dear Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I finished reading Bonhoeffer in 2013, when I was still thirteen.

Today I talked to the author, Eric Metaxas, on the phone. He has a talk show (about literally everything) and was giving away free mugs. A lover of all-things coffee and loving all of Eric’s work, I reluctantly called because of my phone anxiety — but I couldn’t resist due to Eric’s prompting in our Twitter conversation. We talked for maybe sixty seconds and I thanked him for writing the books that I have read from him.

In light of this event, I began to reminisce about first reading Bonhoeffer, and the impact it has had on my spiritual growth. If you’ve been reading any of my words for any length of time, you have found that I love Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the legacy he left, and the written works he left behind. You may have at some point wondered why I was so fascinated by him and why his name continually reoccurs. This biography of him not only helped me grow spiritually in and of itself, but it also introduced me to who Bonhoeffer was — which led me to the written works I mentioned above, that I have begun to study and will continue to read.

Bottom line: the book’s impact on my life is immeasurable. That’s what I was trying to say to Eric on the phone today, when my voice was quivering because I was so stunned that I was speaking to my favorite author and I could barely remember my last name when he asked me what it was.

When I finished his biography on Bonhoeffer back in ’13, I wrote a letter to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as if he could read it.

I’m reposting it and remembering it today.

Dear Dietrich Bonhoeffer,

You lived and died many years ago. In fact, right now in 2013, you have been gone for sixty-eight years. I am very confident in the fact that you are now alive more than you ever were. You have written many books and many books have been written about you. I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised, but there is much controversy about you and your involvement in the unsuccessful conspiracy over killing Hitler. Although, most people know very little about you and, like most things, they judge all too quickly. I first saw your book at the bedside of the parents of some of the children I was watching. I read only the few words describing you being, “ Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.” To add to the excitement and intrigue that those words instilled into me, this book is thick. It is over five hundred pages. Before long, I purchased this book written by Eric Metaxas a few days after Christmas with a gift card to the Christian bookstore. I started reading this book simply titled with your last name in a grocery store parking lot and just most recently finished it on my front porch, eleven months later.

I loved this book through and through, but I vividly remember reading about your childhood. I peaked inside the windows in your large home to watch your Mother lead you and your siblings to the Lord and your Father supporting her; never leaving her side. When you were only thirteen, you knew that you wanted to be a theologian. The day I read that chapter, I was that very same age. That made me smile. From the very beginning you didn’t mind that you were different from what everyone else’s expectations for you were. You were more concerned about what the Lord saw in your heart and your life than what the people around you thought looking from the outside. I don’t know if I totally agree with everything you said. How can one completely agree with another, anyway? I believe, however, that you followed long and hard after the Lord in all circumstances. This is one of the many impressions about you that will continue to stagger into the pages of my own life, I hope and pray.

Your book, or rather this book about you, became my security blanket. It is bittersweet that I have finished it although I am thrilled I finally did. It is bittersweet because I took ‘you’ everywhere. I took you to my Grandpa’s radiation appointments {he is now in heaven, close to you}, I took you on a million road trips, I took you to camp, and I took you along in my purse even if I knew I would never get the chance that day to open those pages. Your words continue to linger in my mind weeks after I have finished this book. In fact, I cannot wait to read this book again. Your words were rich. I got lost in how people rightfully so admired you and what they wrote to you or about you. Your perspective, I have found, lines up with mine as well. In the areas that we didn’t line up, I was comforted simply by the fact that even among your ‘Christian’ acquaintances, you were willing to stand up for what you saw to be true and righteous. You loved people and you ministered effectively. You weren’t worried about either Protestantism or Catholicism. You were concerned about being biblical and godly. You fell in love with Maria and loved her to the best of your ability until your dying day. The day they came to arrest you, the day they came to take you to your death, you went willingly and joyfully. Thank-you for teaching all of us, especially me, so many life lessons. I may not remember all the words you said, but I will remember how you inspired me. How you will continue to inspire me. Countless time in this past year when life was hard and lonely, I came to Jesus in prayer and my Bonhoeffer book. You encouraged me to spend more time in the Word and more time on my knees. Even though your companionship came to me only through paper and ink, in some sense, you became a good friend to me from page to page, chapter to chapter. Peace was dared, encounters were pondered, costly grace was chewed on, and love letters were exchanged. Dietrich, I believe I will meet you in heaven someday and I am indeed excited about praising the Lord beside you and the rest of His kingdom. In the meantime, I look forward to meeting you in pages of some of your own books as soon as I can get my hands on them. Until that someday comes when I meet my Jesus face to face, I am excited to live obedient in my walk with Christ and learning to do life together until my
prologue is over.

[You can find the original blog post here: Dear Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer made his way into 1999’s about page and also my little bio here: beinvenidos and emilee kaye.

You can find a book review on two of Bonhoeffer’s books, The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together, here at The RisingDigging Deep Into My Favorite Reads // Part Two

You can find my review of Metaxas’ book over here also at The RisingDigging Deep Into My Favorite Reads // Part Three]

Want to read more from Bonhoeffer? Read Metaxas’ book! Then read one from Bonhoeffer himself, and keep reading 1999 – there will always be quotes around the corner!


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