To Read When You’re Alone

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
February 21, 1991

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
  1. Thank you for sharing this.. It actually brought tears to my eyes because I stand amazed at how many kids are still the same at that age. I am thankful for parents who while they may not have known how to love me during that difficult stage never gave up on me. Thanks again for sharing.


  2. A timely reminder for me to pursue my children in love no matter what circumstances we face. Thank you!


  3. Great story of a mothers love for her child…and God’s love for His redeemed children…

    Blessings in Christ, bruce


  4. What a lovely idea and a loving heart behind it. I’m so glad that I read this while I still have three teens living in my home.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀


  5. Reblogged this on imconfident and commented:
    This is a wonderful story about how a mother showed unconditional love to her teenage son. Our children need to know that we love them, are proud of them and that we are there for them no matter what. The teen years are especially difficult and we need to keep the lines of communication open. This is a wonderful way to connect when verbal communication has broken down.


  6. Jennifer said:

    Perfect timing for me to read this. I needed it. Thank you!


  7. What a loving story! It reminds me of another real life “letter” story in which the father wrote to his son: “If I had to do anything different, it would be to tell you I love you every day of your life.” Kids need to hear it and see it written down.Your mother was brilliant.


  8. cshowers said:

    Mike, thank you for sharing this beautiful memory with us. I grew up in a home where love had to be earned, and unfortunately, all to often, I was unable to earn it. However, because of that, I was able to truly appreciate the love my heavenly Father has for me all the more. And because I grew up feeling so unloved, God taught me how to love my children, no matter how good or how poorly they behaved.

    Instead of the “To Read When You’re Alone” letters, I used to take my son or daughter for a ride, usually in the evening, where they felt free to talk to me. On those long rides, they would talk and I would listen quietly to them, while silently praying that the Lord would give me the wisdom to know when and what to say to them, and that He would also give me the wisdom to know when to shut up. And you know what? He never failed to answer those prayers, and at the beginning of the ride, while he/she was trying to work up the courage to begin sharing their problems with me, I always told them how much I loved them, and when we were done talking, no matter what was shared, before I turned the car off, I always reiterated how much I love them. To this day, whenever my daughter comes home for a visit, if she needs to talk to me, she asks me to go for a ride with her. Anyway, your beautiful memory stirred up some of my own beautiful memories. Thanks again for sharing.

    Bless you,


  9. My parents loved me the same way when I was entrapped in a cult while away at college (not all of the time I was away). They kept sending care packages, calling me, sending me letters.


  10. I am more than a little behind on blog reading and am so glad I took time to do some catching up today. Here is a story, true too, of a very wise Mom. I remember the day I blocked my son’s doorway to his room and declared, “Son, there is nothing you can do to ever destroy the love I have for you.” After that I had to repeat the sentence now and then, but we both made it! Today he is a father of a little girl that undoubtedly will try his patience when she hits teen years. I hope he remembers that true message of understanding and love that has a measure of control.


  11. wow, that is the kind of impact I pray God uses me to make. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story.


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