To be clear upfront, this isn’t one of those posts. The kind that derides Millennials and all their Millennial-ist ways. Nope, no digs on stocking caps worn year-round or the word “savage” being applied to nouns that have nothing to do with uncontrolled violence.
This is a post that looks the other direction, square at us “old people,” and challenges us to view Millennials in a different way.
Because we need to. Badly. In the worst way.
And I’ll start with me.
Over the past couple of years, I have been drawn to the 20-somethings, particularly post-college young women. Most of my ministry research has centered on this age group. The novel manuscripts I have written/am writing star women in their early 20s.
My husband likes to say I’m drawn to this life stage because it makes me feel young.
*Insert stink eye*
Nothing makes me feel my age more, actually. But hey, wrinkles and saggy eyelids are my new normal, and I embrace it. I’m not ashamed.
So what has drawn me to the Millennial/post-college crowd?
The short, pithy answer is, “The Holy Spirit.”
The longer, more insightful answer is this:
I distinctly remember what it was like to be a post-college young woman on her own for the first time, fully outside the influence of her parents’ home and bank account.
I remember the pressure I felt to prove myself worthy when the world seemed hellbent on proving me unworthy.
I graduated magna cum laude, but I had never felt more intellectually inadequate. I had a bazillion basic questions, such as, “How do I find a doctor?” and “What’s a deductible?”
I remember vividly the rejection from potential employers and the burning desire to have a “real” career that validated my college degree and lifted me beyond my dead-end, barely-pay-the-bills job.
I remember what it was like to feel helplessly relegated to the sidelines of the Big Game I had prepared for my entire life.
I can describe to you in great detail the utter loneliness that filled those years. My silent cries for help, attention, connection. Real connection.
I remember those years being the first time I began to grasp just how fully human and vulnerable I really was. I no longer felt invincible, and it scared the bejeezus out of me.
All I wanted was someone older and wiser — who was not my mom — to tell me I was okay. Someone who saw my obvious lacking but considered me worthy anyway. Someone would could describe the big picture to me when I was so clumsily lost in the weeds.
I wanted someone to speak directly to me and tell me that the Lord had a vision for my life, and even if I couldn’t see it beyond my circumstances, He would be faithful to bring it to fruition.
I wanted — in a hungry, ravenous way — someone to mentor me.
I wanted someone to hug me.
Which I know sounds supremely ridiculous, but think about it. Hugging, in the view of world history, is the universal language of real human connection. It reaches across gender, racial, cultural or generational lines.
To give someone a hug is to affirm their value. I needed that.
I was an adult legally speaking, but in many ways, I was still a kid. I had a lot of maturing to do, just like anyone in the first labor pains of adulthood.
But the last thing I needed was to be derided for my choice of accessories or vernacular or tech habits or any other superficial characteristic.
I needed someone to look behind the facade and see me — the scared, intelligent, hungry young woman. I needed someone older to take a step of faith to connect with me. To invest in me.
Which brings me to today.
Here I am. I am that older, (arguably) wiser woman.
And I see my younger sisters in the same place I was. I can see their hunger and hear their heart pangs.
I also see a world way, way, way to eager to “put them in their place” and give them endless grief about their selfishness and immaturity instead of offering them an investment of time and compassionate teaching.
I’m going to do something that also scares the bejeezus out of me.
I am going to take a step of faith and reach out to these younger sisters and offer what I can.
To be honest, I feel completely inadequate and underqualified by pretty much every standard to take on such a ministry. I fear getting laughed at or flat-out rejected or, worse, FAILING MISERABLY.
Regardless, I’m taking the step. Not in my own power or fortitude, but in God’s alone.
I don’t fully understand what this ministry will look like. I don’t fully understand why me.
But I do understand I have a tuned heart.
I understand that as a mother of two young daughters, I have a hope someone someday will step up for them.
I understand that I want to be the mentor I wish I had, and the mentor I pray my girls will have.
For now, that’s all I need to understand. God will reveal the rest in due time. He always does.
Care to join me for the adventure?