Monday, January 26, 2015

Secrets are garbage.

Dear You,

It has been the ink on a crinkled sheet of paper, bound to a one-dollar notebook from Walmart, that has torn down the walls of my broken soul and bore the darkest parts of me. 

When my eyes are clouded by tears and my heart is crying out desperately, screaming “why” with all the breath in my lungs, my hands still find their way to a fresh page and click-y pen to deliver the real me in letters that could never escape from my mouth on their own. 

The truth is, you can’t know me until you’ve read me. 

My journals and post-it notes and grocery lists and annotations speak more about me than I speak about me because vulnerability and honesty don’t, can’t, won’t exist in my head. So, instead, I’ve built up a fortress of scattered lies and false laziness that keeps me safe, tucked away under the cover of comfort, while my tattered insides pound and pound away—my skin its own drum. 

Tomorrow, if you were to approach me about this letter, I would surely reply, “Haha, yeah. I was just bored, avoiding homework per usual,” Then I would use the skills I’ve built up over years of hiding and change the subject from me to you, avoiding all conversation that might expose the worn-down, fragmented pieces of my spirit. 

But, I’ve never wanted to change something so much. 

You’d think I’d be happy, my ten-foot pole barely touching you from across the room, keeping my secrets, well, my secrets.

But, I’m not.
Secrets are heavy.
Secrets are taxing.
Secrets are garbage.

I’m learning every day that God created vulnerability and community for a reason. With my own eyes I’ve witnessed communities of people so overcome by the weight of their own sin, by the weight of all their secrets. 

Secrets are garbage.

God did not create you, his body, to fight your battles all alone. The fulfillment and relief that comes from sharing your burdens isn’t something that can be explained in words. While my hands and a keyboard can write a letter that tells more about me than I do, vulnerability can’t be explained in the same format. 

When you are on your knees, a bomb strapped to your chest, you’ll cut any wire that’ll keep it from exploding. Your burdens—the bomb. Your lies and secrets and hiding away in the corner of your own room while your dearest friends ask each other where and why you are and their only answer is laziness and homework—the wires. 

God wants you to put the scissors down and let the bomb explode.

Give others a chance to carry your burdens, to peer into your heart, and to enter the dusty gates of your soul. 

You and I are worth so, so, so, so, so much more than a life in shadows. 

Learning and Living With You,


Be your own person.

Dear You,

“You’re Boring!”

Ever heard that one before? I know I have. From a time when I was very young, I heard that I was the boring child. I didn’t do, or want to do, anything exciting. For a while, I didn’t really care. But as we all know, words eventually take their toll.

I started trying new things, like skiing, snowboarding, wakeboarding and skating (the latter ended terribly). These things eventually led me to a different group of friends, who in turn led me to drinking and drugs and a lot of regrets. A lot of misery because of a childhood insult.

But, I turned it around. Well, I didn’t turn myself around, so much as God turned me around. Full 180, I was “boring” again. It was a weird time, still trying to be with the edgy crowd, while not being edgy. I felt like the stray barbeque sauce bottle among a sea of mayonnaise.

Now you may be wondering: Matt, why did you say all that? No, seriously, why?

Well, Faithful reader, I just want you to know that I know how much the words hurt. Sometimes they hurt so much, that you get that “Life Sucks and then you die” feeling. Which isn’t good or bad, it just is. It happens. There is nothing wrong with being a little down.

But you can’t stay down.

You (and by you I mean we) need to pick yourself up and show them that the words don’t mean anything anymore. You’ve heard them a million times and they were lies then and they are lies now. And yes, it will be hard, and it will hurt, and you will fail, and you will succeed. You just have to keep moving. You will stand out like a sore thumb. Own it. Make it you. Be “that guy”. Be “that girl”. What’s more boring than being what everyone else says you should be? The “blind leading the blind” comes to mind.

Be your own person. If you don’t know who you want to be, that’s okay too. Take your time, there is no rush to determine your own life. Once you take your stand as the “new you”, don’t think that you will be that way forever. People change, times change, styles change, trends change. Don’t be so worried about who you want to be, that you can’t be that person.

You need to know that who you want to be, can be who you are. But it takes blood, sweat and tears to get there. But never, ever sacrifice your health- physical, mental, or spiritual- to become someone. It will consume you.

If you want/need to cry, cry. Crying is good, and that’s coming from a guy who can count on his fingers the number of times he’s cried since he was 10.

I just want us all to see that who we are shouldn’t be dictated by others.

Learning and living with you,

Matthew Wheeler

Monday, February 17, 2014

This is our masterpiece.

Note: I encourage letter writers to not post anonymously, but I understand that sometimes that is not possible. After talking with this individual, it was decided that this was one of those times. Therefore, the letter is signed "Me" instead of with a name.

Dear You,

I was seventeen when my dad yelled at me for eating a sandwich. Coming down the stairs he said, “Do you know how many carbs are in bread? You don’t need more of those. I fought back and he called me a brat, an ungrateful little bitch. We fought for almost an hour. We were about to go to a football game, and I told him I didn’t want to go with him anymore. His response was, “It’s not a big deal- stop being such a drama queen.”

That’s exactly what abuse does. It slaps your soul, branding it with pain and then pours salt over it by saying you have no right to be hurt. You deserve everything that has happened to you. But friend, sometimes you don’t deserve it. Sometimes things happen to you that are not your fault. Abuse shames us into silence by saying we were supposed to be stronger, supposed to be smarter, supposed to be braver or better. Abuse says we got what we deserved.

Friend, you will meet people in your life who will tell you that you deserve the abuse they give you. They will tell you that you are unworthy, undeserving, and the way they treat you is your fault. That is not true.

You do not deserve cruelty.
You deserve tenderness and grace and freedom.
Love is supposed to set you free- if you are not free, it is not love.

My dad has never hit me, but verbal abuse finds its way into your soul and buries itself there in ways that most people underestimate. Friend, don’t stay silent. Start talking about it, and no matter what people tell you, don’t stop until someone hears you. You deserve to be heard.

And I will be here, banging my pots and pans with you, making a cacophony that will not be easily ignored.

This is our orchestra.
This is our masterpiece.

Learning and living with you,

Monday, February 10, 2014

It's okay that you're not ready.

Dear You,

I’m writing to tell you that it’s okay.  It’s okay that you’re not ready.

“Not ready for what?” you ask, as you tilt your head and pretend to not know what I’m talking about.

Here’s the thing – I know you.  And I know that the questions behind your eyes are so much deeper than, “Not ready for what?”  Oh no, there are a million more questions in those eyes – those eyes that have lost a little bit of their sparkle recently, those eyes that are a window into the heart that’s recently lost a little bit of its surety and fire.

I know there are things you aren’t sure about yet.  Things you don’t understand.  Things you’re not ready to be okay about.

And that’s okay.

Oh, and just in case you thought I was going to spare you that final kick-in-the heart (you know, the one that’s for your own good?) --- I’m not.  So here goes:

It’s okay that you don’t want what they want.

It’s okay that you weren’t ready for that.

I see you over there in the corner, beating yourself up over the fact that you weren’t ready – that you wanted something else.


I see you in your car, driving to your own blessings, questioning if all of this is what you’re supposed to be doing, and if you’re where you’re supposed to be.

You are.

I see you living your life, doing what you love, wondering if you should feel guilty for being fulfilled by things that don’t fit the mold you’ve been trying to squeeze yourself into for so long.

You shouldn’t.  Because you don’t fit there.  That mold – it’s not meant for you.  And that’s okay.


So here’s to not being ready – you and me. I promise you that one day you will be. And it will be its own kind of beautiful.  But for now – you not being ready is beautiful, too.  You just have to see it.

Learning and living with you,