We’ve all been there. That year or two in our life when everything changed. Suddenly our attempts to run were impeded by our gangly legs. Our normally stable voice now squawked whenever our mouth opened its annoying self. Pimples made our face look like a polka-dotted grease factory. We became aware of unexplainable urges and desires deep within our bodies and souls. Self-consciousness defined our life as we grasped at the stability of childhood and reached for the promises of adulthood. Above all we became aware that life had lost its innocence. It now demanded answers from us.
Generations also experience growing pains. My generation of millenials is currently in the thick of it, and I can’t help but wonder about the final outcome. With the modern generation behind us (for the most part) and postmodernism in full swing we are as confused as pubescent children. No longer can we simply accept the accepted answers of our parents, teachers, and churches–we want them to to be true for ourselves. Like all previous generations we want real answers to real life, and, like all previous generations, we are convinced that we will find them.
According to us, the establishment has had its day. Established answers from faceless organizations no longer satisfy. Instead we desire one-on-one relationships. As you are. Raw. Unpretentious. No agenda. Our heroes are not those flawless figures of the past; rather, we emulate those people who still struggle honestly with life’s brutal and beautiful day to day realities.
We also value diversity which manifests itself in our art, music, literature, and even relationships. Instead of finding unity in diversity we prefer to let diversity be diverse. Fragmentation is now celebrated.
I sense much fear about the problems of my generation, and rightfully so. I question the love of a parent who does not show concern for a pubescent teenager. It’s easy to see this great cultural shift as overwhelming, uncontrollable, and much, much bigger than ourselves. And that’s because it is. It’s also easy for us and those who grew up in a different era to see the switch as bigger than anything else in our mankind’s history. I doubt that. Then again I haven’t been around very long either. Regardless, we must never forget that these generational growing pains are just as natural as biological growing pains. Attempts to unnaturally increase or decrease the awkwardness will only cripple us.
I have refrained from critique so far. I’m simply pointing out what I see in my peers and feel in myself. In fact, I find it difficult to critique because I’m very much living in it. Nevertheless, I contend that we have much going for us with our values (although we don’t call them that) of love, humility, reality, acceptance, living, relationships, mentoring, social work, networking, simplicity, and living what we believe or say we believe. We have real seekers among us–people who want what is right and true. All of us crave a meaningful existence.
But lest I portray an overly optimistic view, we have some serious problems. First of all, we will completely waste our time if we try to reinvent the wheel. We came from somewhere. We are not are own, and we can learn from history–both positively and negatively. Also, we dare not build our philosophy on what the previous generations lacked. At some point our cynicism must turn into positive action. Negativity as a foundation is never sustainable.
Puberty is a scary time for everyone involved, yet it remains vitally necessary for healthy adulthood. The same goes for generational shifts as growing people personalize the big question–Who in the world are we and why in the world are we here? This question provokes fear, but we as a generation must answer it, and believe our answer. In the middle of the conflicting questions and ideas, I am encouraged that Jesus Christ remains as relevant today as he was for the first millenial generation. As G.K. Chesterton demonstrates in The Everlasting Man, true Christian belief has repeatedly “died” only to rise again to new life. This gives me hope. Perhaps we as a generation sit on the eve of a great revival. Let’s continue to seek, explore, question, and understand. But let’s seek for what is real and good and eternal. Long live the Truth.