PUBLISHED: June 23, 2022

Dear 21 year old Trey,

Hey man, I hope you’re having a great day. I want to get straight to the point (Lesson learned a little bit further down the road we call life…don’t waste time on pleasantries, folks can see right through them.)

I want to let you know a few things, more “lessons learned” I guess you could say. I want to both put your restless mind at ease and give you one piece of advice that very well may just save your life.
First things first, let’s talk a little bit about some facts of who you are…

  • You care…a lot.
  • You empathize…a lot.
  • You're the caregiver.
  • Your friendships are going to be deep.
  • You’re loyal…sometimes to a fault.
  • You feel…and feel…and feel…and feel some more.
  • People will describe you as passionate, energetic, and not afraid of a challenge. The words “don’t tempt me with a good time” will be your mantra when faced with a need that seems like it doesn’t have a solution.
  • If you were to take an Enneagram test right now, it would almost be a tie between a #2 and a #7.
  • You want to help people (hence the Enneagram #2 thing)
  • And you’ll charge Hell with a water pistol to do it (there’s the #7 thing)
  • The more the merrier. If you can help 2...why not 10? 10…why not 40? 40…why not 100? 100…why not 1000? Yes, it really does escalate quickly.
  • You absolutely thrive in situations where others are hurting.
  • You sit with people who want to end it all, and you will many more times, and you help them fight for a tomorrow that they can’t see. You fight to make sure that you do see them tomorrow!
Those are all good things. They are core to you as a person, the way God Himself designed you. But…and that’s a big BUT…this is where it gets a little…let’s say…dicey. And let me remind you…I’m writing this cause I get it…

  • You will care when other’s won’t seem to.
  • You will struggle big time with being able to say “no.”
  • You’re going to find yourself struggling with what people think of you.
  • You won’t turn your phone on silent cause you might miss a call from someone who needs you.
  • You’re going to be around a lot of hurting people.
  • You’re going to hear (and be completely okay with) some of the heaviest burdens your friends face.
  • You will fight to the death for someone or something you care about, BUT there is a flip side to that coin…and it’s totally neglecting yourself as you fight for others.
  • That neglect, coupled with some of the hurts you’re going to face in a few years that are outside of your control, will go unchecked…
  • You’re going to slap on a smile cause you think that’s what’s expected of you. You will feel like you can’t help others if they see you’re hurting.
  • You’re going to carry those above mentioned burdens…and they won’t seem heavy…at first.
  • You’ll slip up, the mask of a fake smile will fall off, and in anger, you’ll make an absolute ass of yourself. Then you’ll feel the shame and the guilt, and the confusion, cause that isn’t who you want to be. (Oh, you’ll do this a few times)
  • You, believe it or not, as the happy-go-lucky, head up in the clouds dreamer that you are, might just find yourself in the deepest depths of depression, looking down the barrel of your shotgun.
I don’t say any of this to discourage you, make you wish you were different, or make you fear your future. I know you struggle to picture much of the “dicey” part I mentioned above. Your personality easily dismisses that with a nonchalant “nah, that’s not me…I can handle it. Bring on the hurting and broken.”

I tell you this because I want to help you understand something that I began realizing right as I was looking down the barrel of that shotgun. And yes, I know, some of this is cliche, but just go with me. If nothing else, tuck these words away in your heart and mind so that when you find yourself going down this road, your brain will fire them back at you…

  • You, my friend, can not effectively help others unless you are helped.

  • You’re not responsible for saving people or fixing people. Your job is to love them and lead them.

  • Acknowledge the weight you carry, do not ignore it or dismiss it.
    • Insert cliche quote here - “Just cause you carry it well, doesn’t mean it isn’t heavy.”

  • Talk to someone. Talk to someone. Talk to someone. Not about them, but about you. Be HONEST, be VULNERABLE.
    • Just like you can’t help folks when they don’t tell you everything…they can’t help you if you don’t get down to the deep, messy, ugly stuff.
    • Jesus Himself had people around Him who he got honest with.
    • And yes, Trey, you’re a person of faith, and you do talk to Jesus, but remember this, too…Jesus, in all of his wisdom, puts people around us, not just for surface level friendships, but for the deep intimacy that comes from complete transparency, honesty, and trust.

  • Just cause you get help doesn’t mean you're disqualified from your job.
    • Here’s the proof: In your early 30s, when you found yourself suicidal, you were actually working for a church taking care of folks…and today, years later, you’re running a non-profit and still heavily involved in church...both giving you the opportunity to take care of folks. Getting help will actually put you on the right path. Oh, and if it getting help does somehow cause issues at work, or anywhere else for that matter, run as fast as you can from that job and those people, cause you don’t want to be around folks who punish people for getting help.

  • Need meds to help? Cool. Take them. Be open with your doctor about it and follow their lead. Don’t be embarrassed. In the not so distant future, you will realize that Cymbalta for depression and Vyvanse for ADHD both help a lot.

  • Did I mention talk to someone?
    • Be open with Tiffany (yeah, the Tiffany you’ve known your entire life…spoiler alert…you’re going to marry her when you’re 26.)
    • Find a counselor (invest financially in your mental health, just as you would your physical health.)
    • Put down the tailgate, sit down and have a conversation with a friend.
    • Oh, and don’t neglect those you have helped, cause they will be some of the ones who help you the most.

  • Invest in non-judgmental friendships that value you and value honesty. (Just like you will be hurt if a friend carries a hurt alone, your friends feel the same way.)

  • And last but not least, some of the most effective moments of helping others will come from you telling them your own story of how you went through something hard and got the help you deserved…
Again, this is not to make you feel like the path forward is going to be hard. I’m not going to BS you on that one, it’s going to be harder than your naive little brain can imagine, BUT you aren’t Superman, you’re Trey McGuire. You’re on this planet for a reason. I hope that a few of these lesson’s I have learned (and still am learning) will help you realize that you have permission to fight for yourself…cause when you do, you’re actually making a protected, guarded way for all of that purpose you feel inside of you to get out there and do some good. It won’t stop the heaviness from coming, not at all, but it will make sure the weight is distributed healthily. And, just like you want to see your friends and those you love tomorrow and the next day and the day after that, it will help ensure that YOU yourself actually can say with 100% confidence “See you tomorrow!”

So, I’ll leave you with a quote. Marcus Aurelius said it best…“Don't be ashamed of needing help. You have a duty to fulfill just like a soldier on the wall of battle. So what if you are injured and can't climb up without another soldier's help?"

See you tomorrow!
-39 year old Trey