An email? I typed an email yesterday to end a relationship? A part of me feels a tinge of cowardice in such. Another part of me knows it was the best way for me to at least set the stage for face-to-face conversation. And yet another part of me understands and aches over the ways in which I’ve learned to express my heart. Through the years, I’ve apologized for this. I’ve made excuses. And yet, writing has been the predominant way in which I’ve communicated…not just because it’s how I’ve known to best express myself, but because it’s the way in which others have, as well. No judgment or anger. Just my reality:

Letters from my mom while in college – only 20 minutes away – telling me of her fear for me and articulating a Scriptural perspective on my relationship with the first man I’d ever loved…and may have ever been loved by.

The notes on the piece of paper I watched my dad pull out of his shirt pocket when he began a 3-point “sermon” on all the reasons why I should break up with this guy. (The notes were so convincing that I immediately drove back to college and broke up with him.)

Notes written and pictures drawn by my 11-year-old sister trying to comfort me when I stayed in my room and wept of a broken heart.

The letters I wrote my parents explaining my need for their acceptance and their trust in my judgment when the amazing man and I got back together not weeks later.

And years earlier:

Notes I wrote as early as five or six, trying to express my sadness or happiness. And the notes I wrote at the same age, trying to cheer up my parents – offering to help, telling of my love, wanting them to be happy.

The note I wrote my parents asking for a new bike.

A letter I wrote begging to get my ears pierced. The letter my mom wrote in response telling me “no.

The words written on cards for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Birthdays, an Anniversary expressing gratitude and love unspoken at any other time.

And many, many pages saying I was sorry for not cleaning my room, for making my dad angry, for not being thoughtful enough, for upsetting my mom.

When I turned 30, my mom gave me a beautiful, bound scrapbook filled with notes she’d saved, cards I’d written, letters I’d sent. I kept it in a drawer for a long time. I got married. I packed up houses and moved – 5 times in five years with the Army and 2 more times after his retirement – and still never looked at those words. Two-and-a-half years ago I divorced. I cleaned out the attic. Still, I didn’t return to its pages…until three days ago. I climbed up the drop-down staircase to find it. I needed to remember. I sat at the top of the stairs and wept. I remembered the young girl and the young woman whose heart cried out to be heard – who was saying everything she possibly could – always in written form.

So much unspoken. But today I realize, never silent. I have been speaking – sometimes screaming – through my actions, my body, my tears, my choices, and yes, still, through my written words. No apologies for such. My words matter. My voice matters – regardless of the medium or form.

Today, writing is no less significant, no less powerful as a means through which my voice takes flight, moving from my heart and soul into my world. And these days, I also speak – out loud, boldly, unapologetically, truthfully. No, hardly silent. And always so much more to say…

I do have some regret that yesterday’s email wasn’t accompanied (or better yet, exclusively communicated) through my voice. Still, my words are no less true, no less meaningful, no less heart-felt – even if painful.

This is important for me to acknowledge and articulate. My writing is not a “lesser” expression of who I am, what I think, all that I feel. I have spoken. I do not need to apologize.

Today is the start of my 49th year. Undoubtedly, I will speak much – out loud and in written form – in the days, weeks, and months ahead. And I know something now I did not so many years ago: my words matter – no matter their form.

Hardly silent.