A Message for Young People in Uncertain Times
This isn’t the article I intended to post.
My original article was going to be informative and lay out ways to stay engaged with our communities and political bodies, and how to research and dissect information, along with other useful steps. But then I listened to the news. Multiple stations, multiple views, all with a common theme. Our side is right; the other side is wrong. I listened to Fox News commentators scream about how sick they are of “liberals” and their agendas. I listened to CNN commentators regurgitate the same points over and over like clones, and I wondered “How can I encourage anyone else to listen, to watch, to engage, when every time I turn on the news I get sick to my stomach?” I’m not an idiot. I have a brain, and I am pretty sure I’m not alone.
But this article isn’t about that. This article is for the young people who are listening, watching, and wondering why the world has gone mad. I want you to know that you matter. Even if you can’t vote, your voice is important. Your existence is important. I have two very young children. Being their mother has been a very humbling experience. They’ve taught me so much, even before they could speak. I’m betting the same way they influence me, you influence your parents, family, teachers, and others. Sometimes as an adult, you look to your leaders and are disappointed. In these moments, life can seem very hard and confusing. But God sees these moments when we’re weak and knows just what we need. Many times what we need is you. You are a gift. Here’s why:
The Gift of Responsibility
There’s something to be said for responsibility. If I’m tired and don’t feel like getting out of bed, I’ll stay in bed. But if there’s a little girl waiting for me to eat, I get up and feed her, no matter how tired I am. Why would I do for her what I was unwilling to do for myself? It’s because I’m responsible for her. I don’t know exactly why, but knowing that if I don’t care for her, she won’t be cared for, is motive enough for me to muster whatever energy I have and do what needs to be done. My daughter doesn’t have to do anything extra for me to feel this responsibility. The mere fact that she exists is enough. I can’t be selfish. This is a gift.
The Gift of Admiration
I can’t tell you how many times my daughter has watched me do something (catch a ball, blow bubbles, whatever) and given me a look of such awe that I’d begin to believe that I might actually be an amazing person. She often tells me things like “good job, mommy,” or tells me she wants to be just like me when she “gets big.” This admiration is inspiring. As an adult I know that blowing bubbles isn’t a big deal, but knowing she’s watching makes me want to be better and do better. This is a gift.
The Gift of Accountability
We’ve taught our daughter about manners. You know, “please” and “thank you” and all that. Those things never get old, right? Well, there are times when I’ll ask my daughter to do something, and she’ll reply, “But you didn’t say please, Mama.” Hm. In that moment, I have to wonder which is the lesson I want her to learn? Should I teach her that manners are only for people without power, or should I teach her that even the boss (mommy) should show manners? Parenting in practice is an exercise in accountability. We lead by example, and knowing someone is watching, always watching, is very sobering. There have been times, very recently, when I let my thoughts run wild. It’s a very troubling thing when you hear your children repeat those thoughts, especially without any real understanding of them. My daughter holds me accountable. This is a gift.
The Gift of Enthusiasm
I’m not that old, but playing with my daughters reminds me that I’m not that young, either. One thing young people have in abundance (yes, even the most apathetic teenagers) is zeal. You have the ability to take something, an ideal, a project, a movement, and run with it. This, too is a gift. Just remember that it’s important to understand the source of your enthusiasm. The bible warns us that zeal without knowledge is dangerous (Proverbs 19:2).
If you learn nothing else from me, I want you to learn this. You are a gift from God. It doesn’t matter what you look like, where you’re from, or how much you paid for your shoes. You don’t have to do anything to be special in God’s eyes. You just have to be. There are many things in this life that we must earn and strive for. I’m thankful that God’s love is not one of them.
The last several months I’ve felt a desire to do something, anything, to make a difference. Maybe you’ve felt that, too. I look at the world around me and I just know that there’s something more I can do. The answer came immediately, and it’s a simple thing, really. Do you want to know what God told me to do? Here’s a better question. Do you want to know what God wants you to do?
I encourage you to ask Him.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be hammering out some deadlines to keep you posted on upcoming books. Be on the lookout for an update in February.