THE DIRTY LETTER

I ran across “the” letter this week while looking for something else. It’s a letter I’ll never forget. When I opened it for the first time I was shocked. I’d never received a letter like this one. I’d seen letters from people complaining before, but never this angry and never actually signed by the sender.

It spewed with venom and anger with each line that was written. It was cold, cruel and extremely critical. It accused me of things I’d never done. She told me that I had been unkind to her mother, I hadn’t announced her father’s death at church and that I hadn’t shown any sympathy towards her mother when her father had died. All those things were very untrue.

I sat there in my office and racked my brain trying to think if the church or myself had done anything that this lady was saying we had done. I honestly couldn’t remember if her father’s death had been announced. I’m sure it had, but it had been months ago and there was really no way to remember for sure. I thought to myself, we do overlook things, maybe we had missed it. I began to look through old bulletins to see if we’d put it in the bulletin and sure enough there it was. I remember taking the church van to her father’s funeral because it was an hour or so away, and I remember that I actually had two or three others who went with me that day.

As I sat there thinking about her accusations and the anger in which she wrote them, it began to make me angry. My first thought was, “This woman only lives an hour from me, I ought to go up there and show her she’s wrong. That would teach her.” Then I thought, “No, send her a letter back like the one she sent me. I’ll give her a piece of my mind (not that I have a lot left to give).” Other thoughts went through my head as well, but none of them were very nice thoughts.

Not sure how to handle it, I called a man I highly respect that has done ministry for 50 years. I knew he’d be full of wisdom and answers. When I explained to him what had happened he told me I had three good options …

  1. Throw it in the trash and forget it. It’s not even worth responding back.
  2. Write her back explaining exactly all the details of why you’re not guilty.
  3. Write her back and shower her with blessings.

When he finished the third thought I said, “What? Shower her with blessings.” He told me, “Sure, it really doesn’t matter what you say, she’s too mad to believe you or care. So just be nice.” I remember thinking, “What a concept!” Where had I heard that before, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” I remember thinking, “Wow, sometimes it’s tough practicing what you preach.”

I sat down and wrote her a letter back. I started by apologizing for anything I might have done to her or her mother. I thanked her for her letter and the time she took to write it. I made no real effort to explain my side of the story, instead I only showered her with blessings and kindness. I told her I was always here if she ever wanted to talk about it. I signed it and stuck it in the mail the next day.

Months past and I forgot about the letter. One day as I was going I through the church mail there was another letter from her. I was scared to open it, but I did. This time it was written very kind. It was very apologetic. She said she had just recently talked to her mom and realized that she didn’t have all her facts straight. That the accusations she’d accused me of were not true and she was very sorry.

I did a little victory dance in my office that day. Not a “I was right and you were wrong dance,” but a celebration that I had had the chance to practice what I preach. I learned a valuable lesson that day from how I handled the letter, and I’ll always be thankful for a wise old minister’s advice.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:42-48

So, who can you shower blessings on today?

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
15 Comments Post a Comment
  1. preacherman says:

    My God bless you with the love and grace our Lord Jesus Christ. May it flow over you abundantly.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Trey,
    I read this today and it went along with a conversation I had with my First Sergeant. And I would like to share some of that with you.
    The blessings that I would shower upon a person would have to be my last supervisor and my current chain of command. The military has a very set way of doing things and should you ever stray from this way, you will be punished by paperwork or more serious action.
    One thing that is supposed to be done is feedback on a troop every 6 months to let them know how they are working their job. And every year, we get an overall “rating” of our performance that follows us in our permanent record.
    My last supervisor did not give me the feedback at the 6 month point and then gave me a VERY harsh one year rating. It really broke my spirit and made me angry. I had worked very hard over the last year to do my job well, and I thought he was unfair and didn’t do the things he should have in order to make me better.
    The short version of this is the advice my First Sergeant gave me was to take my anger and mold it into a positive. I will be a new supervisor next summer and will be responsible for airmen and their careers. And instead of keeping the negative attitude, I should remember how I felt and use it to NOT treat my future airmen that way. It will be a great tool for me to use in the future of what NOT to be as an NCO.
    Thank you for posting this and showing that God has MANY hidden ways of teaching us to be the people we need to be. And then showing us the fruits of our labors.

    Mouth of the South

  3. Tim Archer says:

    Trey,

    How fortunate you were to find a wise counsellor and how wise you were to follow his advice.

    When people spew things that are outrageously unfair and patently untrue, that’s the time to try and look behind the words to see the emotion that lies there. When reason has obviously gone out the window, it’s usually because emotion has pushed it out.

    Grace and peace to you, my friend,
    Tim

    P.S.–I was behind a pickup yesterday with a Childress’ dealers decal on it (Gateway?), and I couldn’t help but think of you. God bless.

  4. Zach Detwiler says:

    Trey – wow.. what a testimony. I know what its like being on the other end..not having your facts straight and not realizing it.. Man I think we all fall in this category. .. Not really realizing we do.. Oh the times I have stuck my foot in my mouth…. I think I truly understand the word wisdom now..it’s not given .. it’s earned!

  5. TREY MORGAN says:

    Caleta – I’m proud of who you are and what you’ve become. I’m honored that you shared your opinion today. Thanks.

    Tim – Man, I wish we could get together and do lunch sometime.

    Zach – I’ll admit that I’ve been on the other end and not had my facts right before. Thankfully, I’m a little slower and making rash judgements and decisions now.

  6. preacherman says:

    As much as you have given Trey and His Family….

  7. TREY MORGAN says:

    Thank you preacherman… blessings to you too.

  8. Monalea says:

    This is one of the things I struggle with. Sometimes I breeze right through and love my enemy; the next time I struggle. Funny, it took me a long to realize that my enemy that I need to love and treat kind was some of my own family members.

    Monalea

  9. DJG says:

    Sometimes I try to convince myself that I don’t have any enemies. But then I realize there are those who wish me harm and that I have trouble liking as well. I have tried this week to measure my words and be more gracious (especially when writing it down!) but usually my first reaction is the same as yours was. I hope I will always listen to good advice like you did.

  10. jerry says:

    Trey
    thank you for the post. I too have received “those” letters, however I have taken choice #1 after I pray over the letter. You are so right about practicing what you preach. Thanks for the reminder – I just want to do things the way my Jesus would, and that is not always the easy way.

    keep praying, seeking and serving

  11. Greg says:

    I’ve never regretted taking the high road though at the time, I’ve often longed for the low road! Great testimony. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Trey,

    You said once that when you are judged that you hoped you would be guilty of being to compassionate and forgiving. Thanks for showing us how to implement God’s grace.

    Mythical

  13. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for sharing this story with me. In our family’s work, both my husband and I get those kind of letters and phone calls quite often. We just make sure that we do what is right and then try to kill them with kindness. But that is hard…

  14. Roadtripray says:

    Trey,

    I am truly blessed by your writings. I am presently a lay leader and a candidate for ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church. I had an encounter this week that wasn’t quite as unpleasant as the letter you received, but one that sent me into orbit, nonetheless.

    Fortunately I have a gracious wife who allowed me to vent when I came home from the meeting. I was able to complain and get it “off my chest” to release the pressure before making a rash response.

    Granted, it would have been better if I was mature enough to handle the situation with no need to vent, but I was glad to have a chance to go through all the “You know what I should do? I should ….” scenarios until I calmed down enough to go to God and realize that I shouldn’t do ANY of the things I initially thought of. I guess your sage older pastor/mentor provided the same opportunity to unload a bit and cool down. Yet another way God uses others as instruments.

    Peace.

  15. TREY MORGAN says:

    Steph – You guys are in a highly public job. Thank you for what you do. I know criticism isn’t easy, but remember you do a thousand times more good than anyone every know.

    Roadtripray – Hang in the buddy.

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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