They came almost weekly while we were growing up, letters from our dad. Typed on an antique typewriter, they always started with the same salutation: “How are my two best girls?” They were filled mostly with questions to my sister and me, assuring a return letter would arrive in Dad’s mailbox. I didn’t know it then, but there were lessons in his letters.
Dad lived one state away after our parents divorced. He faithfully visited his “two best girls” monthly, taking us to movies, the zoo, and the local amusement park where we rode Ferris wheels and tilt-a-whirls. Between visits, the letters came asking about school, friends, grades, and plans for his next visit with us.
Many of the lessons of our childhood are realized only later, as we find ourselves responding in certain ways and we suddenly remember where our values came from. Dad’s letters showed me how to encourage: sending notes and cards to friends and family when God puts them on my heart, passing the lesson on to our Sunday school children by having them make their own cards to send to our elderly shut-ins. The letters taught me thankfulness: acknowledging gifts in writing, and making a point to send thank-you’s to those who help in service at church. I learned acknowledgment: rejoicing with others in their accomplishments, giving honor where it is due. The letters taught me something else, communication: sharing parts of my life with someone, asking them about what’s important in their life.
Being a servant of Christ means seeing His Word in everything, even lessons from letters:
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it” (2 Timothy 3:14).
My sister and I still have several of Dad’s letters to us, yellowed by passing years. Now that he is gone, it comforts us to look back at his words and remember our times with him. When he passed away, we went through all of his personal belongings. What did we find, tucked away for safe keeping? Our replies to those letters sent to us so long ago.
Who can you credit with teaching you character lessons? How can you pass on valuable teaching to others?