Love Letters and Deleted E-mails

I have mentioned before that my love language is gifts (Love and Llamas). Any gift, even the simplest coffee or piece of candy, completely fills me with joy and makes my day. Dan has more than mastered my love language and throughout the years has surprised me with the best gifts.

According to Gary Chapman, author of “The Five Love Languages”, each of us shows and receives love in five ways –

  1. Gifts: If this is your love language, you appreciate any thoughtful gift. A small gift completely brightens your day, and a large gift leaves you floating for weeks.
  2. Quality Time: If this is your love language, you want may find yourself wishing for more time with your people. It’s more than just sitting in a room together, it’s about having someones full attention for more than a few moments.
  3. Physical Touch: If this is your love language, you may find yourself feeling the most loved after someone stops to give you a hug. A high five, pat on the pack or fist bump goes far to brighten your day.
  4. Acts of Service: If you find yourself saying “actions speak louder than words” often, this may be your love language. You feel most loved when someone does something for you without asking or without strings attached.
  5. Words of Affirmation: If this is your love language, words really fill your tank. This doesn’t always have to be long winded and or eloquent. Simple words like “I’m proud of you” stop you in your tracks and change everything for you.

You may find yourself relating to several of the love languages and that is totally normal. However, according to Gary Chapman, each of us has a primary love language which speaks more deeply to us than any of the others. If you aren’t sure what your primary love language is, I highly encourage you to do a google search and take a quick test.

Of all the love languages, I think “words of affirmation” is the lowest on my list. It’s funny, because I love writing in just about every form, but I don’t find myself wishing for words from others. I mean, I love receiving cards, but it’s usually not because of the words, it’s because the person thought of me enough to give  me a gift!

Over the years Dan has expressed his love for me in a number of ways. As I mentioned before, he has given me the best gifts, however he has never once given me a card. Now before you start deducting “husband points” from Dan’s “husband of the year” scorecard, you have to remember what I previously said. My love language is gifts, it is for sure not words of affirmation. The fact that Dan has never given me a card has never phased me. I have never felt like a gift wasn’t enough because there wasn’t a card.

That’s not to say Dan has never used his words to bless me. Over the course of our marriage, Dan has said ridiculously romantic things to me. He also has sent me e-mails out of the blue that have completely made my day or texts that have made me swoon. Many of those e-mails have been saved in my personal e-mail account for years and years. I don’t read them often, but when I do I immediately go weak in the knees and my day is always brighter. (Maybe words impact me more than I give them credit for after all!) I don’t have boxes of lengthy love letters, but I have straight to the point e-mails full of encouragement.

Well, I used to have e-mails. As you have probably gathered from the title of this post, I recently deleted every one of those e-mails on accident. I may be organized in many areas of my life, but my e-mail inbox is NOT one of them. I have had the same personal e-mail since early in our marriage. Over the course of the last 12 years, I have  haphazardly created folders with really no rhyme or reason to how I saved things.

A few days ago, I decided enough is enough and decided to clean things up. As I started clicking on folders, I realized there was also a bunch of folders I had never created and quite frankly didn’t know existed. For the past several years, I have been receiving e-mails (mostly from stores, restaurants, and other places that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things) and my e-mail provider has been kindly sorting them into folders for me. As I started to dig through the folders, I realized I had over 20,000 unread e-mails.

Now, if that makes you a bit sweaty, I totally get it. It made me a bit sweaty too. I have actually turned off that little red bubble that pops up when I have an unread e-mail because I hate how it mocks me. My main inbox was full of about 200 read e-mails (goodness, this is getting embarrassing) and I may not have any organization method, but I need my e-mails to be read.  Unread e-mails haunt me late at night, they are things that my nightmares are made of. Well, that and snakes.

Anyways, I sat down, determined to never let it get this bad again, and started to delete 50 e-mails at a time one folder at a time. About an hour into the process, I realized that there is a folder called “All Mail” that allows you to see every e-mail in every folder. This felt like a miracle. For the next couple hours, I selected all 50 e-mails on the page and hit delete.

I don’t know if the show that was playing on TV distracting me, or if I blacked out, but I looked down and suddenly realized I had deleted EVERY e-mail in my inbox. If the thought of 20,000 e-mails made me sweaty, I was officially dripping sweat at this point. Everything was gone. I started to panic, and then clicked on my trash folder. It was full of 25,000+ e-mails. The panic threatened to overtake me.

I quickly started to search for e-mails from Dan and while there are 100’s of e-mails, none of the special ones that I held on to for so many years seemed to be there.  I had just deleted every word that Dan had ever sent me. What makes this whole process more complicated – I actually don’t know what e-mail Dan used when he sent the e-mails. It could have been his personal e-mail (he has two) or professional e-mail (two of these as well, ugh!!). He also may have mailed them to my professional e-mail which I then forwarded to my personal e-mail for “safe keeping”.

The gravity of what just happened started to sink in. I was going to have to go through all 25,000+ e-mails AGAIN looking for very specific e-mails. Honestly, I don’t even remember how many e-mails I saved? Was it 10…15…57…112? Had I just saved the romantic ones or were there funny ones too? I slammed the laptop shut, pushed it away and pouted. Everything was ruined, I had nothing to prove our love. Not one thing.

Dan had no idea I had been saving e-mails all these years, however like the true knight and shining armor he is, he immediately tried to help me. He tried to throw out ideas or ways to search for the e-mails. He even offered to contact the e-mail provider to attempt to pull back the deleted e-mails. Instead of responding in love or even a small amount of appreciation, I stomped to the bedroom, slammed my face wash on the counter, angrily brushed my teeth and then grumpily crawled into bed. Why couldn’t Dan realize the gravity of what I had just done? I just deleted our entire marriage. Our love was tainted forever.

The next morning, I realized how much I had overreacted. While those e-mails were very special, and while it was totally okay to be sad over losing them, our marriage wasn’t ruined. If you spend more than 2 minutes with Dan, you know he is deeply in love with me. I mean, at this point you may question why Dan loves me after my dramatic pout fest, but the why isn’t what we are talking about here. If you spend about a minute with us together, you know we have built a strong foundation and this marriage is far from tainted or ruined.

Dan knows my love language because he has pursued me and worked to get to know my heart. I know He loves me, not because of e-mails hidden away, but because he shows me every single day. He not only tells me each day that he loves me, but he actively pursues me each day. Our intimacy didn’t grow over night, in fact it all started with friendship.

In 2004, a song was released called “I am a Friend of God”, and if I am being honest I thought the song was silly. At the time, I thought it was ridiculous to think the God of all creation would want to call me friend. How silly that I would think I could talk to God like a friend. (If you know the song at all, you know that the first verse is basically this exact thought!) As I have grown, I have learned that we can absolutely call God friend. In fact, in Isaiah 41:8 God refers to Abraham as His friend! Why? God called Abraham friend because Abraham chose to trust the history he had with his Father. That history was based on knowledge of God and experiences Abraham had with God. He knew the character of God because they had spent time together. He knew God could be trusted. Since Abraham knew God could be trusted, because they were friends, he had deep faith. Faith that has literally changed generations.

Just as I can’t rely on knowledge about Dan to sustain my marriage, I can’t rely on simple knowledge to sustain my relationship with God.  I have to actively pursue him daily. It’s not about religious duty, it’s because I want to have friendship with Him. I desire to be close to Him. Just as I can’t rely on old e-mails from Dan to sustain my marriage, I can’t rely on a message God gave me yesterday to sustain me today. I can’t rely on what others tell me about God’s love for me, I have to experience the love of the Father for myself.

So what does intimacy with the Father look like? Intimacy only comes after friendship is built with God. Friendship can only be built by spending time with God daily. I spend time with God everyday by reading the bible, reading books about Him and listening to Christian music and podcasts. However, remember intimacy isn’t just about knowledge. I also think it is important to be still and listen. I have a tendency to do all the talking, but it’s important for me to remember that friendship sometimes requires me to simply listen or to simply be okay in the quiet.

Several weeks ago, I asked the girls in my local Moms in the Making group where they would take their husband if they could surprise them with a trip. Each of us in the group listed a place wildly different from the other. Seriously, if you think I am kidding, we described vacations that included everything from a couples trip to New York Fashion week to a family vacation complete with a NASCAR garage tour. The places we described couldn’t have been more different. Why? Because our husbands are different. Each of us have spent time with our husbands. We know what they like and dislike. We know their hearts and what makes them happy.

There are parts of my marriage with Dan that feel too personal to put into words. I can’t describe every single aspect of our marriage, because it’s so special to just the two of us. It’s specific to us and meant to be between just us. Dan has seen the deepest parts of my heart. He has laughed with me in the midst of my crazy. He has held me and cried with me through the darkest and saddest times. In some ways, I feel like this describes my relationship with the Father.

The Father has comforted me, guided me and loved me. He has also taught me and rebuked me. I have been on adventures with the Father that are hard to put into words. Just like my relationship with Dan is so personal, my relationship with the Father is personal. It won’t look like yours. What makes my heart sing is different than yours. That’s what is so incredibly amazing about the Father. He created us all so differently, and yet He can have personal relationships with each of us that are exactly what we need. He knows how to speak our love languages before we ever take a quiz!

It’s important to understand that your intimacy with the Father may look differently than mine, but one thing is true for all of us, we have to actively pursue our relationship with Him daily. James 4:8 promises that when we pursue God, He moves in closer. 

Intimacy with the Father isn’t just about feeling known and loved. It’s not just a warm hug we get to carry for fun. Intimacy with the Father also protects us from lies. We can easily see “fake news” when we are intimately involved with the creator of truth. We can’t be lured away by things that look sort of true. We can recognize truth, because we walk in friendship with the author of truth.

Today I want to remind you that relationship with the Father isn’t a list of daily requirements and religious duties. The Father isn’t asking you to change yourself before you pursue friendship with Him. He asks you to come just as you are. He wants you to call Him friend. He wants to speak to you through your love language. The Father is longing for you to spend time with Him daily. He wants to have a life-long conversation with you that is bigger and more vibrant than old love letters and deleted e-mails. The best part, just as my relationship with Dan continues to grow… so can our relationship with the Father. Friends, there is so much more for all of us!

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