarrassment, I think, is worth a little sneakiness!)
- to a Chinese couple whom I may never meet, but I’m entrusting the care of my 16-year-old son to them for 3 weeks while they generously host him in their home (sigh)
- to a nephew, apologizing for belated birthday wishes
- to an aunt undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, offering hope and encouragement while also recognizing her strength
- a “thank you” to a loved one who sewed some pillows for me that I’ve been “planning” for years. Confession: I cheated on this one. I took a picture of the pillows tucked into their new nook and a sent her a text of gratitude. (Go Bears!)
- to a college friend, wishing her the joys of another birthday
Throughout the week as I wrote to each person, I focused on the recipient. I considered their particular situation, reflecting on the connection between us and conjuring up some words to send their way. Before long, I was no longer aware of my stuffy head and my pesky cough. My mood improved as I redirected my attention to a loved one or reminisced about a dear friend.
Aligning letters on paper to transform them into a message to someone else is a magical thing, something we often taken for granted.
Words are used a lot of different ways in our home. We are seekers of knowledge and explorers of the written word. Our bookshelves are weighed down with words.
The boys are always working on a vocabulary list or conjugating verbs in a language I don’t understand.
Words surround us.
Letters weave in and out of our home daily, an endless merry-go-round of giving and receiving. Some of them we glance over; some of them stop us in our tracks. One letter can shift the atmosphere around us, crackling with anticipation or casting a somber chill.
Which letter do you cling to most?
The letter that I’m drawn back to again and again is the Word of God. Each time I read it, I gain a new perspective and gain a deeper understanding of something bigger than me. It stirs my soul.
I’m grateful for this ultimate gift. The holy Word is God’s letter to us.
It’s full of wisdom and adventure, heartbreak and triumph, joy and strength, loss and redemption, strife and struggle…but most of all, its message is love. It offers us hope.
——->>>>> THIS one letter makes all the difference to me.
“Every word of God is flawless.” Proverbs 30:5a