I don't recall ever writing an open letter before. I'm referring to a letter written to an individual, but publicly published. Nevertheless, I'm going to do it now. The catch, however, is that I am not going to identify the person I am writing to. He or she will know upon reading it. And I am told that the person to whom I write reads my blog. In this case, I especially hope so.
Some of us have the misfortune of being born into a family with a true gift for screwing up lives and making big mistakes. Everyone in the family has done it, and the only question is how long did we continue and how badly did it impact the rest of our lives?
I have long thought that there were striking similarities between you and me. Remember the time, long ago, when you blew up some sort of homemade device in the garage? You wound up in the hospital with a burned face. And your response to your dad was to explain that you thought you knew what you did wrong.
There was no concern about the danger or the fright to your family. Only analysis of what went wrong. Back then, you looked a lot like me, and I thought you acted a good deal like me, as well.
I have the dubious honor of leading my family - I guess I'm the "patriarch" now, right? - in childhood rebellion and making dumb, costly mistakes. I have missed some very nice opportunities in life - the Air Force Academy is one - and have left a trail of broken relationships and hurt people.
In fact, I probably hold some perverse sort of record, and I consider that, from age 12 until far into my adult years, I mostly threw my life away. Little good to show for it.
One great gift, I think, is some person or event that causes us to stop and consider our life. What have we done? What sort of legacy do we leave behind? What will someone who knew us write about us when we are gone? "He had fun" doesn't really cut it, but that's the apparent focus of many lives. Very often, that gift comes in the form of some deeply traumatic experience, something that rocks our boat, nearly to the point of capsizing.
You are at a point of crisis. I don't know - neither do you - what the depth of this time will be, nor what the outcome will be. It may turn out to be a minor bump in the road. Or it may be the end of the road.
You have a fine mind and great talent. I urge you to consider whether you are investing those in something important, something that will last forever.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that you support a Christian organization that works against slavery and human trafficking. Very commendable. I, too, have invested in the success of similar efforts.
In looking at a course for the rest of life - whether yours or mine - I look for ways to invest in people. I don't care a great deal about collecting toys or satisfying my whims. I want to know that the world will be just a little bit better because I was here.
I urge you to consider your own life, and what has come from it so far. Then, consider what you can plausibly expect to come from the remainder of it, and after it ends.
You know of my firm belief that a life lived without God is by definition a life that cannot have ultimate success. Such a life is in the final analysis focused on self and what satisfies our selfish desires. Emptiness. But a life lived with and for the one true and living God of the universe! Ah, that's a far different story.
I strongly commend it to you.