Letter to My Son Abraham
Abraham, my eldest, my firstborn, the one who taught me that I have enough goodness in me to help produce life.
I love you.
I want you to know that—and I want to live my life in a way that you have no question that this is true—that I will do everything in my feeble, human frailty to show that I love you and that there is nothing you can do that would make my love falter.
But this is not my highest aspiration for you.
I most desperately want you to love yourself.
Now, this may come across as self-help bullshit that’s so common, and perhaps has always been common. The kind of thinking that says that all you need to do is accept yourself as you currently are, and that this is the end of one’s journey. In my experience, this is necessary, but it is only a beginning. A beginning of a much longer, all-consuming, all-important quest to love yourself. Because a part of loving yourself is recognizing and accepting that you are broken.
I’m sorry that this is true. In a way you don’t deserve your brokenness. You didn’t choose to come into this world—you didn’t choose originally to make a claim on divinity and try to unseat God. Yet you find yourself here in the human condition as a broken person. Not only as a broken person, but living in a deeply broken world.
The good news is: this brokenness is deeply, fundamentally unnatural and irrational.
What I mean is—we, and all of creation, were not made broken. We know this deep down somewhere in our soul, our collective consciousness, our shared sense of the world. We know that we were made whole and good and pure and clean. Something in us longs for that and rejects the brokenness we experience internally and externally every day.
Tapping into this whole part of yourself is how you love yourself.
Tapping into this whole part of yourself is how you become more yourself.
Tapping into this whole part of yourself is how you become like God.
Only this time, we do not attempt to seize divinity unearned and undeserved, but we sink into the depths of our brokenness and find God there. And it is only through God that we can become ourselves, because it is only because of God that we exist. God made us to be in communion with Godself and with each other—with all of creation—and it is in God that we live and move and have our being. So, to love yourself you need to reach back into the depths of time immemorial and begin to undo the sin that brought us to where we are today.
The even better news is: this has already been done for you.
God, in God’s perfect love and justice, has taken our failure upon Godself. God took the death promised us, due to us, for our rebellion and let that evil exhaust itself upon God’s being. And the nothingness that is at the heart of evil could not consume the wholeness that is God. So we now are welcomed by the new Adam into a new creation, and into what we were always intended to be: whole. So you now can love yourself completely, knowing that the wholeness in you is divine—gifted by the all merciful God—and that your brokenness is merely an invitation to connect more deeply with God.
So, love yourself. Be fully human. Fall into the arms of your creator.
And know that your creator knows you fully, knows everything about you, and loves you completely and unconditionally.
I don’t know how to give you this knowledge, and I don’t know how to hold onto it myself, but my hope for you is that you will fall deeper and deeper in love with yourself, which is to say that you fall deeper and deeper in love with God and all of God’s creation.
David Justice is trying to figure out how to live well, and has his wife Mariah and two sons on that journey with him. He is currently working on his PhD in Christian Theology at Saint Louis University where he primarily studies liberation theology and Martin Luther King, Jr. He spends altogether too much time worrying about politics and will spend gratuitous sums of money on good coffee given the chance.