be that guy

Please excuse this more personal post. Again.

I had decided earlier this year to write a letter to each member of my family on their birthday, and well, Sunday was my birthday and I planned to write a letter to myself. I can’t help it if my new granddaughter was born Saturday.

I’ve written already this year about my wife and my oldest son. But I think we can get all the way to May before you have to/get to read one of these again. Friday I will return to our regularly scheduled programming. Whatever that is.


Photo by Michael J Metts
Note to self—

58 years, huh? There is so much still to do. So make a list.

Yes, I know you want to write a sonnet using only words derived from Anglo-Saxon, but there are five grandkids now and seven sons and daughters, both your own and the ones they married.

This may require a minivan, since none of them live nearby. Sure, you’ve wanted the jeep wrangler for a long time. But how many will it carry? And the sonnet’s great, but write a book for crying out loud. The money is better.

You want to take your wife to Florence (Italy, not Kentucky) and maybe to a tea garden in India. You certainly want to have tea with her. A lot. Sit on the porch together in the morning with a good book and a cup of tea. Cherish every moment with her.

And slow down so you can make time for others, especially young men who are trying to figure things out. Remember when your Dad died and you had no one to call? Now you are that guy.

This includes your sons and son-in-law first of all. But at the college and the church there are young men in need of mentoring. Listen to them. Ask questions. Don’t talk so much.

As the apostle James said, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Teach that. Show them how.

Seriously, you don’t know many young men who can do that. Older men either. Quite frankly you aren’t so good at it yourself, but you seem to be figuring it out. It’s not about you, after all. That much is clear.

So read more. Study more. Memorize more. Then, when they ask, you will have something worthwhile to say. You still have much to learn.

And lay off the carbs and exercise more. You don’t show your love to those who love you if you don’t take care of yourself. Try to die healthy. And to die well.

Learn to be more generous and more grateful. When you get to the end, people shouldn’t be tired of you, mad at you, burdened by you or embarrassed by you. Go back to Psalm 112 again and again.

Be that guy too, the gracious, merciful, righteous, fearless, steady guy who fears the Lord and delights in his commands.

You are not too old to learn.

In fact, you may finally be ready.



P.S. Oscar Wilde said, “Life has been your art. You have set yourself to music. Your days are your sonnets.”

Just think about it.

18 thoughts on “be that guy”

  1. Happy Birthday and thank you for sharing this letter! I stumbled upon your blog last summer when my son was searching for a church while attending Hillsdale College. I added it to my google reader and have been blessed and encouraged by your writings many times. I appreciate your heart for young people!

  2. Happy birthday and may you have a greater year ^_^!
    You know, it is strange, today when I was in campus, suddenly this question popped up in my mind: If I had only 6 months left to live, what would I spent it with? What would I do?

  3. Oh, and by the way, it is my birthday today (March 3rd). Why am I saying this? Who am I?
    Just a little girl–who was inspired by your writing–passing by.

  4. Happiest of Birthdays, Dr. Metts!!! You’ve got me thinking about crafting a “be that gal” version of “note-to-self” when I too hit the big 5-8 in a few months. 🙂

    Keep up the great writing . . . I’ve especially appreciated the statistics & links in your recent “Men Will Be Boys” post. I just referenced you, and linked to that post in my latest blog about a related topic. I hope you’ll at least look at the title . . . a tongue-in-cheek nod to my SAU MCOM degree 🙂


  5. Happy Birthday to you. I, too, write letters to my kids on their birthday. They are 5, so I am just beginning this journey of being a father. Wally, you are a wise man and I am inspired by you. Both as a Father and a new blogger.

    Peace to you.

  6. Happy Birthday Wally. I love these birthday letters, especially the idea of remembering your own birthday and with a moment of introspection. I think you should do all these things…and especially write a book. Those of us lucky enough to be mentored by you should not be the only ones to be inspired, challenged and changed by your writing. You have given so much to others, carve out some time for yourself to accomplish this long-standing goal so that others may reap the deep benefits. And then celebrate with Katie on a trip to Florence! Go…be that guy!

  7. I love everything you write. My dad died Saturday and we buried him Wednesday. My heart is so tender right now. Thank you for your words. Although I don’t know you, I can tell you are a great man.

    1. Angel, I’m so sorry for your loss. Your efforts to get this experience down on your blog are important. For you and for us. Keep writing. And keep believing too. The Lord’s mercies are new every morning.

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