If you are a 20 or 30-something, read this. Please. Part Two.

Like I said yesterday, this is a personal message to young adults…both singles and couples.

Over the last two decades, I’ve seen changes in the part of life (young adulthood) I hold closest to my heart.  We were both barely 21 in our first year of marriage.  This summer will mark 36 years since Wanda and I made the promise to spend our lives together.  We moved away from the motherland sixteen years ago, so most of the changes I have witnessed have happened here in the Great State, but I suspect they may exist outside of the frontier, also.

(Warning. Beware of “over-personalizing” every observation I make.  Some of them may nail you right between the eyes…others may miss the target altogether.  When shoes fit, put them on.  When they don’t, put them back on the shelf.  I am a master of the mixed metaphor…)

I look at what’s going on today, and I see something totally different than how Wanda and I lived in our 20’s and 30’s.  I see culture exerting its will over the hearts and schedules of young adults in ways that were completely foreign to us.  I see young adults growing more and more inward and protective of their time and money and possessions and children.

Rather than “choosing” a lifestyle, I listen to story after story of people who feel their lifestyles are being dictated by demanding jobs and incomes that are being stretched so thin they are ready to explode.

Here is my ultimate commentary of life today: People will work hard…get up early…stay late…and put up with high demands and uncomfortable situations…as long as it nets a paycheck or directly benefits their home/family in some way. But people simply don’t want to be pushed outside their comfort zones in their “negotiable” time…what little they have of it.

Because well-paying jobs are harder to come by, young adults are willing to be miserable in order to keep those jobs.  I hear fewer and fewer stories of idealism and dreaming and living by faith…and see more and more looks of emptiness, frustration and “shoulder shrugging” resignment.  My heart goes out to so many young adults these days that see a richer and deeper life, but it sits outside their grasp.

Our houses have become sanctuaries for personal retreat and insulation from the nasty, demanding world outside our doors.  Home improvement has little or nothing to do with the quality of relationships that are built inside our walls…but about the next new thing we can add to make our behind-closed-doors experience a better one.

On the positive side, I see more young parents taking their roles of protector-provider very serious.  But I also see parents who are bowing at the altar of family worship. That’s when life is allowed to revolve around the kids…when parents sacrifice everything for their own kid’s personality development… happiness…education…experience… schedule…to the exclusion of community life outside the family walls.

More than anything, I see young adults who have lost sight of bigger pictures. The need for a greater community experience…the command for genuine, selfless service to others for free…the cry for deep, transparent, challenging friendships…the profound value of a village for our children to grow up in…these seem to be pearls that are losing their worth.  Quickly.

Hey, it’s easy to throw stones.  It’s a lot harder to provide light for the journey.  There are no easy, quick fixes.  Life seems to be a lot more complicated for you guys, than it was for me when I was your age.  But if you hunger for more. If there is something inside you that says there is a more meaningful life out there to be had…here are a few suggestions for turning it around:

Find a person or a group of people that needs what you have to offer…your talents…your gifts… your passion…your love…your service…and make a commitment to those people. Make it so they depend on you.  Make it so that if you don’t do your part, those people lose.  Make it so that breaking your commitment is simply not an option. I didn’t say it would be easy.  But you can do it.

Find a group of like-minded, like-hearted young adults and begin meeting with them regularly.  Find an existing group.  Start your own group.  Meet about something that interests you.  Read a book.  Study a topic.  Go out to eat.  Play on a team.  Share a hobby.  Meet a need.  Just do it together with some people.  Regularly. I think you will be blown away by the change that happens in your heart.   And you may even find the stress in your schedule is much easier to manage. I still believe in a God that changes people.

Practice saying “no” to yourself and your family.  Everybody will be much better for the experience.

Make the time to really determine if you want to live a life of selflessness…a life of community…a life of transparency…a life larger than your personal family unit.  Some people don’t want it. Some people are quite content with being the center of their own world.  So be it.

But if you sense a calling to walk in hallowed footsteps…if the size of your world is shrinking…if you don’t want your children to grow up like you…then you have to step boldly. Is the life you are living really the life you were meant to live?

I’ll close with a quote from one of my all-time favorite books, We Really Do Need One Another by Reuben Welch:

You know, we want to save ourselves and hold ourselves back as though the highest goal in life would be to look good in our caskets.  It’s no special blessing to come to the end of life with love unshared,  selves ungiven,  activities unactivated,  deeds undone,  emotions unextended.  It’s not an encouraging thought,  especially at my age in life—but I have the feeling that when a person is middle-aged,  he ought to be about half used up.  And when I read this passage,  I keep asking myself what I’m saving myself for?  Isn’t it God’s intention that when we come to the end of the line, we’re just about used up?

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5 thoughts on “If you are a 20 or 30-something, read this. Please. Part Two.

  1. I definitely fall into the camp of people that crave sanctuary at home after work and on the weekends. I didn’t used to be this way, but it’s like getting a “big boy” job and a house flipped some switch in me somewhere that makes me less inclined to seek people out. It sucks.

    I can tell you that there are times where we have been asked to do stuff out of our comfort zones as far as using up our precious free time is concerned. We usually boohoo about it, but end up doing it because we’d rather not deal with the guilt. The crazy thing is, though, that 9 times out of 10 we end up being extremely happy that we gave up our time to do so.

    Good posts. Thanks for the perspective.

  2. Excellent post. As an old fart in his mid 40’s, I can look back and say with great confidence I never have regreted spending time or resources on others. The most difficult part of the journey stated above is it has to be chosen. The most amazing part of the journey stated above is that you become your true self. The one God created.

  3. Love it mike! Thank you so much for sharing. I have been at north point 5 years and it’s crazy how groups of people change as we grow older we hang out with different crowds. Which is ok since you’re at a diff place in your life but we have to make sure that we keep hanging out!

  4. Makes you think the social networks there out there have created this. Instead of going face-to-face or meeting up, you can follow me on Twitter or like me on Facebook and find out what I’m doing. Might be a good idea to turn off all the devices and actually interact/share with other people live and in person.
    Keep the posts coming Mike, this creates discussion and hopefully action…

  5. I always have to be pushed into giving up my free time…and I’m usually glad I did.

    I wonder if 10+ years of killer schedules has ruined me. I was thinking last night…probably looking for a good excuse for my feelings and actions…about the years of hard core classes, homework, projects, practices, rehearsals, etc. that I both pushed through and embraced – even looked for – from the time I was 13 or 14 and on through college and beyond.

    When my mom was a kid, she came home from school and played outside with the neighborhood kids. When I was a kid, I didn’t come home from school/activities until it was time to go to bed.

    I admit, part of that was calculated.

    I have always thought I got an excellent education and had many valuable experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I still think that. But I wonder if one of the costs is that it bred in me a desire for sanctuary, because for years and years there was none.

    And it wasn’t just limited to school…it was family, and other soul sucking relationships that eventually (or immediately) took their toll. Or the intense pressure of realizing that if I can’t figure out how to pay my bills…there is no one to pick me up. It’s me, or nobody.

    I really want a little hole where I can hide and nurse my damaged little body and protect myself from people and things tearing at me anymore, or ever again.

    Now, I know God has saved me for just this purpose…to hide alone for all eternity.

    NOT.

    But how do I reconcile how I feel, to what I know I’m supposed to do? Scheduling asside?

    There you go, Mike. A post. 🙂

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