My Favorite Readers
When I was writing weekly for Christian Standard magazine, I would often ask myself, “For whom am I writing this column?” What reader am I envisioning? My readers were a hodgepodge of people ranging from seminary professors to small town Sunday School teachers. All manner of folks seemed to read the column at least every now and again.
There was one group I heard from more than any other. It was older women, mostly from small town and country churches – the kind of people who form the backbone of just about every church. They come to me when I speak at their congregations, tug at my sport coat and pull me down to whisper, “I read your column every time it comes out.” They write on pretty stationery, with impeccable penmanship. They know all manner of things I do not know and cannot even begin to know. I am warmly gratified by their encouragement. I think of them as my “core” readers, the ones who nod with a knowing smile, or kindly dismiss a misguided column with gracious silence.
For some reason my preaching has always been appreciated more by women than men. Based on the volume of my mail, so is my writing. I am comfortable with that. In fact, I am pleased so many women enjoy my column, women who lack agendas and are seldom in a hurry to “change things.” You know who these women are. They look a lot like Jesus.
Come to think of it, that might be why they appreciate my column, because these readers do look like Jesus. Jesus spent a lot of time with wounded travelers and misguided zealots. He probably would have read my column too, just like he would have read yours, pleased to see us giving it our best shot, resigned to the reality that we get it wrong more often than we get it right.
I love when I see a handwritten letter come in the mail, especially if it’s on stationery with cardinals and cherry blossoms. I know I am going to appreciate the sentiments written inside. I answer every letter, on my own stationery, with my own terrible handwriting. It is one of the most enjoyable things I do.
And so it goes.