Dear 16 Year Old Matt Newman,
I’m going to say this upfront – stop making fun of your Dad’s baldness. By the time you’re 21 your hair will begin to fall out. It will not be fun. And no, you won’t shave your head and have the dignified bald look of Patrick Stewart you keep telling yourself. It’ll be annoying. It’ll be irritating. But, it’s genetics. Prepare yourself.
There are so many things I want to tell you, but I’ll keep it brief. You’re busy, I’m sure, with unimportant things. They’ll seem important, but most likely they are not. Also, you think you relate to the music of Goldfinger, but you don’t. Your life is fine not super depressing. Stop being angsty in your musical choices. Although, even as an adult, I will say one thing: Superman is the bomb; the horns are awesome on that track.
You probably feel really smart now. You’re on track to be valedictorian of your graduating class. Well played, young Newman, but don’t get cocky. You are about to enter a new world in college surrounded by people who were also smart and high up in their class. You’re smart – many of them will be smarter. Get ready for it. It’s not all straight A’s. You’re going to have to study. That’s not going to be fun. But, it’ll be worth it. You’ll learn so much. Focus on the learning, it’s important.
You will put on weight and not be super skinny forever. Your magical “30×30” jeans won’t fit forever. It happens, deal with it.
The d20 system is better than 2nd Edition Dungeons and Dragons. THAC0 is never coming back. Get over it. THAC0 was too difficult for new players to understand anyway, a system like the d20 system is the future of D&D. The only way for the game to continue existing was to expand to more casual players. THAC0 turned them away.
Friendship matters. Having one or two friends you can talk to on a regular basis matters. It becomes difficult as an adult to make new friends, make them as a teenager and in your twenties and try to keep in touch. I know I’ve lost touch with a number of friends. Don’t let that happen. And don’t let the temporary anger of a situation allow a friendship to begin to fade. Again, friendships matter and having good friends you can talk with matters.
Don’t speed when driving into Stillwater or on NY-146. Trust me. Don’t do it. Also, avoid owning a red Escort. Not that they’re bad cars, I just know they’re targets for other vehicles to hit you. Just saying – consider another color or model.
You won’t end up working in a chemical plant. I know, I know, that’s part of what made you interested in chemical engineering. You end up going a different route with your career after a stint in graduate school. Trust me, it works out fine.
Also, when you are in graduate school you will meet an amazing woman who will one day be your wife. Do not let her go. Do not ignore her, go to her right away. Go to her and make her your bride as quickly as you can. The sooner you get to start your life with her, the better off your life will be. I’m not kidding. Wife her.
By the time you’re an adult you’ll like to watch sports, football specifically. I know, sounds insane with how little you care about it now. You’ll be a Ravens fan. Yes, the team from Baltimore. Don’t want to reveal the whole story – but sports are fun to watch and enjoyable to watch with friends. It’ll also help you get closer to your younger brother because it’ll give you common ground on which you can talk. No, I’m not kidding. Sports are fun, but they can also be a distraction from the important things in life – don’t turn them into an idol.
On gaming – you love video games, especially older video games. Your Sega Genesis I know still gets a lot of love. The next generation Nintendo console is going to allow you to download all manner of classic games. Seriously. It’s going to be sweet. It’s awesome sharing them with my children. Oh, yes – you end up having children. I’ll leave it at that – I’ll leave the surprises which lie ahead regarding your children for you to learn as I did…while on the job.
Let us talk about sex. I know, you think about it often and are probably really excited to get to this topic. Stop for a moment and listen to me. There will be opportunities for you to fornicate. Yes, that’s right, I’m using the word fornicate. You’ve turned into that guy. Sex outside of marriage is fornication, plain and simple. You will be provided opportunities. Knowing myself, you’ll probably want to take them. I’m telling you now – don’t do it. Wait. Why? Sex is a beautiful, pleasurable thing the Lord designed for marriage. Wait for marriage. It’ll be worth the wait. Trust me. As a married man with children now, I can tell 16 year old me with confidence that I wish I had waited. I wish I had waited for my wife instead of letting myself fall to sin.
Sex is misused by the world. It’s viewed as just a “thing” to do, nothing more. You probably don’t notice it, but just pay attention to TV every now and then and see how cavalier everyone is about sex. It’s not just a thing. You give a bit of yourself away when you have sex and, frankly, the only time you should be as one flesh with another person is in the confines of marriage. Can you handle the consequences of sex outside of marriage? What if a girl gets pregnant? What if you contract a disease? What will you do? Inside of a marriage, you have trust – you have a permanent partner for raising a child. I know this because I am married to an amazing woman. You should wait for her. Please, heed my advice horn-dog 16 year old Matt Newman.
Now, most importantly, let’s talk about Christ. You will be told many different things about the Lord Jesus Christ. I am here to tell you some important things. First, you are not currently saved. You think you are, but you also think Goldfinger is amazingly moving music. It’s a difficult concept to grasp, but God is three persons in one. I know, you’ve heard it all the time in church and they have the amazing stained glass displaying it which you don’t appreciate as a teenager. But consider it – God has three aspects in order to better relate to His creation. He is our loving Father in Heaven. He became flesh and lived among us as Christ. And He dwells within us as the Holy Spirit. It’s amazing and it’s beautiful. It seems odd to you now, especially since you think you’re a Christian. You are a “Christian,” but it’ll be another three years before you come to the moment in your life where you realize you need Christ to be your savior and Lord.
Please take note of the words of Paul in Romans 3:23 – “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Note the wording – “ALL.” Not some, not a few, everyone. Everyone is weak. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone falls short of the Lord and sins. But, there’s hope. As Paul also writes in Romans 6:23,”For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We deserve to die for our sins, but through Christ there is hope. Through Christ there is redemption. Through Christ there is freedom. Remember that.
Also, you will at one point believe the false doctrine that Christ was metaphorical about Him being the Son of God. There’s no better proof than Christ’s own words in John 10:30, when Jesus says, “The Father and I are One.” That’s right. He’s claiming divinity right there. There should be no doubt that He was being literal. Trust in the Lord. Trust in His Word and begin to read it. You’ll learn so much more than if you take the word of others for what the Bible says. You will go from this agnostic pretend Christian you are to devout, Evangelical Christian preaching (literally from time to time) the Gospel in a Southern Baptist church as an adult. Prepare yourself and start to read the Bible now.
You will have regrets, don’t dwell on them. Seek forgiveness from the Lord and move onward. He can cleanse all sins.
I know this is all a lot to take in. I know you’ll want to ignore me and live your life as you see fit, but trust me. I’ve been there. I lived through it. I’m you.
Wow, I really just said, “I’m you.” You’ll see why that’s funny in 2010.
Anyway, seriously, heed my words from the older, wiser, and much balder you. Love Christ. Love your family. Love your friends. Love yourself. In that order.
Adult Matthew Newman
P.S. As an adult, you will be able to grow a serious beard. Never let it go. Beards are awesome.
Based on a post originally written March 5, 2013