I’ve struggled for some time on how to speak to this topic, without offending a few people I know and millions of people I have yet to meet, so I’ll just write it to myself, 20 years ago…
—Hey there. Hope this note finds you with a smile on your face. You are probably in your late teens as you read this. I remember a few things about you. You were such a serious young man, so intense and focused. Being spiritual and as close to righteous as you thought possible was always important to you.
I want to ask you to ponder one question over the next phase of your life, as you struggle to find your way and make the big choices that lie ahead. “How much does your God need your help?”
Before you answer with something deep and poetic, really think about the question. It’s a question that will impact how you pray, how you interact with other people, and even how you see yourself.
At this moment, you think God needs your help as much as you need your next breath. You often think that without your involvement, the very plans of God will somehow fall apart. I’m not going to argue theology; this is just a conversation between you and me. Remember, I have another 20 years of joy, pain, and exposure informing my point of view, so bear with me.
I’m not saying that you should not pursue righteousness, honor, and deep spirituality. I only ask that you explore the why more than the what.
Everything doesn’t have to have some huge destiny changing meaning. Stealing that 2 cent candy just meant you were a mischievous 7 year old, curious to test your boundaries, not that the heavens would disown you. Or, at that 7th grade dance… feeling the sensation of your first contact with a girl was as natural as any other first. The judgement you carried with each “sinful” moment was unwarranted. In each, your humanity was affirmed, so take a load off. You are not one “mistake” away from ruining God’s plan for your life.
When you did kind things for friends, foes, and strangers alike, understand that you were not always doing God’s work. Sometimes, your deeds came from a place of insecurity. You needed to be liked, accepted, and even wanted. Again, nothing wrong with that. Just don’t embellish the memory into making yourself a saint.
When you are at the height of your “hunger for God,” be careful not to make everything in the world fit your narrative. I’ve learned that a lot of life happens that we will never know about. A lot of good people and even nature itself doing amazing things that may never receive acknowledgment from you or in your definition of a future heaven. All this life continues on with or without you, so breathe… make a few mistakes, meet some strangers, explore some new places, faiths, ideas. Be uncomfortable; challenge what you’ve heard your whole life; dine with your enemy. LIVE! It’s not going to kill you.
Oh yeah, a little alcohol will not turn your into a drunk. Drink a little… In the future, you’ll find out that a glass of wine a day is actually good for you! No wonder Jesus turned water to wine. Oh, and as for marijuana, well let’s just say its medical benefits and eventual legality, might just blow your mind!