To Read When You’re Alone

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We all need to know that someone loves us no matter what mistakes we make, no matter what we do. That unconditional love buoys us up and allows us face life’s challenges. In this story a young man is buoyed up by his mother’s tender, encouraging letters. You may not have a mom slipping letters under your pillow but you always have the Bible. Turn to God and read His letters to you. Do it alone. Do it in a group. Either way, just turn to Him.

I was 13 years old. My family had moved to Southern California from North Florida a year before. I hit adolescence with a vengeance. I was angry and rebellious, with little regard for anything my parents had to say, particularly if it had to do with me. Like so many teenagers, I struggled to escape from anything that didn’t agree with my picture of the world. A “brilliant without need of guidance” kid, I rejected any overt offering of love. In fact, I got angry at the mention of the word love.

One night, after a particularly difficult day, I stormed into my room, shut the door and got into bed. As I lay down in the privacy of my bed, my hands slipped under my pillow. There was an envelope. I pulled it out and on the envelope it said, “To read when you’re alone.”

Since I was alone, no one would know whether I read it or not, so I opened it. It said “Mike, I know life is hard right now, I know you are frustrated and I know we don’t do everything right. I also know that I love you completely and nothing you do or say will ever change that. I am here for you if you ever need to talk, and if you don’t, that’s okay. Just know that no matter where you go or what you do in your life, I will always love you and be proud that you are my son. I’m here for you and I love you – that will never change. Love, Mom.

That was the first of several “To read when you’re alone” letters. They were never mentioned until I was an adult.

Today I travel the world helping people. I was in Sarasota, Florida, teaching a seminar when, at the end of the day, a lady came up to me and shared the difficulty she was having with her son. We walked out to the beach, and I told her of my mom’s undying love and about the “To read when you’re alone” letters. Several weeks later, I got a card that said she had written her first letter and left it for her son.

That night as I went to bed, I put my hands under my pillow and remembered the relief I felt every time I got a letter. In the midst of my turbulent teen years, the letters were the calm assurance that I could be loved in spite of me, not because of me. Just before I fell asleep I thanked God that my mom knew what I, an angry teenager, needed. Today when the seas of life get stormy, I know that just under my pillow there is that calm assurance that love – consistent, abiding, unconditional love – changes lives.

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