Write a Letter - Heal Your Soul!
My Story

God-inspired Idea

The Healing Letters Project was a God-inspired idea that came about in 2010 when I was on a Daniel Fast. I was praying intently on the issue of forgiveness and about strengthening my walk with Christ. While praying, God convicted my heart about my relationship with my family and I knew I needed to reconcile with my seven brothers and sisters. Thinking about those relationships, I realized that there were definitely times when I did not display love and compassion nor was it reciprocated toward me.

I knew I needed to reach out to each of them and reconcile for past hurts and offenses and so I decided to write a letter to each sibling to make amends. The letter would not be about pointing the finger, placing blame, or stirring up the past. Instead, it would be about love, forgiveness, reaching out and building relationships. I wrote the letters to say,

“I love you.”
“I’m sorry.”
“I forgive you.”
“Will you forgive me?”

My siblings were pleasantly surprised to receive the letters and the responses I received from most of them was overwhelming joy. The first person I heard from was my brother, Malcolm, who had been in successful recovery for four years. If you’ve ever had a loved one who has any type of addiction, you know how much it strains family relationships. I remember an incident, long ago, when Malcolm came to our mother’s house to visit. Malcolm had either been drinking or doing drugs and was causing a big disturbance. My mother asked him to leave, and when he refused, he and I got into an argument.

I remember the cold and callous words I said to him as we argued, “Who do you think you are? You’re nobody.” When I said those words, I honestly did not mean that he was less of a person than I because he was an addict and I was not. He felt he had a right to come to our mother’s house in any state of mind and I disagreed and felt he had no such right and nothing he said mattered (hence, “You’re nobody”). Had I been a woman of faith at the time I would have had sense enough not to say those hurtful words to anyone, regardless of what I actually meant. Up until I wrote my letters of reconciliation, I never apologized to Malcolm for those harsh words or any of the other incidents that occurred between us.

When Malcolm received my letter of reconciliation, he called me immediately. He was the first person I heard from. His exact words were, “When I got the letter, at first I thought it was money, but it turned out to be something better.” We both laughed hysterically! He said he never held a grudge over anything that happened between us. He also said he came to realize that in all the years he was an addict, he made excuses for his behavior and excuses for why he wouldn’t change. He also apologized for those years and said he regrets that he was not a better big brother. I apologized as well and said I wish I had been a more supportive and loving sister.

God’s grace and mercy in reconciliation is just amazing. Malcolm and I never called each other before I wrote him that letter. We would only see each other occasionally when we both visited our mother, but now we speak every week, sometimes several times a week. We are now a part of each other’s lives, the way siblings are supposed to be.

Of my seven brothers and sisters, the only person I did not hear from regarding my letter was my older sister, Rebecca. She never called to say she received the letter and never said how she felt about the letter. It takes some of us more time than others and I continue to pray for her.

My lesson in forgiveness did not start with the writing of those letters. While growing up I was blessed to have the opportunity to watch my mother master the art of forgiving. One of the most compelling and moving stories of forgiveness in her life involved an incident that happened long ago, before I was even born.

In 1968 my mother made the difficult decision to leave several family members behind and migrate from her native Honduras (a third world country in Central America) to the U.S. for a job opportunity. She became a domestic live-in maid in the U.S. for a family of seven. Although she made very little money, she did not forget her family members back home and always sent them financial support monthly. As most people are aware, there is widespread poverty in third world countries; work and food are hard to come by.

While in the U.S. my mother met my father (also a native Honduran) and they got married. When my mother was nine months pregnant with me, my father made a trip back home to Honduras to visit his family. While visiting he got involved in a relationship with my 17-year old cousin (my mother’s niece) and she became pregnant as a result. Soon after my father returned back to the U.S. everyone heard about what happened. Family members were furious about the situation and extremely upset with my cousin. How could my cousin betray the very aunt (my mother) who was providing her financial support? Family members encouraged my mother to stop all financial support immediately.

My mother saw things differently. My cousin was young and certainly impressionable. In addition, my mother knew the hardships and realities of living in an impoverished country. It is a blessing and a miracle for anyone in that situation to have a family member in the U.S. who could help them financially. Above all, my mother never lived her life holding grudges or being angry or resentful. She knew one only stirs up hatred in the heart if you don’t forgive. She decided to forgive and did so immediately. My mother continued sending financial support for my cousin and she sent extra money to pay for a midwife when my cousin delivered the baby.

Years later, in 1988, my mother brought my cousin over from Honduras so she could live in the U.S. permanently. My cousin later became a citizen and then brought her own mother and five children to the U.S., including the child she had by my father. My cousin’s children have become citizens and started families of their own. Four generations of family members escaped poverty because my mother took one selfless act of obedience to God and forgave my cousin for an unthinkable act. If I’m ever in a situation where I feel I want to hold on to anger or a grudge and I find it hard to forgive, I think about my mother and I say to myself, “If she can forgive my cousin, I can forgive anyone.”

My mother forgave my father as well. If you’re wondering how I felt about the situation, my position has always been that it is an incident that happened between my mother, father, and cousin before I was born, and it was rectified long ago. So, there was nothing more for me to add to the situation or take away.

But, back to my present day story and the letters of reconciliation I wrote to my siblings. One of the most important lessons I learned from this process is that you can never go wrong doing the right thing. I would feel the same way even if none of my siblings responded to my letters, or even if they all responded harshly. Forgiving will always enrich your life; you don’t have the same guarantee if you choose not to forgive.

I have one final note before I end this story. The credit, praise, and glory for forgiving, healing, and mending relationships always goes to God. It is only through His grace and mercy that we are able to heal.
N.Cann