16 years ago today, I wrote this in my journal (it’s the first thing I wrote after recommitting my life to Christ):
The most important thing I’ve learned is no matter where I am, what time it is, or who I’m with, I can always turn to God in prayer. He is always with me and I want Him to make every choice in my life for me. I’ve been praying that He would reveal to me what He would have me do and that I would never forget or stray again. Right now I’m under very strong demonic attacks and I am too weak and unprepared to do it alone as we all are. I need Jesus.
– September 10th, 1998
Dear Former Self,
I know what you’re going through. You just turned 18 and the reality that you have entered adulthood has hit with full force. Because of this, you spend a lot of time thinking about the big questions: What is the key to happiness? How can we know right from wrong? What is the meaning of life? Now that you’re an adult, you think you’re supposed to know these things.
I urge you to be patient. While you might be a legal adult, you are still a child, and you have decades of learning ahead of you. Christianity may offer answers to the big questions, but how do you know they are the right answers? If you blindly accept the teachings of the church, you may keep learning but you will stop thinking. And as a result, your intellectual development will be delayed by several years.
The truth is that these questions, like most questions in life, do not have simple answers, anyway. Maybe there is no key to happiness. Maybe right and wrong is a spectrum. Maybe life has whatever meaning you want. Instead of looking for the right answers, first you should ask whether these are even the right questions. I know that’s not as easy as just believing whatever Christian authors say, but it is much more rewarding.
Now let’s get to what you wrote. While I agree that you can start praying at any time and in any place, I want you to consider the following question: How do you know you’re not just talking to yourself? You say you want God to make every choice in your life for you, but how do you expect him to communicate his choices to you? Through ideas that pop into your head? Through Bible passages that seem relevant? If that’s how it works, how will you tell the difference between God’s thoughts and your own thoughts?
This is very serious. When making decisions, it is best to weigh your options, consider the opinions of trusted friends and family members, and imagine all the possible outcomes. If instead you spend your time in prayer and make decisions based on gut feelings, you are liable to make some major blunders. Asking God to make your decisions for you is the lazy way out, and it’s a way of evading responsibility for potential mistakes. It’s time to grow up. Make your own decisions. And when you do make a good decision, don’t give God the glory. Give yourself a little credit.
– Matt, September 10th, 2014
This is part of an ongoing series called Letters to My Former Self.