This is what country music does to me. It gets me sentimental and puts me in a retrospective state of mind.

I don’t actually like country music as music. I used to enjoy the stuff; I really prefer more complex music now, but I can’t deny I appreciate the bold sentiment and storytelling of the genre.

So I was considering what and who I am now and thinking about myself as a younger me. Part of this is because of a very special, very sacred experience I recently had after spending several weeks traveling the paths of my mind and also spending a lot of time on my knees.

If I could go back in time, or send a letter to myself as a teen, here’s what I think I would say.

Dear Me,

Quit it.



Hey, I said it was going to be brief.

Okay, I’ll go ahead and imagine that you, my wonderful readers, just tweeted me asking for details. I will spare you specifics, because I have recently been spared them myself, but it should suffice that I spent my younger years pushing people away and isolating myself, doing idiotic things that never did me any good, trying to make myself feel good about myself despite knowing full well what I was doing was wrong, and all in all alienating others and myself from any real connection with.. myself.

All of this stuff added up to a burden I’ve been carrying for a while, although a certain Savior has offered countless times to carry that burden for me.

On the other side of finally giving up that burden, I would maybe add a little more to that letter, now that I think about it more.

Dear Me,

Listen to your heart, you jackwagon. No, I mean really listen to it. Stop and think and think some more. Take a real, honest look at yourself.

You have a lot going for you, but it’s not the things you think.

Yes, life in the cult regularly sucks hockey pucks, but if you would just stop for a freaking minute, you might see that it was also okay. You are surrounded by a bunch of people who are experiencing the same thing as you! Isolating yourself from them is doing you a lot of damage, and I’m going to be the one who has to fix it. Connect with them; they’re really great people.

Really, really great.

The beauty in your quasi-brothers and sisters is a palpable thing, Jared. Because cult-life does suck, and not being able to be with your family, and not knowing what the family relationship is even like so you don’t even know what you are missing may just be the suckiest part of it, despite the illogic of that idea. But your comrades are still making connections. They’re still being human, allowing themselves to be human, loving, giving of themselves and more.

You are forcing yourself to miss out, and you are robbing yourself of friendships.

If you don’t stop, you won’t know how to relate to people at all.

Now for the good stuff.

It gets a lot better, man. No, seriously. First off, all that true love stuff you’re obsessed with doesn’t hold a candle to the real thing. You’re going to marry the hands-down coolest girl on the planet. She’s a beautiful brunette, has lovely green eyes, is a great kisser, and will love you beyond anything you deserve. She’s also smarter than you and is good to the core.

You’re going to have hilarious children, whose personalities are bigger than the galaxy. They will love you.

You’re never going to give up on your dreams. And they will come true. You WILL live in Japan and learn Japanese. You’ll learn a few more languages too. You will always love stories, and you will never stop writing them and you will even get better at it.

Face it, you need a lot of practice.

You’re going to find out that family is life. You’re going to have a great sister who impresses you with her character, intelligence and determination. And you and your dad, and your brother… well, I won’t give it all away.

God is going to save you. He has a Son and They both love you. You’re going to find them, find the truth you have ached for your whole life, and it will lead you to greater joy than you, seriously I kid you not, can imagine.

So Jared, quit it. You’re happy, but you can stop bullying, stop being self-righteous, stop lying to everyone including yourself. You can love and you can be loved. Truly and honestly.