Green: The overflowing email inbox and why it matters to me


I currently have seventy-five thousand, four hundred eighty-five pieces of unread fan mail sitting in my bedroom. I feel so humbled and honored and really just… overwhelmed. I’d like to thank my parents, and my husband, and all the little people who helped me on my journey to greatness.

Renae Green column

OK, so it isn’t exactly fan mail. It’s junk mail. And yes, it is in my bedroom, because that’s where my laptop is. It’s in my email inbox. My husband calls me an email hoarder.

I prefer the term, “collector.”

I hate to delete stuff. It’s an addiction. I can currently retrieve emails sent in 2001, and I love that. I have a virtual history of my life, right on my computer.

I have pictures of my kids.

I have early forms of manuscripts I’ve written and sent to friends to critique.

I have dozens, no hundreds, no thousands of rejection letters from publishers and editors here in the U.S., and even a few from Europe. My writing has been rejected by some of the most prestigious publications in the world, and I have the e-mails to prove it.

To me, each and every email is a relevant form of communication. Somebody took the time to write me a letter and send it to me. And even though I may not read them all, I might. Someday, I may need that contact information, or that product, or that whatever. Deleting an email is like shutting the door in someone’s face.

I admit, I have deleted a few emails from wealthy widows in distant, third-world countries who want to leave me a fortune. I feel that money should go to someone far more deserving. Consider it my donation to charity.

My dear husband, God bless him, is an email neat freak. His inbox stays at zero, and he has multiple folders for the emails he might need in the future. Anything that doesn’t belong in one of his color-coded folders gets deleted immediately. It’s tragic, really. All those possibilities, exiled to cyberspace, never to be seen or heard from again.

I’ve put quite a bit of thought into this, and I think Jesus would collect emails. He did say, “Come unto me, all you weary and heavy laden.” I feel he would have extended that invitation to emails, as well. “Come to me, all you advertisements, all you newsletters and blog posts, and I’ll give you a home.”

All those people with their marches and their posters and their chants about inclusion—I’ll bet at least half of them delete emails without even reading them. That’s just wrong.

Though my email inbox is a mess, I’m fine with it. But it’s gotten me thinking . . . what if emails were people? How many times have I written off a friendship or discarded a relationship because it didn’t seem like something I needed at the time? How many times have I passed others without really seeing them because I’m so absorbed in myself?

While I may be convinced, at some point, to clean out my inbox, I hope I never discard people. I pray I look at others and see a world of possibility. Wouldn’t it be great if, like Christ, I became known as the people hoarder . . . a storage place for the hurting, the weary, the broken-hearted . . . wouldn’t it be great if I became a collector of friends?

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . .” Matthew 6:20.

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly perfect children, and far-too-many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com