I asked my good friend, Clint Clifton, to share his thoughts on the blog today. He is busy planting churches all around DC, military bases, and his community. I was curious what he would say if he could talk to his 20-year-old self, so I asked him to write this blog post.
My family has been doing ministry with the Garmans for more than a decade. We’ve been through the best of times and the worst of times both corporately and personally. Our friendship and partnership in the Gospel has been an incredible blessing to my wife and I over the years. We have laughed hysterically at them and with them and count them among our most treasured friends.
I’m busy right now. Unbalanced. The kind of busy that feels inescapable. The kind that you hate but kind of love too. My priorities are not reflected on my calendar – I’ll get things straightened out soon but for now they are not straight. For this reason, I had determined to deny miscellaneous activities such as blogging.
Annie didn’t know this when she asked me to write a blog post for her. As she was asking, I was already fabricating a “Thanks, but no thanks” response, knowing full well that there was no subject under the sun that would cause me to say yes to her request. But when she said, “I’d like you to write a letter to the 20-year-old you,” I didn’t see that coming.
So simply, because I’m interested in knowing what I’d say to myself, I now submit to you, this single entry into Annie’s digital diary.
I’ve never had a little brother, but I’ve always wanted one. Of course, you knew that already. You know a lot of things about me but… only a fraction of what I know about you. The past fifteen years have been full of unexpected twists in the road. It wouldn’t be right for me to tell you about them or even to foreshadow the substantial joy and trauma that awaits you. Suffice to say, you have exciting days ahead. There are a few pieces of general advice that won’t let the cat out of the bag completely so, here goes.
First, your current plans are total rubbish. Food, friends, occupation, schooling, kids, homes, cars are all different than you imagine. I won’t tell you what you’re wrong about, but I will tell you that you’d be wise to hold those things loosely as you prepare to hand your life over to Jesus.
Second, your greatest feature is faith. The best thing you have going for you is your complete certainty that God has good plans for your future. Along the way you’ll be tempted to exchange faith for reason. Don’t. You are right to simply trust God. Trust him in all things and resist the urge to reason yourself out of simple faith in God’s handling of the unknown.
Third, you have completely underestimated the magnitude of fatherhood and husbandry. You don’t know what you don’t know about the learning curve before you concerning your aptitude as a father and husband. Do a lot of introspection and seek counsel from older wiser men about your role. Whenever your vain heart starts to tell you that you’re a good dad or a good husband – watch out. A reminder of your fragility is just around the bend.
Fourth, your desire to be good at everything will make you good at nothing. Right now you want so much to be good at everything and you actually have the energy and stamina to believe it’s possible. Forget that. It’s not. Your future incudes you doing one thing well. Force yourself to focus.
Fifth, you dramatically underestimate the importance of Godly mentorship. Subject yourself to scrutiny, to instruction and to the critical eye of those older and wiser than you. Right now you only want to spend time with those who are like you…you’d do better by spending time with those who are more mature than you.
I know you well enough to know that you will skim this letter and then stuff it under the seat of your filthy car all but forgetting about it. The best I can hope for is that in a moment of desperation you’ll feel the need for a bit of wisdom and dig around under your seats for it.