Dear Younger Me Series
"Redeemed by Grace" by Casey Claflin
This week's "Dear Younger Me" letter is written by Casey Claflin. Casey is a Junior at Shawnee State University where he is finishing his degree in Business Administration. After his undergrad, Casey plans on going to seminary and become a Pastor and Apologist. Casey has been a follower of Christ for three years now, and only desires for others to come to know God personally. He is a very open young man and he will tell you it is only because of Jesus. From addictions to regrets, Casey has experienced many things in a life of only 22 years, but he will tell how great God is and why he believes God exists. Jesus saves. “As a result he does not live the rest of his life for evil desires, but rather for the will of God.” - 1st Peter 4:2
Dear Younger Casey,
What’s up bro? How’s it hanging? You might be wondering why I am writing this letter and, well, the reason is because throughout your 22 years of life you’re going to feel alone and unsatisfied, questioning the purpose of your existence. You’re going to experience death, emotional scars, emptiness, and loneliness all more than once. There will be moments that you will feel unloved and unwanted, moments when you wish you could feel wanted, and moments when life just doesn’t make sense. Don’t worry though, take heart because you’re not alone and you are loved more than you could ever imagine, even though you don’t deserve it one bit. Casey, all of the pain you’ve experienced and felt is going to be eliminated by the love everyone seeks. I’m writing this letter so that you will know that you are not alone, that you are loved, and that you are good enough.
Let’s start with your childhood. Growing up you have the typical childhood, parents, school, cousins, uncles, aunts, you get the gist. All of that is great, but you’re going to soon find out that the world is not puppies and rainbows. Some kids learn that at 12, some at 20, but you’re going to learn at the age of five. Over the next few years, you’re going to personally experience suicide, how destructive alcohol can be, and broken relationships. I’m going to tell ya now kid, rage is starting to bury itself within you. Depression will be no stranger to you and it will be by your side for several years to follow.
By age 12, from the outside, you look like a prototypical, growing adolescent, but there’s one problem - you’ve learned to shove all of your anger and rage deep inside of you. You have started seeking your identity, who you are and what you want to be about. Sports, baseball in particular, has been a great thing in your life, not because of the feeling of winning, but because you love the game. The ability to do something pushes you to be the best you can be. That is the determination your parents instilled in you. Music is also becoming a large part of your life. Started playing guitar to pick up the ladies, well Case, let me just say that life is not like an episode of Drake and Josh.
Constantly distracting yourself from what lies on your heart is one thing, but the problem is that it is not everlasting. Instead of looking for answers to your pain and rage inside, you just keep pressing it down. One day you just ride your bike to a nearby park and just yell at the top of your lungs to let something out. For the next six or seven years you are going to try and solve temporary pain with temporary solutions. None of it works. The pain and hurt you’ve experienced is not going to just leave you. By this time, you’ve convinced yourself you’re alone and that nobody wants anything to do with what you have bottled inside. In the next few years, your life and your heart are going to change and not for the better.
Your whole perspective is going to change when you dive into a bottomless pit of depravity known as pornography. Your loneliness, the desire to feel wanted, all of it is going to lead you onto a path of destruction searching for life in things that can only lead to death. You will be addicted to porn, lust, sexual impurity and immorality for nearly seven years. You will search for comfort and relationship in a world that can only destroy love and community. You’re going to see everybody in a new way. Women will be objects for your own evil desires. As I said, you’re chasing the wind, meaningless things, because you think it will bring satisfaction. It will only leave you broken.
High school, what a fun time! Time to put your name on the map. Goals of getting your name in CVCA’s baseball record book and playing college baseball, that’s been the plan for a long time. But high school isn’t going to be everything you thought it was. Lots of people feel that way, but you had big plans and you will feel as if you were lied to over and over again. Bad experiences in summer baseball are going to make you resent people, period. You feel burdened because you are the person constantly going to people, but no one wants to wants you. You’re going to become this quiet, introspective guy who stands off to the side and observes situations. You’ve never liked being like anyone else, you have always wanted to be your own person. You just wanted to be pursued. Case, you were being pursued the entire time.
The best thing that is going to come out of high school is the people you’ll meet and the friends you’ll make. Through baseball, bowling, wrestling, and the greatest lunch table to walk the halls of CVCA, you’re going to meet some really awesome people. Though they won’t know it, they really helped you deal with your problems. These friends are mentors, coaches, future best men, best friends, and I hope friends till the day we die. But you’re still afraid of what they might think, if they knew the real you.
We went to a Christian school all our lives. Going to Chapel Hill and CVCA meant that we sat in thousands of chapels and lessons of biblical stories. As a kid, we thought, “okay, cool, whatever,” but as you get older you’re going to say, “I don’t want to be a part of this bull.” You’re going to hate Christians because of what Christians have done to you and what you have seen Christians do to others. You’re going to be an agnostic all through high school because you believe that these Christians are fakes, even though you are just like them. You want nothing to do with God and doubt his existence because you don’t want anything to do with him. You put on your Christian mask and talk the talk so one calls you a sinner….
By your freshmen of college you have finally obtained everything you ever wanted. Beautiful girlfriend, Division 1 baseball player, and killing it in school. But guess what? It still doesn’t satisfy you! The porn, the sex, the baseball, the “this and that” all still leaves you feeling empty, unloved and unsatisfied because you were never chasing after love or satisfaction, only sin and death. The brokenness you will feel is because of your sin, but you don’t know what sin is or what it has done. This continues until one night in February 2014, the night that God calls you from your life in sin to a life of righteousness in Christ. That marvelous night, the guy who has felt alone, unloved and unsatisfied will experience the love of God and Savior who loves him so much that He was willing to give everything so that he could be your everything, Case. That God walked across a universe and manifested himself in the flesh and hang on a tree so that through the sacrifice of his blood you could be declared righteous and justified before the him. It’s the greatest night of your life because it is the night that you were given everything you could ever want and more and that is knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior and being born again into a new creation in Christ. Jesus saves.
A life that was marked with lies, deceit, rage, wickedness, and death was redeemed by the Grace of God through his Son, Jesus Christ. Years of battling depression, suicide, bitterness was now done away with by the power of the cross. It’s been three years or so since that day, and now I write this letter to you and anyone who may read it. My only prayer is three parts: that anyone who reads this letter will know that they are not alone. Alone in their struggles, in their pain or sorrow, in whatever. You are not alone. To anyone feeling unloved, to know that they are loved by the creator of the universe and all he desires is our hearts turned in faith to him so that we can live in harmony and worship with him. Lastly, that if they do not know Jesus that they come and surrender their life to him because that is the only place life is found. You can live your entire life trying to solve temporary pain and fill your heart with things of this world but they will never give you life. Only something that is eternal can satisfy you and the only eternal one is Christ.
P.S. I want to thank my mother and father for their love and support over my 22 years of life. Solus Gloria Deo: 1st Peter 4:2
Bottom of the Ninth #202 - April 7, 2017