Write the Letter, Make the Call

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.  Psalm 136:1

Robert Emmons, in his book Thanks!, tells the story of a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who asked students to pay a gratitude visit.  Here was the plan.  First, write a 300 word letter to the person you are going to visit. Tell the story of what they did, the difference it made in your life, aand where you are now as a result.  When you complete your letter, call the person and say, “I want to come visit you.”  But, you don’t say why.  Then visit and share your letter in person by reading it.  The students responded and hundreds of people had amazing experiences doing this. The almost universal response we tears of joy over the thankfulness they hear.

One student was big tough guy who wrote a letter to his parents explaining the sacrifices they made to raise him and his younger brother.  He detailed how much he and his brother loved and respected their parents. He decided after writing it that he would never share it with his parents.  He’d be too embarrassed.

Later that year when he was home for Christmas vacation, his little brother was seriously injured in an auto accident. After he was taken to the emergency room his parents arrived to see him. Sadly, his brother died that day.  After returning home from the hospital the parents were inconsolable.  They had loved their son and invested so much in him.

The older son decided he needed to share the letter he had written, describing how he and his younger brother had been loved and cared for so faithfully over the years.  It was his gratitude that ministered to them at the most significant emotional event they ever had as a family.  His gratitude became the bandages that bound up the wounds of their grief.

Reading about this incident was a reminder to express gratitude, to make the phone call, to write the letter, to put our thanks into words–not to let it go unspoken.  Of course, giving thanks is a command of God.  He tells us to

Give thanks in all circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

In the season of thanksgiving I have wondered: why have I failed to give thanks?  There are words of love and affirmation we fail to express.  I am not sure why.  Perhaps, we feel like we are giving away some great treasure when we thank someone or when we speak well to them.  I thought about this this weekend. After my sermon on gratitude. I had the privilege of thanking some amazing people, and then I wondered why I had not thanked them before. Why did I withhold praise?

It is the overflow of God’s grace that begets gratitude, receiving and seeing what God has given to us.  It is seeing life as the precious gift from God that it is.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Sandy on February 15, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    We should all do this.

    Reply

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