Life, Faith & Running
". . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
I originally wrote and posted this in 2018, and have continued to watch as the data and stories rise of young people being bound up by loneliness, fear and addiction. COVID has now increased this generation's experiences with screens, isolation, fear and adults distracted by the same things. The message of this letter may be even more pertinent now than it was 2 years ago, so I wanted to repost it and ask that you share it with others who are parents or those who spend their days walking alongside the next generation. My hope is that each one of us will thoughtfully and prayerfully consider how we can respond with action and courage to lead the next generation toward hope, truth and strength -- that we would be bold enough to invest in the future of our world by being responsible and involved in investing in the personal lives of the ones who will all too quickly begin leading. Jesus sat with the children, will we?
June 23, 2020
Hello, you might know me. I am one of the young. The future. The next generation. I know you see me, and I know you hear me. But I wonder some days do you know and see how to help me? Do you know and see how hard it is to be young during these times we are living in?
Sometimes I hear adults say, what is going on with kids these days? I am not sure what they mean, but it leaves me wondering if perhaps we are not measuring up to expectations.
To be honest, there are just so many expectations to wade through; the pressure of them all leaves me overwhelmed sometimes. I wonder, do you know what it is like to keep track of a cell phone, a Chrome book, a 6-day rotating school schedule, soccer practice, have social media presence AND keep up with all the other things that go along with growing up: navigating relationships, hormones, reputation, image, peer pressure, temptations and the loss of innocence. Do you see us collapsing under the expectation that we manage all of this and still somehow remain kids?
Did you know that our generation is one of the most connected, but loneliest? Did you know that our generation is most likely to be safe from the harm of others but more depressed and suicidal than previous generations? Did you know that even though we know how to use screens and navigate technology without fear, no one has experienced this technologically-filled kind of life, so we have little to no one setting up boundaries for us?
When we were younger than we are now, we used to play in playgrounds with fences around the perimeter to keep us safe and within bounds. We had adults who knew what it took to keep us safe. But where are those fences now? Where are the adults who know where the perimeter is and who put up the fences to let us know where the lines of safety are? Where are the protectors and guides who outline the boundaries for us and blow the whistle to keep us from crossing over to places that harm us?
Yes, our generation has so much freedom. So much information. So much access to everything we could ever want or need to know. Yes, we know how to use apps and websites to learn and connect. But what if it is all too much for us? What if we need boundaries and advisors to blow whistles to keep us safe? What if we need time limits and parameters and rules to guard our emotions, minds, and hearts against the loneliness and depression that comes with always having the option of being connected sitting in our hands or backpacks?
What if we need to be kids again? What if we need to only be held responsible for a backpack, some textbooks, a few number two pencils, and six wide-ruled notebooks. What if we need to be given permission to unplug? What if we need less freedom and more faces in our lives reminding us to limit screen time to only what is required to get homework done? What if we need fewer options for what goes in our ears and minds and more eyes looking us in the eye and reminding us that what we see in front of us is our real life and it is one worth loving, exploring and enjoying because it is a gift from the Divine Creator who has beautiful and prosperous plans for every day, right where we are?
What if we need you to lead us by example? What if we can’t carry this load because we weren’t meant to?
Will you step into this hard world with us? Will you get down to our level and see what it looks, feels and sounds like to be growing up in these times? We need you to see us. We need you to see our future and lead us there. We need you to be the ones who help us navigate this adult world because we don’t know how. We have the information. We have the products. We have access to more than you can even imagine, but what we need is you. We need you to teach us how to establish healthy habits and discern appropriate usage of technology. We are too young to know this on our own. We need you to teach us because our lives and your future depends on it.
The next time you see me with earbuds in, would you choose not to walk by, but to grab my attention and engage me in a conversation. The next time you see me scrolling when I could be playing, would you be brave enough to call me out on it? Maybe even kick a soccer ball my way and play with me? The next time you hear me obsessing about what I saw or heard online, would you be bold enough to ask me a question about my “real” life or relationships with friends?
It is hard down here. We just don’t always have the words to explain how or why. We don’t always know how to ask for help. We need you to see us so well that you know when we need help and how to offer it.
Will you be brave, bold and deliberate in showing us the way to fight back the norms of culture that seem to wash over us with a subtle but eroding force? We can’t know what isn’t taught. We can’t do what isn’t modeled. We can’t meet expectations that are not made clear. Would you teach, model and explain how to navigate this world with grace, humility, and confidence. We would be ever so grateful if you did.
With invisible tears,
The Younger Generation
"But whoever causes the downfall of one of these little ones who believe in Me--it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea! Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!" ~Jesus, Matthew 18:6 (HCSB) & Matthew 18:7 (NIV)
The above compassionate reflection was inspired by what I see each day as a mom and teacher, along with my reading of the following texts:
I highly recommend parents, or any adults who have influence on children, teens or young adults, check out these resources to gain knowledge and understanding on the culture the young are facing in the days ahead.
Let's choose to walk alongside the next generation so that they know they don't need to face the future alone.
Her family and friends know her as, Jaci. She is the wife of a pastor, a mom of four, writing and communications education instructor, a visionary and an avid runner. As a firm believer in the power and effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out the Great Commission, she holds fast to this verse, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Of equal importance to her are these words, "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Posts in the Run for Your Life, series: