Dear Younger Me Series - "Difficulty Will Be Worth It" by Matt Diekemper

This week's "Dear Younger Me" letter is written by Drury University senior Matt Diekemper. Matt is a pitcher for the Panthers and is owning a budding faith in Jesus Christ. As you'll read in this letter, Matt is open about his life, his shortcomings, and shows the power of God and the effects of the Gospel. He shares his weaknesses in a way that shows it's really about the strength of God. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

Dear younger Matt,

I am writing this letter to tell you to that everything that will happen to you will all make sense later on. A lot of things will happen to you and you will endure a great deal without understanding why, but you will soon enough. I am also writing this to give you warnings about the difficulties that you will face because things get difficult for you and the difficult times will last for a while.  Just hold on though because all of the difficulties will be worth it eventually.

I know what you are currently thinking. Second grade is a lot of fun and you are loving the attention from baseball and basketball. You have a great family that loves you and will do anything for you. You are thinking that everything is perfect and nothing can or will go wrong. You are about to have your world absolutely rocked. You know that your cousin, Hannah, was born with holes in her heart and that she has gone through many surgeries to try and repair her heart. All of the surgeries will fail and you will only have the privilege to spend one year with Hannah here on earth. You will remember the next few days for the rest of your life. The pain that you witnessed personally and from your family members will stay with you for a long time. Hannah’s death with impact you more than you could ever understand as a young child and even to this day as I write this letter to you. There is going to be a lot of heartache, tears, and anger in your life as you mourn and suffer the loss of Hannah.

After Hannah’s death, you are going to dive into sports and place your identity in the amount of success that you have in them. This will work for you for a couple years and it is going to be where you get your childhood dreams. Your success on the court and field make you want to become a professional basketball player. You will spend countless hours in the basement playing video games and acting out your future high school, college, and professional games against your biggest rivals. Oh how I wish you had spent those hours actually practicing and playing those scenarios instead of just acting them out but that’s another story and those days are going to make you into the man that is writing you today.

You know how I said placing your identity in sports would only work for a couple of years? Yeah, well that time has come and past and you are about to enter high school. Your success on the basketball court is going to only get worse. You will never start a high school basketball or baseball game, not even senior night, but I’ll talk about that in a little bit. You will play football as a freshman and be good enough to start on the freshman team and even change your dream to play college football for a few months. Don’t worry; it’s just a phase. You will go from wanting to quit baseball to focus on football to end up quitting football all together before your freshman year ends. I wish you wouldn’t have to have that conversation with mom and dad about quitting football. They are going to be shocked and a little mad at first. They will get over it though. As you move through high school, you will get caught up in your baseball ability and dream of playing in college. You will also get caught up over a girl in high school that you want so badly to date. It doesn’t ever happen and you will waste a lot of your time and thoughts over it. While you go through all of this, you are going to live a secret life that you hide from others pretty well. This secret life will be a late at night addiction to pornography. If there is one thing that I wish that you would never do, it is this. Porn is going to consume you. It will be all that you think about. You will desire the attention and affection from a girl so badly because all you want to do is have sex with her. You think that this will make you cool and one of the guys. You think that is what will make you the guy that everyone wants to be around if this happens. You could not be more wrong.

Remember how I said you won’t ever start a high school basketball or baseball game? That is because you will tear the labrum in your right shoulder diving for a loose ball in a basketball game. It will require surgery and you will miss the rest of your high school athletic career. You get an honorary start on senior day during baseball and get to stand on the field for one pitch. You will cry and try to hide it because you are a tough guy but you really aren’t so stop acting like it. Let those tears flow because it won’t be the last time you will cry. You think your dream of being a college baseball player is over, but I have some good news. I know what you are thinking reading this, finally this guy is giving me some good news!

After your rehab, you will email school about walking onto the baseball team. You will try out at Drury University and become a Panther. You think that this is your big break and that you will be the big man on campus as a freshman. Well you are the big man on campus but just not in the way you think you will be. You will soon realize that there is a big gap in talent between you and the other guys on the team and you will be the big man on campus because you also realize that you are out of shape and need to make a change with your body. You feel the need to try and fit in with your new teammates, and you think that you have to do it off the field at parties since your talent on the field won’t impress them. You will begin to party way too much. There will be nights that you do not remember because you drank too much. That porn addiction in high school will follow you to college and it gets worse. You now use parties as a way to feed that addiction by picking up girls and sleeping with them.  It will take you two years to get your body in shape to be able to play this game at a competitive level in college. There is good and bad to this taking place. It is good because you drop a bunch of weight and are ready to play, but it is bad because it will take a blown out UCL in your right elbow for it to happen. This will crush you but you will make it through and this is when your life will begin to change.

You come back for your junior year and you are in shape and healthy. You think this will be the year that you see your hard work pay off with on the field results. You will only pitch two innings as a junior but your life is changed in a way you would never imagine. You will meet a new teammate, Devan, and Cru staff member, Brandon. These two guys will begin to work wonders in your life. You will go to Denver for Cru’s Denver Christmas Conference with Devan, Jess, and Kylie. At this conference, you will realize that you are missing and longing for a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of the world. You have been searching for this relationship since Hannah’s death. Hannah’s death will leave emptiness inside you that only Jesus can fill. The next fourteen months will be a crazy ride. You will see a change in your heart that continues to grow in Jesus. You will see yourself battle the addiction to porn and no longer lust after women all of the time. I wish I could tell you that it was all completely gone. You are still battling with it now, but Jesus is working in your heart and with His help, you will be able to overcome the lust that has controlled you since you were eleven years old. I also wish that I could tell you that this Christian walk is easy but it is not. You will cry to God, yell at God, and ask God why you are still struggling with these things of the old you. You will see changes but be frustrated by them not happening fast enough. Take a deep breath and trust in God because He knows what He is doing with your life. You will also see your dream of being a professional athlete change to be a high school teacher and coach to then become an intern and future staff member for Athletes in Action and spend your life in athletic ministry. I wish I could tell you what will happen to you after graduating college and what your life will look like and if the desire to have a wife and family happens but I can’t. What I do know is that as long as you wake up every morning trying to do everything you can to glorify God and trust that He is in control of your life that you will be okay.

Keep your head up and know that everything that you went through has made you into the man that is sitting here today writing this letter to you. Also know that I would not change any of the things you will go through because you are exactly where you need to be in your life and walk with Christ.

Love,
Matt

Bottom of the Ninth #196 - February 24, 2017