16 years ago today, I wrote this in my journal:
What a day! I finished Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and have started More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell. Hopefully I’ll finish that tomorrow and then I can start No Compromise by Kieth Green.
Today I had to stand up to Craig and tell him that God didn’t want me to play drums for him and record his tape. I can’t willingly be a part of anything secular. I told him I couldn’t have the same friends and he was angry and shocked. He didn’t understand. I don’t expect him to. It’s a shame he felt angry and can’t understand why it’s this way, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I pleased God. Satan’s been trying to play on my pity and make me feel bad about what I did, but that won’t work. I’ve been asking God to keep me strong and help me stand my ground. Satan wants me to remain friends with Craig so he can use him to get to me and confuse me. That’s why I need to abandon all of my old friends.
I think the Lord wants me at CDO Assembly. Someone at work came up to me and asked to trade shifts, so now I have Wednesday off. That means I can go to the Wednesday service. Not a coincidence.
– September 11th, 1998
Dear Former Self,
I have to commend you for reading so much. Books are a great way to enrich yourself. They give you the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of another, and doing so will broaden your perspective. However, it looks like you are only reading church-approved books. I would advise against this.
Books like Mere Christianity and More Than a Carpenter are interesting, but you should also read books with other points of view, even if you disagree with them. In fact, especially if you disagree with them. If you only read “Christian books,” you’ll end up going through life with blinders on your eyes, unable to see any points of view besides the fundamentalist Christian view. This will make it impossible for you to understand and empathize with people who think differently.
It’s a shame about Craig. While I agree he’s not a very good influence, you did promise to play drums on his demo. You should always keep your promises. (By the way, I hope you’re not planning on throwing away all your CD’s just because they’re secular. As with books, it’s a bad idea to limit yourself to such a narrow range.)
And please don’t abandon all your old friends. Have you even considered the possibility that people with different beliefs can still be friends? That they can politely agree to disagree on some issues? Cutting yourself off from people who are different creates an us-vs-them mentality which is the cause of much of the world’s problems.
I see you’re considering going to church at CDO Assembly Church. But how do you know God wants this? As I implied in my last letter, sometimes people have gut feelings that have nothing to do with god. So someone wanted to trade shifts. It’s not like that’s never happened before. Coincidences do happen, you know. What you’re experiencing is confirmation bias, but you won’t learn about that for several more years. And something tells me it’s not going to work out at that church, anyway. But by then, you’ll have forgotten what you wrote.
– Matt, September 11th, 2014
This is part of an ongoing series called Letters to My Former Self.