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Words of intention…

Just a month or so ago I received a lovely hand-written note from an eighty-six year old woman who reads my books. She’s corresponded with me for years, offering encouragement and often a bit of good-natured pressure that I should finish the next book. Her latest letter was jotted on a plain piece of notebook paper, and she offered an apology for that, remarking “It is so hard to find good stationary these days.” And all I could think was, what a shame because there is something so very precious about a hand-scribbled note.
John 13-34 (1)
When we were dating and in the earlier years of marriage, Danny and I used to leave little notes for each other. From him, a short but affectionate scribble left on the breakfast table, or from me, a little reminder of my love on a folded scrap of paper tucked into his jacket pocket.
When’s the last time you wrote a letter or message to someone? I admit that I don’t do it nearly as much as I used to. And I know that I should. But life is hectic. We get busy and forget the little things. Still, isn’t that part of what makes them so special? Isn’t it a huge deal that someone would take the time to find paper, a pen and physically pledge feelings in written form?

Words that Last

Danny’s has been working on the second half of his manuscript about a brigade of Texans during the civil war. A few weeks ago, he began studying an original set of letters by a gentleman from that group of soldiers, and he asked me to help him transcribe one of them. The two pages were written in pencil, making the script particularly hard to read. As I slowly spoke aloud this man’s message home to his wife, I found myself overcome with emotion. His penmanship was so full of flourish, giving the sentences an impression of warmth, despite the practicality of the instructions he offered her. He described briefly the circumstances he and the men were facing, then he carefully offered her advice for the period of his absence: who to call on for help with certain tasks at the farm, how and when to plant. But there was something tangible in that beautiful script that almost gave the words life. And I nearly wept when, at the end, he included a message to their five-year-old son that he expected the boy would have progressed in his studies enough to read to him from the newspaper when he got home. And I knew that this soldier never did return from that terrible conflict.
John 13-34
Still, his letters survived because the man’s family kept them, safeguarded them, cherished every one. The written word—in this case, the hand-written word—had worth far beyond its face.

The Beginning

Have you ever seen images of the Dead Sea Scrolls? The Isaiah Scroll is the largest and perhaps the most preserved. It contains almost all 66 chapters of the Hebrew version of the Book of Isaiah. That’s 50+ columns on 17 pages of parchment, all of it handwritten with exquisite care. It is hard for me to imagine the painstaking care that it must have taken to create. But isn’t the word of God worth it? Over centuries, man has taken His words and transcribed them over and over so that they might be shared with others. In medieval times, monks and nuns worked as scribes to copy the Bible and other religious texts.

Why

In 2013, researchers Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer conducted experiments into the effectiveness of students taking longhand notes versus typing on laptops. They concluded that the “the relative slowness of writing by hand demands heavier mental lifting […]in turn tending to increase conceptual understanding, application, and retention.”
In an article by Dustin Wax on Lifehacks, he explains that the brain is divided into sections that respond to different stimuli such as visual information, auditory information, emotions, verbal communication, and so on. Studies, he said, showed that when students write notes versus not writing notes, the students all retained about 40% of the material provided in lecture, but that the students who took notes retained more of the key information. So the process of writing helps to fix the important stuff in our mind.
John 13-34 (4)
But what if there’s more to it than that? What if there’s a psychological connection between the physical act of writing and the impact of the words on the writer?
So what is it about the written word? It seems that regardless of the science behind it, the hand-written word has some sort of effect not only on the writer but on the recipient of the word.

Action

I’ve continued to struggle recently with forgiveness. Danny and I have had a very tough time over the last year as we became embroiled in litigation with our neighbors. And I know I’ve failed to hand over the anxiety and worry to God completely. I tell the Lord I’m giving him my worries, then I snatch them right back out of his hand. And just when I think I’ve come over the hump with letting go of my rancor and anger, there it is again to weigh me down.
So I contemplated the act of the written word. Of God’s word to us in the Bible. Of handwritten notes between loved ones. Of the psychology of writing by hand. And I decided maybe I was being called to something else.
In an article I wrote earlier this year, I described a blog post about forgiveness. The writer said that saying the words out loud was a step. So I thought maybe for me writing the words would be a step. The idea popped into my head over a month ago that maybe the action of writing those words, “I will forgive,” and then, “I do forgive” would have an impact on me…
John 13-34 (2)
… yet I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I hesitated each and every time. I clasped hold of my anger and hurt and refused to truly contemplate relinquishing it. Yet the Lord continues to remind me.
Today I had a conversation with a friend about a book on money and finances. She said part of the premise was to believe things will work out. And she told me the book suggests writing out your needs and believing they will be met and being grateful. And of course, it struck me that this too was another sign.
I must write down my needs and believe they will be met.
So I’ve done it… I’ve written them out. Almost like a list. Or even more like writing lines when I was in school. Over and over, the specific intent to forgive. To let go of anxiety. To be free of the imprisonment of my angst.
John 13-34 (3)
It hasn’t changed me… yet. I still feel angry. I’m hurt and unable to forgive. But I am also grateful for all that I have. Even through the storm, so many beautiful blessings have fallen into my life. The Lord exalts me with His word, with beautiful friends, with signs of encouragement and with the strength to write… and eventually to forgive.
candace (1)

By oliviahardinwriter

When Olivia Hardin started having movie-like dreams in her teens, she had no choice but to begin putting them to paper. Before long, the writing bug had bitten her, and she knew she wanted to be a published author. Several rejections plus a little bit of life later, she was temporarily “cured” of the urge to write. That is, until she met a group of talented and fabulous writers who gave her the direction and encouragement she needed to get lost in the words again. Olivia has attended three different universities over the years and toyed with majors in Computer Technology, English, History and Geology. Then one day she heard the term “road scholar,”' and she knew that was what she wanted to be. Now she “studies” anything and everything just for the joy of learning. She's also an insatiable crafter who only completes about 1 out of 5 projects, a jogger who hates to run, and she’s sometimes accused of being artistic. A native Texas girl, Olivia lives in the beautiful Lone Star state with her husband, Danny, their corgi Bonnie Sue, and their new rescue Heidi Ho.

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