General Identity

Letters to Younger Me- Age 14

MW Editor’s Note:  From time to time, we post a series of letters that older you might have written to younger you. Letters that help bring perspective and hope for the future. Perhaps some of these letters resonate with you. Perhaps, some of these letters might help you work through some growing-up experiences that have shaped the man you are becoming or should become. 

Dear Younger Me.

Congrats, man! 9th grade! Freshman! Done with those squirrely middle school years. I see you’ve decided to grow your hair longer, down to your shirt collar. And new glasses. No more of those old black frames. And, what is that on your upper lip? Is that the beginnings of a mustache?  Looking good man!

Elections!

So, I heard you had the guts to run for 9th-grade class treasurer. You asked Kevin to be your campaign manager. He’s been a good friend to you; probably one of the best you’ve had. I know he loves Jesus, but you don’t seem to have the confidence to be as open about your faith as he does. Your secret faith is part of the reason why you struggle with life. Yet, you keep trying harder to live two lives; Jesus on Sunday and the rest of the week you try to fit in at school. Do you actually read that Bible you carry on Sundays?

Flaming Defeat

You lost miserably in that election. You had every hope winning would secure you a level of popularity that would finally convince the world you matter. Sorry to burst your bubble, but winning like that is ultimately fleeting. Don’t get me wrong, you would have made a great treasurer. Deep down, your honest character is what the job needs, but what high school freshman votes for integrity? To them, you’re a no-name. In high school, popularity is power.

Career

You might not be made for politics, but you sure have taken an interest in drafting!  In fact, your shop class has spurred you on to become an architect. Let me recall, you got a top score in drafting; it was so easy for the way your brain is wired. When you asked your shop teacher what you could do with drafting he told you you could become a draftsman or an architect. 

You asked, in your typical 14 year old mind, “Which one makes more money?”  And architect you shall become!  Older you has to say that was probably one of your best decisions ever!  Next to trusting in Jesus.  I can honestly say that it’s been quite the career, from architecture school, to an intern architect to now being a partner in an architectural firm. Whether you realized it or not, God was at work in your career choices. Not that if you had become a draftsman you would have chosen second best. Not at all!  What architecture has done is shape many aspects of your unique Kingdom voice. Proud of you, man!

Girls and Sex

Ok, I know this embarrasses you, but we need to talk more about these two important issues. Remember 9th-grade science class?  You were sitting at a lab table before class began. Your buddies were hanging with you when that cute girl, Karen, walked up to you. Remember what she asked?  “I think you are cute. Would you go with me?”  To which you replied, “Where?”  Bombed that one!  Dude, she wanted to be your girlfriend. What you’ve been dreaming and longing for. Instead, you clued out and thought she wanted to go do something. Even your buddies at the table realized what was going on. Your face turned so red, you couldn’t concentrate the rest of the day. I don’t think you heard one thing your science teacher said.

All I know is you went home after school and did something that’s become a bad habit; you masturbated. You turned what God meant as a normal part of growing up (wet dreams) into something you literally forced your body to do. Fear, frustration, anger, tiredness, loneliness, mixed with lust. These are real feelings but taking it out on yourself is actually messing with your brain, not to mention your emotions. Can I be gut-level with you… masturbation does nothing but kill your ability to truly love and have intimacy in relationships. Deep down you want to be known, to be loved. Repeatedly spending your sexuality on yourself works against the very thing you long for.

So, next time you see a cute girl you’d like to get to know or have a girl tell you you are cute, respond with a smile and become very interested in knowing more about her. To know and to be known.  This is what your soul wants.

Extreme Emotions

Remember how we talked about how adolescence expands your emotional bandwidth. Some of that is good, very good. Other aspects are dangerous, downright scary.  I’ve noticed that when you are backed into a corner, you yell alot. Agitated, irritable, you lash out, saying things you would under normal circumstances regret. Self-control (or your lack of it) drives you to extremes. It’s why you reject anything mom and dad say to you and why you can’t stand your sisters teasing you about your changing body. Honestly, you struggle with discouragement and dare I say, depression. 

Out of my utmost love for you, as older you, I’m going to challenge you to give all of your emotions to the Lord. The confusing ones and the ones where you are flying high. There is no emotion Jesus cannot handle. The reason I challenge you in this is if you continue to struggle with your identity and the emotions you experience in unhealthy ways, it will come back to haunt you in ways you won’t like.  I’m not saying this to hound you, but to be honest about growing up.

I’m here for you, man.  Want to go camping this weekend?

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of www.Mentoring-Warriors.com. Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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