My open letter to guys

This post is my open letter:

letter_writingTo the guy who is a few years removed from college, opening this email in his cube at work.

To the guy who saw this post on Facebook but chose not to like or comment, preferring to remain anonymous.

To the guy who is curious why I am still blogging and how I still feel like life is worth living.

To the guy who has been uncomfortable to talk to me because he doesn’t know what to make of me: immobile, living with my parents, and not exactly on the same life trajectory as most guys our age.

To the guys who have shed tears in my room, shaking their heads, distraught, as if I was terminally ill.

Anonymous guy in his 20s, I’m talking to you.

There’s something I want you to know.

I’m okay.

Really. I’m okay.

From what a few guys have shared with me, I know many are wondering, “Why does Ryan seem to have joy? Why does Ryan still put in the effort to get out of bed in the morning? What does Ryan even have to live for?”

You want me to be honest? For a period, I envied you moving on into the life I had planned out for myself. There was a time I felt resentment and bewilderment over what made you more deserving of moving on with life than me. Then a phase of spiritual pride set in, leading me to think that by missing out on all of that and enduring hardship I was somehow more holy or special than you.

All three stances were downright wrong.

Thankfully, I soon realized the void that existed. The void that cannot be filled with the path to success or even fully functioning arms and legs.

Jesus tells a story about a man who finds a treasure hidden in a field. When he finds it, he hides it again, and then excitedly returns home to sell everything he has and purchase the field. No one else seems to realize what this guy sees in this field. But the man is willing to give up everything to encounter the treasure within.


I often feel like that man when I see the look of gloom and doom emanating from a fellow man’s face as he ponders my circumstances.

I just want to emphatically declare how rewarding the things I’ve gotten to experience have been. I wish you could know what I was feeling. I wish you could feel the deep humbling satisfaction I get when I think about the small role I’ve been given in God’s redemptive plan.

Not being on the same life trajectory as other guys my age may seem disappointing on the surface. However, a padded bank account, a brand-new car, and that ripped CrossFit body are not going to last in the long run. They’re not going to be there to save you when you get that phone call diagnosis or your heart ripped out or your dream shattered.

On Thanksgiving Day 2009, 35-year-old Matt Chandler collapsed to the ground with a tremendous seizure. On Monday it was revealed that he would need a tumor carved out of his brain by the end of the week. With no chance to reach his church before the following Sunday, he recorded this quick YouTube video to update those he loved in the midst of the most tension filled week of his life:

I want my attitude to be like that.

I can learn much from this example of trusting God in difficult circumstances and realizing he is enough.

Jesus is enough, and I’m saying that now.

Five years without the physical miraculous breakthrough I’ve been waiting for.

No medical cure on the horizon while battling constant discomfort and sleepless nights.

Not only is he enough, but if this is what it takes for my eyes to be opened and to profoundly encounter the person of Jesus as a result, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So you guys don’t have to feel sorry for me. You’re off the hook for feeling like you need to walk on eggshells around me. In the midst of the most difficult season of my life, I have found true joy, hope, and fulfillment in a place I may never have looked otherwise.

If that sounds crazy to you, I urge you to contemplate what your hope is in.

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11 thoughts on “My open letter to guys

  1. Dear Ryan:

    I know this was an open letter to the men, but this woman read with great interest.

    Never (ever, ever) have I felt pity for you.

    Always I have felt courage for your strength.

    “My strength is made greater in your weakness.”

    Your life exemplifies what this is all about.

    Merry Christmas, Wonderful Ryan Atkins.




    • I concur with everything that LisaMarie has said. 🙂

      side note: last night I watched every one of the video updates from Matt Chandler. it was good. it was Christmas Day and I caught a bug that caused me to be SO tired I slept all day, except while watching Matt. It was a good way to spend the little time I had where I was awake on Christmas. Jesus IS enough. He is where my hope is, for sure.

  2. Awesome message Ryan. This life leaves us hungry and thirsty and we are in constant pursuit of satisfying it…yet, the world continues to leave us hungry and thirsty. Keep pushing forward and may the Lord Jesus be glorified!

  3. This one rings some bells…a lot of bells….some bells that I’m embarrassed to admit I can relate to.

    How comforting it is that God can and does fill us up in places nothing else can, often times in places we didn’t even realize existed. Of course, that is if we let Him, and that can be where the challenge really hits in.

    Thanks for some really good reminders.

  4. What a wonderful message for Christmas, I am forwarding this on to my son, Joe Neyer, who has had a Goblastioma ( probably misspelled ) and has been living on death’s for over 25 months but still has a Positive Mental Attitude

  5. I wish I could convince those who do have the world by the tail how fleeting and futile that is. We know Solomon tried. Great perspective.

  6. I am truly humbled and inspired, dear Ryan! God is using you in a mighty way to touch the lives of so many others. Hope you and your family have a beautiful Christmas!!

  7. Thank you, Ryan for sharing your journey with all of us. You have a unique platform, in that when you say Jesus is enough, you are in a position of experience to blast every lie of satan that says he isn’t. You are in a place where you, by no choice of your own, are able to “test” the promise that He IS enough….that His grace IS sufficient….and in the midst of your circumstance, you are shouting, “YES. HE IS!” Thank your for sharing truth, from a unique perspective that gives added strength, authority and veracity to your words.
    Bless you bro. I love and appreciate you.

    P.s. a short vid you might like is Francis Chan “The Rope Illustration”
    It gives a really good visual illustration re: perspective on our lives (of which your blog also intimates)
    You are using your life well & wisely. You are such a faithful steward with what you have been given. Many will live their whole lives, and not poured out as much love, instruction, encouragement, wisdom than you have in these few short years that you have been blogging. I know you are pouring into youth, speaking to groups, as God gives opportunity. When you meet Christ, you will hear WELL DONE good and faithful one. You have been SO very faithful with the life and talents entrusted to you. When you meet Him face to face, will have NO regrets….

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