I was 13 years old. My family had moved to Southern California from North Florida a year before. I hit adolescence with a vengeance. I was angry and rebellious, with little regard for anything my parents had to say, particularly if it had to do with me. Like so many teenagers, I struggled to escape from anything that didn’t agree with my picture of the world. A “brilliant without need of guidance” kid, I rejected any overt offering of love. In fact, I got angry at the mention of the word love.
One night, after a particularly difficult day, I stormed into my room, shut the door and got into bed. As I lay down in the privacy of my bed, my hands slipped under my pillow. There was an envelope. I pulled it out and on the envelope it said, “To read when you’re alone.”
Since I was alone, no one would know whether I read it or not, so I opened it. It said “Mike, I know life is hard right now, I know you are frustrated and I know we don’t do everything right. I also know that I love you completely and nothing you do or say will ever change that. I am here for you if you ever need to talk, and if you don’t, that’s okay. Just know that no matter where you go or what you do in your life, I will always love you and be proud that you are my son. I’m here for you and I love you – that will never change. Love, Mom.
That was the first of several “To read when you’re alone” letters. They were never mentioned until I was an adult.
Today I travel the world helping people. I was in Sarasota, Florida, teaching a seminar when, at the end of the day, a lady came up to me and shared the difficulty she was having with her son. We walked out to the beach, and I told her of my mom’s undying love and about the “To read when you’re alone” letters. Several weeks later, I got a card that said she had written her first letter and left it for her son.
That night as I went to bed, I put my hands under my pillow and remembered the relief I felt every time I got a letter. In the midst of my turbulent teen years, the letters were the calm assurance that I could be loved in spite of me, not because of me. Just before I fell asleep I thanked God that my mom knew what I, an angry teenager, needed. Today when the seas of life get stormy, I know that just under my pillow there is that calm assurance that love – consistent, abiding, unconditional love – changes lives.
TRUE STORY by Mike Staver