So I’m not sure how it started, exactly, but the other day a friend of mine and I decided that we were going to have a contest to see who could come up with the holiest email closing.
This would probably be a good time to provide some background information. I do hope you’ll bear with me while I explain.
When I was in high school my parents went to a really awesome weekend retreat, and they came home with all sorts of encouraging notes from people who had also been to the retreat, and many of those notes were closed with the following words:
Encouraging Christian’s Name
And I’ll go ahead and admit it: I was a wee big fascinated with the “In Him” sign-off. After practicing with it awhile in notes both real and imagined, I decided that I really liked working the Christian closing into my 16 year-old correspondence. For instance:
I don’t know what in the world he thinks that he’s thinking, but he’s DEFINITELY not thinking the same thing that I’m thinking. By the way, aren’t my new Reebok high tops the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? I think they are SO MAJOR.”
Or actually it would have said “Sofa” instead of “Soph” because all my high school friends called me “Sofa,” but let’s just pretend you have no knowledge of that bit-o-information, okay?
Right after David and I got married I started teaching at a Christian school, and I noticed almost immediately that “In Him” was no longer in vogue. Oh, I mean, it was FINE, and it would certainly do in a pinch, but the closings were a bit more elaborate. All I could figure was that during the first half of my 20s, when I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to Things Christian, the body of Christ got together and decided to up the holy ante in their email and letter closings. So instead of just being “In Him,” people were “In His grip.” They made it clear that their existence was “By His grace,” that their words were “In His service.”
And sometimes, if the subject matter was really intense, the closing jumped up a notch to “Because of Him,” but you pretty much had to have finished seminary in order to use that one. I’m sure there were some exceptions, of course.
Anyway, it took me awhile, but eventually I managed to catch up. And by 1999, after two years of intensive study in order to reacquaint myself with the Christian closing, I was completely up-to-speed on the lingo. In fact, I may have even thrown down the “Because of His grace” gauntlet in a heartfelt letter. And while odds are that nobody on earth noticed my gauntlet throwing, I’m pretty sure that when Jesus saw me type out “Because of His grace,” he released some doves up in the heavenlies. Or maybe it was just some pigeons. But still. There’s not a doubt in my mind that He was deeply, profoundly moved.
Over the last few years I’ve done a bit of scientific research (and I think we all know that when I say “scientific research,” what I mean is “I HAVE SKIMMED AND EVEN READ SEVERAL EMAILS”), and I’ve noticed an increased use of the participle in people’s closings. I’m fairly certain this increase can be attributed at least in part to the fact that we’re doers of the Word, people. Not just hearers. Oh no. We’re doers. Please consider the following:
Running with perseverance,
Or even better:
Seeking His face,
The presence of the participle-driven closing (not to be be confused with the purpose-driven life) creates action (again: doers – not just hearers – doers). And let me tell you something else: you need to be on your spiritual toes when you run across a closing that starts with a participle. I mean, you’d better know that if someone closes his or her email with “Standing firm,” they’re fully anticipating that you can make the leap to the entire book of 1 Peter. Might want to keep your concordance handy, my friends.
For the last several years I haven’t actively practiced the Christian closing, mainly because I email so much that it just isn’t practical to type out an elaborate closing in every single email. And yes, I know that I could set up a signature in my email preferences, but for some reason I feel like if I do that then the next thing you know I’ll be giving myself some made-up title. And then the next thing you know I’ll be writing down “goals” and trying to “achieve some things.”
So basically what I guess I’m saying is that while I know what is widely regarded as professional, grown-up behavior, I have made a conscious choice to do the exact opposite.
Anyway, one day a couple of weeks ago my friend J and I had a PERFECTLY REVERENT discussion about some of our favorite church-related moments, and somehow the subject of email closings came up. It didn’t take long for us to decide that we needed to have a contest to see who could come up with the best, most active (DOERS. NOT HEARERS.) closing. Also, we wanted to determine once and for all which one of us is holier.
And the prize? A $25 gift card to the LifeWay store. OF COURSE.
Here is my first effort. It’s a bit rough, but I trust you’ll see the heart behind it:
Seeking Him wholeheartedly,
I thought it was good, but J came back with all pistons firing:
This morning around 3:37 I was in my first hour of my quiet time in the cool refreshing morning air and I tried a new prayer position without stretching and pulled a muscle in my back.
Will you pray for me?
Praying without ceasing as to not quench His Spirit,
Not only was I moved by J’s signature – I was inspired. Which is why I replied with the following:
Y’all have to admit that “not quenching” is gold.
But then J came back strong:
Thirsting for more,
Honestly, y’all, I wondered if I was in over my head. So I thought about it, prayed about it and ultimately realized that the problem was that I’d been focusing on participles instead of focusing on – you guessed it – Him. Just raise your hand if you’ve been there, sister.
I think you’ll see the shift in my closing philosophy if you look at my final entry:
He’s changing me,
Needless to say, I was humbled and honored to put the focus back where it belongs.
As for who won the contest – well, I’ll let the internet be the judge. But just know that if you need me, I’ll be ramping up for hour number four in my prayer closet, where I’ll be writing inspirational music that came to me in a vision when I was involved in an intensive seven-year study of the Psalms.
Counting it all joy,