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I was reading Tim Challies‘ blog and came across this letter written by John Piper in response to a request for advice from a teenager.

In it he affirms the teen by sharing his own struggles of growing as an adolescent, likening it to how a frog develops.

He describes his teen years as being similar to that of a frog; awkward, messy looking, and on public display, in contrast to that of a butterfly which experiences metamorphosis in the luxury and safety of a private cocoon.

What helped him during this time of transition, he explains, were the lessons learnt from three significant men in his life – C.S. Lewis, the Apostle Paul, and his father.

Each of these, says Piper, taught him that his well-being came not from liking and being happy with himself, but from focusing his attention on every amazing thing other than himself.

He says,

Introspection must give way to amazement at glory. When it does, becoming happens. If there is any key to maturity it is that. Behold your God in Jesus Christ. Then you will make progress from tadpole to frog.

He goes on to explain how each taught him the importance of being amazed in the other, of being thankful, of not being self-absorbed, and of recognising that ‘self is simply too small to satisfy the exploding longings of the [my] heart.’

The tone of the letter suggests he’s writing to a young person familiar with church and Christianity, and I can’t help but wonder how he’d approach and make accessible a response to an unchurched young person.

In conclusion, Piper encourages the teen to come to terms with the reality that life change (sanctification) is an ongoing process to be embraced and enjoyed into eternity.

His response is thought provoking, affirming and creative, and would lose no power if it were to be called ‘A Letter to an Incomplete, Insecure You!’

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