I didn’t know you, but you were brilliant. You would always run over time on stage because you had another story to tell or another point to elaborate on. I loved that. You spoke to the people who were attacking your beliefs so kindly and patiently and you always seemed to listen to them so intently. You really seemed to care. Your arguments were perfect and your resume was beyond impressive. The jokes, the stories, the wit, the skill, the family — it seemed like you had it all figured out. You were my hero.
I don’t know if you know this, but in 2020, all that COVID stuff got worse. I don’t know if you know this, but 2020 was filled with scandal. It was filled with abused power and misplaced priorities. I don’t know if you know this, but our “leaders” keep falling. At least we had you.
I don’t know if you know this, but all your secrets are coming out.
I wish you would have told us. Lies can’t be undone and the liar can’t be defended. But still, some people are trying to defend you. Do you believe it? I don’t know if you know this, but one of your biggest fears is being realized. Your legacy is changing. It’s shifting from care and love to perversion and manipulation. It’s devolving from truth teller to incessant liar. We see sickening self indulgence, and no longer a life of selfless service. But you were brilliant. How could you have been so stupid?
I hope you know that by digging the hole in hopes to bury these bones, you were publicly uncovering a trench full of skeletons. I hope you know that by trying to protect the people around you and your fans from the lies, you only lifted them higher to let them plummet to the ground with no hopes of flying. I hope you know that by trying to relieve the stress, you crushed the souls of the women you abused. I know the truth you spoke is separate from the lies that you told, but I hope you know that many people can’t tell the difference. I’ll bet you were scared that the truth that you spoke from the stages would be disregarded if people found out the lies. I hope you know that by many, that truth is being disregarded. I hope you know that your biggest fear of people finding out the truth and then questioning the God you proclaimed is now coming to pass. I hope you know you just gave my dad one more reason not to believe.
You know, you once said, “Yes, if truth is not undergirded by love, it makes the possessor of that truth obnoxious and the truth repulsive.” I hope you know for many it’s hard to now see the love in your work, and I hope you know that statement was true.
You had plenty of reasons. You had plenty of arguments. You had plenty of stories. You had plenty of fans. And you had plenty of time to tell the truth. You had plenty of truth in your words and that’s why the lies stung the way they did. I wonder now, what would you have done differently?
Would you have spent more time on the couch with your kids instead of hiding in airplanes and hotel rooms? Would you have set a limit on the speaking engagements and the travel in order to restore your soul and come back to God? In the end, was it the mission or the adoration that drove you? Would you have put different people around you? Would you have just told us? Would you have spent more time with pen and paper and less time under the spotlight? Would you have brought your wife with you? Would you have skipped the massages all together? Would you have been a little less concerned with your own passing desires and more concerned with the implications of your neglect? I’m sure now it’s easier to see it all clearly.
I remember one time, it almost seemed like bragging, you spoke of spending somewhere around 300 days on the road that year. What about your family? How could someone keep that up? “You’re speaking how many times a day?!”
You were brilliant, but even I can see that was stupid. Did no one tell you? Why not? Did you create an environment around you of people who were scared to check you? Did they just tell you what you wanted to hear? Or did they try to tell you and you just didn’t listen?
Who in the hell told you it was a good idea to invest in a spa?
I would imagine the lies made it all worse because you started to believe them yourself. I’ll bet it started out one time as a “happy ending” that no one needed to know about. I’ll bet you didn’t tell anyone. I’ll bet it got worse from there.
I would imagine that you started to believe that the suppressed truth of the abuse of these few women was better than a whole world uncovering the insecure little boy that couldn’t seem to keep his hands to himself. Do you believe that now? I’ll bet you wish you could take that back. You were brilliant, but your math was wrong. I don’t believe you started out in defending the Faith with the intention of manipulation. But I’ll bet you started to believe you were God’s gift to the world. I would imagine that you started to believe you deserved it. If you were still here, I would love to know how it all happened so I could take notes and take guard. But since you’re not, I guess I’ll never know the truth. I guess all I’ll ever have is evidence and my own assumptions.
I mistook your ability to speak for wisdom and your knowledge for self-control. Later in life you always bragged about yourself and your schedule at the beginning of your messages, but I thought maybe that was normal. That should have been a sign. Hindsight is a funny thing.
The good news is, you taught us. You taught us what not to do. You gave us another example of the need to put the right boundaries in place. You gave us one more reason to rely more on our time alone with God than our time in flow-state on a stage. You taught us not to believe the pedestal that everyone else puts us on. You taught us that the skills to speak and persuade don’t assume integrity and that a busy schedule doesn’t always line up with service to God. You taught us that hidden truth does far more damage than uncomfortable honesty ever can. And through all the lies, you gifted us with the truth that our own brilliance will never be enough.
I don’t think you were a monster. I think you were scared. I don’t think you were evil. I think you were fooled. I don’t think this was your plan all along. I think you let yourself get blinded and you tragically fell into the plans of another. I think you believed what you told us from the stages, which is why I think you must have been so broken on the inside. I’ll bet the truth coming out would have hurt less than the truth that never did.
I hope the people who loved you can see that what you did doesn’t represent who God is. I hope they don’t think they have to fall in to the same trap that you did. I hope they lean in, not out. I hope your wife and your children can rest well and find some peace — I hope they didn’t know. I hope the ones who were hurt by what you did don’t mistake your actions for God’s character. I hope the people that loved you can still love you. I hope one day to see you again.
Thank you for the work you did. Thank you for the lessons you taught. I’m sorry that it didn’t work out the way you thought it would when you were younger. I’m sorry for what you became in the end. Ravi, I didn’t know you, but now my question is, did anyone?
You were brilliant. I wish you wouldn’t have been so stupid.