An Open Letter To My Younger Self

Forgive me, please. I’ve been meaning to connect with you for quite some time. Days became months, and months became years… I got busy, and distant. The space created was intentional and forced and in our best interest, trust me.

The truth is, I have harbored hatred in my heart toward you. On many occasions I wanted to cut you to pieces, and shatter the mirror that reminded me of your depravity! I have had dreams of killing you, and pushing you off a towering ledge ~ and I imagined what your funeral would be like. I have torn apart your pictures, and mocked your crooked teethe and poor posture.

I know you! I know the way you habitually pick at your fingers when you’re lost in thought. I know your secrets and your shame. I know you’ve said too much. Yes, I know about that closet addiction and the bible verse you quote to tell yourself that it will be okay. I know you blame everyone else for the ecclesiastical trauma you limped away from. But the truth is, you were never more true than the moment you plead guilty.

And in your confession, things have begun to change internally.
Now therefore, there is no condemnation.

If I could have your complete attention, I would put you in a choke hold until you are ready to surrender to my counsel… There are a few things I want to tell you:

1. Guard Your Heart

Be careful. In your desire to love and be loved, you will be tempted to trust the wrong people with the most sacred of your possessions. Your heart is a vessel that pumps royally-transfused blood into veins that run fervently toward mercy. You stay awake at night dreaming of changing the world and making a difference and zeal for the Father’s House will consume you.

Don’t trust the applause of men. They will hail you in one breath, and crucify you in the next. Don’t trust the shallow nature of momentum and the ever-illusive amens. Don’t trust the pinches on the cheek or the words of affirmation from fair-weather friends. Don’t give your heart away to the lethal drug of the stage. The addiction is a virus that will eat your soul, and rape your innocence.

After you’ve had your heart torn asunder, you will find yourself more likely to random overreactions of sudden panic and noisy retreat. You’ll see the worst in people. You’ll avoid conflict because you will be afraid of being abandoned. You will prefer to hide under the covers and pray that the clouds roll away.

And it will take years to heal from the destructive lies that you’ve believed; Years to uproot the weeds from the garden you’ve planted… the garden of regret.

2. Love Your Wife

After the smoke clears and the haters leave anonymous comments, she will be the anchor of hope that wakes up beside you every morning. Her quiet strength roars in a decibel one octave too high for cognitive evaluation, but her faith in action will restore your confidence that all will be well.

She is the shy freshmen in a canoe that left you speechless. She wore the fire out of those birkenstocks, and met you everyday at the clock tower on campus. She will bring you three adorable daughters, and you will find in her a resilience that silences the enemy. She can rock a hoola-hoop like a Puerto-Rican diva, and her maternal instincts know no boundaries.

At the end of your life, she will be there until the last breath is taken. Every decision you make will be an investment in your covenant, and the outpouring of grace will be the remedy to the moody blues. Waking up next to her is evidence that the Lord’s mercies are new every morning…

3. Have Faith in Grace

All of those elementary Sunday School lessons are true.
Jesus loves you, this you know… For the Bible tells you so. Little ones to him belong, we are weak but He is strong.” From your infancy, you have been raised to believe in the promises of Scripture; God is good and Jesus died on the cross for your sins and his blood covers your guilty plea.

Don’t ever stop believing in the beautiful Story of Amazing Grace! Place your confidence in the promise that God’s grace is enough to sustain you. One day, you will be tempted to dismiss it all as unknowable and uncertain… In that moment, remember the time you were baptized in a river in Montana, beside the waterfall. Remember the feeling of resurrection when you came up from out of the water. Remember breathing in the abundance of scandalous grace, and never forget the freedom you embraced.

Grace is a dance that you will learn to embrace. Your first attempts will be awkward and out of sync with the rest of the world. You will be tempted to retreat to the corner and sulk in your loneliness. But the magnetism of the Dance will woo you back to the movement of yes and wait and surrender. And your natural inclination will collide with the spiritual insistence that the song is familiar.

Grace will squeeze the hate from your mirror,
and wipe the tears from your eyes.

She will seduce you with her relentless invitation.

Her violence is an incoming Tide, washing away your castles of sand.

You will learn to inhale the surrender, and drown in her mystery.

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