When I was writing about Lent, an odd theme kept cropping up: relationships. It seemed off–I grew up associating Lent with repentance, sorrow and fasting. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the purpose of repentance, sorrow and fasting is to mend the broken relationship with God. I came to understand Lent as a journey, one foot in front of the other, on a path that leads to intimacy with Him.
As I thought about mending relationship with God, I kept thinking about other relationships that need healing and strengthening. I kept thinking about how our love for God is measured by our love for others. And I thought of one of my sisters, with whom childhood was a perpetual battle of unkindness, and how, in young adulthood, our unresolved childhood angst piled up until we had a huge fight and didn’t speak for a year.
I realized that the relationship with God and the relationship with our loved ones run parallel. Maybe they’re even one and the same. So I came up with writing Sunday love letters to family members.
The idea is to write a letter to a different family member each week, focusing on what we love about them (not what drives us crazy–because let’s face it, that’s the part we notice most often), underscoring the ways in which we see God in them, and perhaps healing breaches.
We haven’t gotten it done every week. It’s been a crazy busy Lent so far. But we’ve done it twice now, and now I know that idea was inSpiration.
Here is what the first week looked like:
The second time–yesterday–we wrote notes on leaves instead. The small format works well for little kids in big families. I read my note to Alex:
Do you know that Grandma said last night that every time you walk in, the whole room lights up? I am so amazed when I look at you.
You are JUST LIKE ME.
I love you so much.
Alex stood silently for a minute, then made a dash for his Spiderman game with a suspicious look on his face. “Alex,” I said, “are you crying?”
“No!” he said. (Duh, Mommy!) He returned to whacking bad guys with spiderwebs. “But my eyes are watering.”
Focusing on relationships can be uncomfortable.
But it is also beautiful.
What a beautiful idea! How much better our childhoods would have been if we had focused on what we love in the other person. If it’s any consolation, though, the closer we get to God, the more our relationships seem to be able to be repaired. Probably it’s because we start seeing family members through the eyes of God and not our own.
I may have to steal this idea, with a twist. 🙂 I’d love to have Andrew write and send love letters to his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. I’m guessing anyone one of them would love getting a hand-written letter in the mail from him.
Actually in the book I suggest expanding outward if the family is small…so I say go for it!
Simply tremendous. Love the “but my eyes are watering” I knew an old sweet man who told me that his eyes were sweating. Thanks.
Reblogged this on Into Stillness and commented:
Just the thing for Passion Tide.