Letters from the Past

Reading Old Letters,1999 by Maria Jose Aguilar Gutierrez

I’ve been working on the spare room, going through all the boxes of stuff that weren’t critical or that we weren’t sure what to do with. I found a few interesting things that made me feel like writing.

I found letters from my first “crush.” We were both outsiders, on the fringe, so we banded together for company. Soon, I found that I depended on the time of talking to him after church every Sunday. This was when I was 12. He’d been leaving messages in our car, in my coat pockets, or in the church foyer for awhile. I didn’t know I actually kept all of those little notes, and all the letters! We secretly wrote to each other when it became clear that my parents didn’t approve of our “friendship.” It was giddily exciting and romantic, and a really bad idea! He was thoughtful, always knew what to say to cheer me up, was always there for me….and wanted to marry me once I finished high school. That’s where the problem lay: I knew God had other plans for me. Looking him in the eyes and telling him we couldn’t be friends anymore was the hardest thing I’d ever done up to that point. I felt like he was my only friend in the world. After a long while we became friends again, but didn’t go over so well when I started dating a different guy. He said things about my boyfriend that I didn’t like, I got mad, he got mad, I stopped talking to him, he tried harder to talk to me- it came to a rocky, painful end. He definitely wasn’t without blame, but I wish it hadn’t ended like it did.

I put those letters in stack in the middle of the floor.

iStock, collectingpapermemories.com

I found a little envelope, and laughed out loud at the contents. Inside was one heart shaped, foil wrapped German chocolate, a graduation invitation, a thank you card for attending the said graduation open house, two church bulletins-one from a midnight Christmas Eve service and one from a Sunday in the spring, and a letter I wrote to the giver of those items after we broke up, and obviously never delivered. It was a very nice letter, actually. I have NO idea why I kept this stuff! It wasn’t even very related to our relationship, except maybe the Christmas Eve bulletin. I didn’t feel any regrets reading them; I have lots of good memories, and I’ve forgiven and forgotten the rest.

I added the envelope to the pile. 

I found papers I’d written for classes in high school, notes from my favorite teachers, notes from my least favorite teacher, conversations scribbled between me and my friend who sat next to me in choir.

I found memories, sad, fond, encouraging, disheartening, revealing, and humorous. But I don’t need these letters anymore. The memories will stay with me for a long time. The memories of people I looked to for validation and love, instead of resting in Christ’s alone. The memories of people I tried to please and failed.   The memories of relationships broken, and some restored. It’s my prayer that they will all be restored one day. 

Isn’t the love of God something wonderful? He knows us, better than we know ourselves, and He still chose us. I’ve been reading Ephesians, and this passage stood out to me: 

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2: 1-10)

I paraphrased and personalized it this way in my journal: 

Oh God, I praise you for your mercy that loved when I was lost in sin. You see Christ’s payment on the cross when you look at me. You saved me to showcase the riches of your grace. I am your workmanship, created new for your purpose – doing good. Thank you for preparing a plan for my life.

God’s love is free! And it’s unconditional! Let’s reflect on that today. And, let’s show that kind of love to someone else today!

  • What a wonderful look into the past! I have thinned out my letters throughout the years, but there are some that I can't part with – notes with my grandparent's handwriting, now departed, a silly letter from a crush in high school, notes from my high school best friend who I haven't seen in years. Nice to look back on the truly good and belived times.

    xo Erin