The strangest love letters you ever read

by Lesley on August 14, 2014 · 3 comments

in marriage

Laughing on beach

A few weeks ago Jonathan’s parents handed over the last of his childhood things which had been hiding in their garage since we married. Several years ago my parents made a similar delivery and I remember receiving the boxes with about 30% hope (I WONDER WHAT I MIGHT FIND?!?) and 70% terror (When am I going to find time to sort through all of this, and where am I going to store this junk in my tiny house?!)

At a quick glance, his boxes were similar to mine. They were filled with things you’d expect from childhood: school book reports and college blue books, way too many photo negatives concert ticket stubs, and baseball cards.

And then I noticed love letters. Lots and lots and lots of love letters penned from China and England, Prague and Paris. From me to him. A time capsule of our dating days we didn’t know existed.

There was a letter in a bottle, and letters on various hotel stationary, and postcards and three ring binder paper scraps and ones with drawings and hearts and lipstick prints. He’d saved them all, just like I saved his.

Later that night we put the kids to sleep and then sat down next to our backyard fire pit. A “date night in,” we called it. I pulled over the box of his old stuff and we each rifled through the papers and cards and random things he’d thought worthy of saving.

I spent awhile reading through my words to him, many of which were written during the long months of travel apart, and I was immediately struck by the intentionality and encouragement I’d poured into those letters. They were handwritten and lengthy, filled with all the reasons I cared about him. You are kind. You are persistent. You are a hard worker. You love Jesus. You put me before yourself. You are thoughtful. You are funny. 

But nowhere in all those love letters did I write, I love you. 

(Wait? Huh?)

During this stage in our dating life, despite having been together for almost two years, we hadn’t said the butterfly inducing phrase most people throw out a few months into their dating relationship.  I’d said the L word to previous boyfriends, and I’d regretted saying so. Love, to me, meant a commitment. Love doesn’t come and go. Love stays around when things get hard and sicknesses come and jobs are lost. I couldn’t tell another man that I loved him until I knew he was the one.

I think, at the time, some of our friends maybe thought we were strange for not saying I love you. And it is a little bit crazy and different. But you know, my friend Tammy said something recently that really resonated with me. She said, essentially, to really feel secure in a relationship you have to feel both loved and known.

When I re-read those letters (and the letters he wrote back to me) I realized we may not have been saying “I love you” but we were building a beautiful foundation for our marriage that we continue to benefit from all these years later.

Those letters said more than I love you. They said I know your heart. I know what will make you laugh. I know what hard things you’re going through. I know you are lonely right now. I know your good traits and I will remind you of them even when you doubt yourself. 

Today we’ve been married nine years, and it’s been the best nine years of my life. These days we say I LOVE YOU all the time, every day. We say I KNOW YOU all the time, too.

You are tired. Please sleep in.

You are stressed out. Let me  do the laundry.

You need time with friends. Go play basketball.

You look worried right now. Can I pray for you?

You always work so hard for our family. Thank you.

So often in our relationships we start going through the motions. Re-reading our old letters reminded me that to feel love, and to show love, we have to be intentional in knowing another person, and speaking encouragement and truth into their hearts.

Jonathan, on our anniversary today, I want to thank you for knowing me and reminding me that I am worthy of love.

And for all the times I didn’t say so… I love you. 

{photo taken at our rehearsal dinner, Irvine Cove, 2005}

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2 comments
bondsandra
bondsandra

This is beautiful. I love looking back on the days when I met my Jonathan and how we've grown into a team over the years! Happy anniversary to you two!

Bronwyn Lea
Bronwyn Lea

Congratulations on your anniversary, sweet friend. What a treasure trove you found on those letters - precious memories of a love which had more than fluff and declarations, but even at an early stage was already feeling out the practical ways to encourage and support one another. Love it!

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