When was the last time you opened a letter? Not a bill, not a donation request or a political ad, but a personal letter, handwritten to you? In our digital world many of us have lost the art and the gift of a note, written with intention and thoughtfulness. Imagine what generations before us would think if we told them that one day, love letters would be replaced by text messages, phone calls, social media updates, or simply abandoned altogether. I think they would tell us we’re missing something important for the sake of convenience. Science tells us that too.
Recent neuroscience research points to feelings of happiness and gratitude due to the rise in dopamine and the creation of hand-brain circuit connections through letter writing. Both the sender and the receiver enjoy the benefits of self-disclosure that a written note produces, leading to intimacy and closeness, according to Dr. Sara Algoe, Director of EASIR Laboratory at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. According to Algoe, the act of letter writing, “draws the other person in” and helps build a relationship over time. The art of taking time to consider the other person and express your feelings of love toward them is both valuable and possible in any relationship. While Valentine’s Day is often synonymous with gift giving and elaborate gestures of expression, there is something very sweet and thoughtful about a simple act of love that requires no financial transaction but instead a priceless demonstration.
While many famous love letters have been captured and reproduced throughout generations, there is one love letter that transcends them all. The Bible is God’s love letter to us. Within its pages, God communicates His unconditional love for His creation through a written retelling of the great lengths to which He goes to demonstrate His love. We have a record of His character, His thoughts, His actions, and His heart for us. When we feel sad, confused, or disappointed we only need go back to His written Word to be reminded of just how much God loves us (John 3:16), cares for us (1 Peter 5:7), and provides for us (Philippians 4:19). The ultimate expression of His love is seen in Jesus’ sacrificial death on our behalf (Romans 5:8). Holding the Bible and reading its truths is like opening a love letter from God’s heart to yours.
Perhaps you could gift your spouse with a love letter this Valentine’s Day. You might begin by reflecting on how you met, recounting memories you have shared, and detailing how being in relationship with them has enhanced your life. True, mature love focuses on giving more than receiving, on sacrificing more than taking, and contributing more than consuming. Invest in your relationship by leaving a lasting record of how you loved and appreciated the person God gave you in marriage. Maybe one day your grandkids will read those letters and be reminded of the choices you made in creating a legacy of commitment and love.