This is a personal message to young adults…both singles and couples. It will come in two parts. These two posts may be the most important thing I have ever written. It weighs on my heart pretty heavy. It’s not about judging…or inducing guilt…but simply to get you to think (or even talk) about the patterns you are building in your young lives…
When Wanda and I were just a young couple in our 20’s and early 30’s, we lived in the rapidly growing, economically robust culture of 1975-1990 Southern California. It was massive… full of upwardly mobile twenty and thirty-somethings. It was the center of pop culture shifts for the nation…and driven by the pursuit of expansion and social status. It was our home.
As a young couple, we rejected status seeking and financial security, neither of which was consistent with our own upbringing. Instead, we dove into friendships. We fully invested in relationships and ministry. Our marriage was shaped by seeing it (our marriage) as serving a greater good.
Marriage wasn’t simply for our own enjoyment, but the depth and character of our marriage was defined by sharing it with others.
Don’t misunderstand…we loved our time alone. Date nights. Weekends away. Vacations with just the two of us…35 days of backpacking or camping alone one summer! But being alone was not the majority of our time.
We had deep, meaningful relationships with dozens of people and healthy, regular friendships with dozens more. People we served. People who invested in us. We were always involved with small groups of students in weekly discipleship groups…and other youth workers that we not only shared ministry, but life, with.
We were close enough with other couples to learn from their mistakes and receive their teaching and accountability. At any point in time during these years, we were involved in open and transparent friendships with 25-30, or sometimes more, other people (singles and couples) at the same time. For their good…as well as for ours.
These were people who worked full-time jobs…owned homes…had children… had extended families…went to school…mowed their own lawns…managed households… and had personal goals and dreams. But we all, somehow, made time for things that were ultimately more important.
We found our greatest joy and greatest challenges in these friendships. They were demanding. They were fun. They were complicated. They took time. We loved doing things together.
We learned to view our time as not our own, but belonging to God…and we were simply stewards of it. Just like our money or our possessions. We helped each other when houses needed to be fixed or cars worked on. We ate together all the time.
We played tons of sports with each other. Volleyball in the park or on the sand at the beach happened all the time. I played softball one night a week for nearly twenty straight years…and that always included going out for pizza afterward. Weeknight or weekend leagues…it didn’t matter.
Being with friends fueled our lives…broadened our perspectives…taught us what was really important. And there was always room for new people.
And it didn’t change once we had children. It defined our family life and gave our boys the greatest life experiences they could have ever had…and helped shape their character and values.
From the moment our kids were born, they went with us. We lived our life and fit them in. I think we knew, instinctively, that there would come a time that their lives and schedules would take precedence over ours, so it was important…super important…that we create a lifestyle of total flexibility and people investment while they were babies and pre-schoolers, that would carry over into our family life once they started going to school.
We packed light…and traveled lighter. We bathed them in ice chests in Mexico. They got held by hundreds of kids when they were babies. The whole youth group babysat them. They learned to eat whatever everybody else was eating. They seldom had a set bedtime.
People were constantly in our house. Or we were going over to someone else’s house. People got to know us and our boys. We still have loads of people from those years who ask us about Chris and Corey.
Our boys were always with other people. I am convinced that the primary reason both of them have always functioned well with adults, is because they lived their lives out around people who were older than they were. It was in the midst of all these deep friendships that they learned the value of conversation.
This lifestyle was our choice. I’m not saying it wasn’t complicated and demanding, but we are deeper and better people because of it. Giving ourselves away to others for the good of the Kingdom became second nature for us. It was not only what we did…but who we became.
But something has happened over the years. It’s all different now.
Stay tuned for Part Two. Pay careful attention. It’s not pretty.