Like most Millennials, I’ve been taught the old bible adage that to whom much is given, much is expected. The idea is that comparatively, I am well educated, have had a solid upbringing, and am well connected. I need to use those blessings to pay it forward. As a woman, that’s even more so, since my brilliant female family members in generations past never got the opportunity to do what I am allowed, even encouraged to do.
The problem for me, like so many other Gen Y’ers, is what that “paying forward” looks like in practice. Because I was taught to be a world changer, but what world changer meant was that I needed to change the world, individually, and I needed to do it all before my 30th birthday.
Two articles published in May, The New Legalism by Anthony Bradley and Suburbia Needs Jesus, Too, by Andrea Palpant, really challenged this mentality. They expressed what I have been battling internally for two years. Both asked the question (in so many words):
Why is being an ordinary person with a non-glamorous job, living in the suburbs, and having nothing spectacular to boast about — but someone who loves God and loves their neighbor not enough?
Because truthfully, for years, I judged people — especially suburban moms — for this exact thing. I thought of them as self-centered, selfish, and living in a bubble. And that’s because I was young and stupid. I, like so many others who are my age or younger, underestimated what sacrifice and faithfulness takes in the long run.
As I get older, those who have led lives of devotion to their spouses, children, and neighbors mean more to me than ever. I find myself asking them, “how did you do it? How do you still do it?”
I’m not saying that there isn’t a place to be concerned for poverty, social justice, injustice, and caring for the wounded. There is. And there is still a commitment and plan-in-action to pursue those things. But I am saying that I can’t be 100% devoted to Jesus, to my family, to my church, and to my community and run a non-profit by myself that changes the world. Not right now. And even more so, I don’t think that’s what I or, even many of us, are called to. We’re called to lay down our lives for the good of others. That may be on a mission field or serving in a non-profit. But for a lot of us, that may mean sacrificially giving our lives to our family and neighbors.
Another article, also appearing on the Her-meneutics page of Christianity Today’s Web site, reflected this sentiment. The author, Hope Henchey, had this to say:
Churches can no longer assume that students already recognize the value of the family, or that they know how to serve one another even in very basic ways. Alongside our efforts to inspire young people to do “big things” for Christ, we need to teach them to uphold “boring” things like the vital gift of hospitality. If it’s not taught in their own homes, how are they going to learn about possibly the best way to interact with the lost and with fellow believers? The Acts 2 model of breaking bread together in homes will one day have to mean more for students than going to IHOP with friends after church.
Being a model of hospitality. Getting up for almost a decade to clean bodily fluids in the middle of the night. Having peace in my home and showing my kids what healthy relationships look like. Patiently bearing with those who sin against me. Using my intellect to multiply myself three times over to make internationally minded, compassionate children. It may not seem like much. It may not seem like “world-changing” activity. But I dare you to try it. You’ll find that it takes everything you have.
And by the way, if you’re still unconvinced, try reading one last article. Because if you talk to those of us who are trying to do this, and we’re really honest, this is what we would tell you.
May all those who dare with me to live ordinary lives have an Extraordinary support behind us. I know I need it. I’m not going to make it if I don’t.