Signing off has become far more complex with the introduction of new forms of communication. Letters were fairly easy when they were hand-written, or even typed or word-processed: ‘yours sincerely’ when you knew the name of the recipient; ‘yours faithfully’ when you didn’t.
Now we have much less formal methods of written communication like text messages, email, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter and so on, there’s the dilemma of knowing quite how to sign off from them. Should you stick to ‘yours sincerely’ which, if I am honest, seems a bit formal for a text message on my phone? Or should you say ‘bye’ as if you were speaking in person, but that sometimes seems a bit informal?
It’s not actually as complex as I am making it seem, or rather it is no less complex than with earlier analogue methods of written communication. That’s because we didn’t only restrict ourselves to ‘yours sincerely’ and ‘yours faithfully’. There are many other ways of signing off a letter. There are romantic, intimate ways of signing off a letter to a loved one: I will start you off with ‘lots of love…’ and let you fill in your own thoughts there. There are other alternatives: ‘Respectfully yours’; ‘Cordially’; ‘Best wishes’; or even ‘Wish you were here’ (for postcards). One of my favourites, which I have sometimes adopted is ‘Yours heartily’. This was how CH Spurgeon used to sign off some of his correspondence and I love the affectionate, whole-hearted way in which it conveys good will.
What we tended to do was sign off our correspondence in a way that matched the relationship we had with the correspondent. We almost instinctively knew how to do it. We would rarely sign off a letter to the bank manager with ‘Love and kisses’ (unless we wanted a loan). But the plethora of new media and new means of communicating in writing have caused us anxiety because we don’t want to get it wrong in that way.
The general rule of thumb I use is that I usually sign off emails with ‘Bless you’ or ‘God Bless’ or ‘Blessings’. I think that conveys a sense of wanting God’s best for that person that reflects how God sees them. And maybe that is the answer. Maybe we should think about how God looks at the recipient and then sign off in a way that reflects that?
Be blessed, be a blessing.