Recently my youngest daughter asked me what I would tell the 20-year-old version of myself. I had to think that one through a bit, and realized she was on to something.
So that’s what this article is about. Who I was and what I was doing at 20 isn’t a picture I prefer to gaze back on. I was deep into sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll, binging on porn and masturbation at least once a day, severely depressed, angry, at times suicidal, and investing a lot of energy into trying to make life work the wrong way. The first time I had sex was with a prostitute. I was a year away from a disastrous affair with a married mother of three. I attended plenty of rock concerts where I saw other youth destroying themselves. There was self-hatred as a result of from being molested as a teen. Alcohol and drugs were constant. There was no peace.
So this is what I’d say to the 20 year old version of me.
You’re starved for love. Everything you’re trying right now to meet that need will fail, big time. Get off the drugs and alcohol and stay away from the rock concerts.
No woman can fill the void in your heart. The ultimate sexual experience is a delusion, whether with a girl before marriage, or with pornography. Both will leave you empty and more miserable than before the act. You would be much better off if you postponed dating until you got help. You have a lot of healing to do.
You’re hungry for connection and acceptance. The only place you will finally find love, connection, and acceptable, are with God, and safe Christians. You’re terrified of intimacy and the idea getting close to someone else makes you furious, which makes it extremely difficult to trust others. Start praying and asking God for a counselor, a Christian male, and later, a group to meet with.
Many Christians aren’t safe people to share with. Be extremely careful who you open up to.
You’re terrified of God. You see Him as angry at you, ready to destroy you for every mistake. All the sermons in the world aren’t going to get through to your heart until you face this and heal. Write about this in your journal and share it with someone.
The self-hatred you’ve struggled with is a result from being molested. So is the anger at women that surfaces occasionally. The suicidal thoughts stem from this as well. Journal this and share what happened with someone safe.
God isn’t who you believe He is today. As hard as this may be for you to receive, He loves you deeply. I know you’ll run away when I say this, get discouraged, or angry. Ask God to reveal Himself to you.
You will learn more about God from time alone with Him than you will at any church meeting.
Being alone is a good thing when you’re not isolating and when you use it for something positive, such as learning to connect with God. But right now you’re withdrawing into your shell when you’re alone as a way to feel safe. That’s an illusion that will only exacerbate your sense of loneliness.
You’ve got an adventurous spirit and you aren’t satisfied with people giving you cliché or pat answers. You want more out of life than most people. You love being with other people who are hurting or have been traumatized because you can relate to them. You don’t do well with people who are faking it. Those are all good things to cultivate.
Pride can destroy your life. Humility will save you a lot of pain.
Never give up, no matter how tough things get. You’re a lot stronger than you think you are.
Prayer is an amazing gift. Throw yourself into it.