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An Open Letter To the Living From the Dead

Dear Living Ones,

I thought I’d write to tell you what I’ve learned since being dead. It shouldn’t take long. I know you are very busy.

I used to think as you do now. You have to prepare for the future. You must study to get the job, and then you must work overtime to keep it. And you must keep it, because starting again is terrifying. Without a glance, you will pass by many people while pursuing your goals.

You must get all the things, because appearances are important. Clothes project image, and image is everything. You must work hard or you’ll be called lazy, but not too hard–then you’re absent. You must find balance in a world demanding extremes in every context.

You are constantly doing things–accomplishing tasks, completing projects, and filling your time with activity.

You worry a lot. About everything.

Well, I’m shouting to you across the plane of existence: you’re doing it wrong! It’s too bad I had to die before learning how to live. But you still have time, so let me share some things I’ve learned since departing from my backward ways.

  • If it’s not about people, it’s not important. Those things you were concerned with are all gone here. No one remembers them. No one cares. But those people are here, the ones you hurt while finishing your task, making your widget, and perfecting your project. The person is more important. They always are.
  • Worry never solved anything. All those what-ifs, causing stress and accomplishing nothing, were wasted. Your time would be much better spent in prayer. (Trust me, it will all make sense when you get here.)
  • Don’t miss now for the next. How many times will you fail to help in the moment while preparing for the future? The time is now. Stop and give. Then give more. And for the good Lord’s sake, don’t expect anything in return.
  • Maya Angelou was right: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
  • You are not supposed to live for you. I’m still trying to wrap my figurative head around this one. It goes against everything the world taught me. Apparently, it’s completely backwards. But all the dead will tell you: it works better when you live for others. There’s a guy here that does that really well, and we’re trying to be more like him.
  • You have enough. Are you not fed? Have you not shelter? Do you not have a family to love, and who loves you? Have you your faith? You have all you need.
  • No one knows better than you. Stop depending on so many opinions. No one else has walked in your shoes. No one else has lived your life. No one else has as much to gain, or as much to lose. The people you think have it together are just people; they’ve just lived a little longer. (And trust me, they’re not as together as you think they are. I can see them all on Thanksgiving now.)

I’m grateful for the chance to bring you this insight. You’re free to do what you want with it. The grace of Jesus Christ will give you what you don’t deserve, and his mercy will protect you from what you do deserve.

You can live the old way and still end up in heaven. But why live in hell on earth?

About Jason

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is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of five. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. Jason also writes about leadership, parenthood, and worldview development on FIGHTER FAITH. His book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview is now available on Amazon.

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5 comments

  1. Lili

    Excellent! If I had received a letter like that when I was a youngin’, I may not have had such a difficult journey to today. Thanks for this different approach to accomplishing something so good.

  2. Joel

    Fantastic article. I love the quote by Maya Angelou. Definitely inspiring. Thanks for sharing. God bless.

  3. Amelia

    Jason, nicely put. I like this, “It’s too bad I had to die before learning how to live.” I hope this doesn’t happen to me! Also, the part of the article that resonates with me is this “You have enough”. Often I stress over all that I don’t have, and fail to be thankful for what I do have. Thanks for the reminder. Great article 🙂

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