Sweet Friendship: Receiving Notes of Gratitude

So, my last post I talked about how I was planning on writing thank you notes to people who have been significant to my life and may not realize it. Mostly, teachers came to mind, and I’ve written several of my letters (but haven’t postmarked them yet.)

The day after I decided to focus on gratitude in the form of handwritten letters, I received this from a very dear friend:

We’ve only gotten close this semester, but there is a kindred spirit within her. She is beautiful, wise, affirming. She is the first friend I seek out when I am fighting past demons, and her words always bring me inner calm and help me wage the storms. I will be writing about her wisdom in a later post. Receiving a letter helped affirm the project I am doing this week: her words were touching, and I will treasure them. Knowing the joy I felt reading her card, I’m excited to send my letters to other people.

She wrote, “I chose this stationary for you because birds represent to me freedom, grace, and beauty, and  believe you have an can achieve these things. You have beauty, grace, and strength, and through Christ and love you can achieve freedom.” 

Since I just moved from my dorm to the Vista House, I was packing up several cards and letters I’ve received this year. Here are some of my favorites that will hopefully encourage you to write those you love and those who have impacted you, and brighten their days!

This one is from Archana, the beautiful young woman I sponsor through Compassion International. She’s actually about a week and a half older than I am!

This comes from my mother and is a thank you note for her birthday gift. The inside says: God is able to make all grace abound in you, from II Corinthians 9:8.

  My sister Megan has a gift. I’ve probably received more letters and cards from her than from anyone else–she is so thoughtful and affirming. Included with this card was some wonderful Toms toothpaste with propolis. I used to guest blog for her business, and did a focus on bees.

Here is another one of her postcards. So beautiful!

 This is from the girl I nannied for my last two years of high school. She is so sweet and mature, and this letter MADE MY WEEK! 

What is your favorite letter you’ve received this year? 

Do you have plans to write anyone this week?

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Forgiving the Forgetful

. . . in myself. Really, it isn’t just the forgetful: it’s learning to forgive the imperfections within myself. That, my friends, is something that I thought I had grasped only because I was able to give myself grace in one area of life. When something else happens to remind me of my inherent human-ness, I feel like I’m starting all over again.

This is exam week, hence my lack of regularity in posting. I’ve been stressed the past few days about the exam I had this morning–not because I was unprepared, or because it was going to be particularly challenging. It is my easiest class, and therein lies my problem: I’ve been unwilling to accept anything less than an A in that class because it is easy and unchallenging. There were several homework assignments I forgot to do, which makes my current standing in the class less than my ideal. Had I done them, I would have gotten 100%–but I just completely forgot. It had been a hard few weeks with a death in the family, traveling to the funeral, missing class, working through my emotions, and I simply blanked.

It took me days to stop kicking myself over them, with renewed pressure this week to excel on the final so I don’t get–oh the horror–an A minus. I keep trying to remind myself that this isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of life. That it is a learning experience, a reminder that when I mess up, life will continue.

It is this same, take it or leave it, perfection driven mindset that got me into a state of un-health in the first place.  I refused to yield on myself, convinced that I could make myself do anything if I simply set my mind to it. If I applied myself, I would get what I wanted. I’d never experienced anything contrary to this logic in the past–if I wanted a good grade, I could get it. If I needed to get into a certain program, I’d apply and get in. If I wanted to change a system, I’d simply find the right person to talk to and convince them to my way of thinking. If I thought modeling was something I wanted to do, I’d be damned if I didn’t whittle myself into their restricted standards of measure to succeed by someone else’s definition. Problem is, I didn’t always evaluate if my end goal was actually something good, as it clearly wasn’t in the latter.

Sure, I’ve learned occasionally that there is room for failure in my life–when I didn’t get accepted to the Washington DC Senatorial Page Program, or when I didn’t receive a scholarship I wanted at a certain school. But all of these I could justify as ‘not part of God’s plan,’ or some other factor. When it is my own personal involvement that trips myself up . . . that is what I struggle to accept.

I’m trying to learn to love and accept what my counselor calls the shadows of ourselves. What would happen, she asked, if you were a forgetful person? But I’m not. That isn’t a part of who I am. But, you forgot. Does that make you forgetful? She was purposefully letting me be flustered so that I could see the hypocrisy of accepting forgetfulness and imperfections in other people, but never myself.

Grace. Forgiveness. Self love.

How do you forgive yourself? 

Do you ever struggle with perfectionism?