In youth group recently we asked our students what their purpose was in life. One said to be strong-mentally, physically, emotionally. Oh how I resonated with that when I was his age and really all the way up through the end of my college experience. I could physically accomplish whatever I needed to and was mentally always turned on and ready to go. I always prided myself on the fact that I didn’t show fear, even under pressure. And I made sure everyone knew it.
Thankfully, and over time and gentle prodding from the Lord, I learned to relinquish some of that and to be honest with myself that there are times I can’t do it alone, or at all, and there are times I am afraid. But then I turned around and did the opposite. I started worrying about what-ifs and life questions and silly questions. And generally, I stopped telling anyone about the accumulating fears I have myself and I see my generation carrying.
My pastor just asked the young adults of our church: What concerns you or what one issue floods your thoughts? This is my response. Open, unguarded for the first time in a long time.
I think a lot of people our age have a large number of fears. Fears that may never come true, and other fears we deal with all the time. Many may seem irrational or contradictory to others, but for us they are very true.
Fears about being lonely, unwanted, unloved.
Fears that we will never find a loving spouse or if we do that they might divorce us, or be unfaithful, or turn out to be gay. Or as bad or even worse, we might be unfaithful to them and not withstand temptation or one day feel divorce is a valid option for us.
In the same way, we are afraid that as much as we like to think we can stay pure before marriage, that we might not make it and there will be no one we can talk to when temptation comes. Most young people believe (and I agree) that the church doesn’t talk about sex and chastity enough, and if they say anything at all, they say it terribly. (I think this video from a pastor, is very powerful and should be shared with everyone whether they have tarnished their purity before or not, with lust, we all have a tarnished purity… http://twentytwowords.com/2009/04/08/jesus-wants-the-rose/ )
Fears that no older people want to listen to us or pray for us when our hearts have been broken-by people, disappointment, situations.
Fears that our next injury will be the one that haunts us the rest of our lives, the limp in our step, etc.
We are afraid of simplicity and afraid of excess at the same time.
We are afraid of abandoning ourselves completely to something or someone because sometimes others have done that before us and it turns into an addiction. Even when some claim to give everything for Jesus, the only fruit we see of it is judgement.
We are afraid of not loving enough and at the same time we worry it was the just love everyone attitude that got the US where we are now.
We are afraid to share exactly what we think and sometimes we are afraid we stayed silent too long. We are afraid we won’t be able to have children or if we can have them, they will turn away from God or us, or we will hurt them or mess them up with our parenting.
We are afraid we will never make an impact on the world.
We are afraid of the 9-5 work week, we like to call it boring or mundane, though most of us have one.
We are afraid that all the social networking, online friendships, dating have made us antisocial when it comes to in-person, face-to-face networking/friendships/dating. But we are also afraid we will wake up one morning and have no new e-mails, twitters, facebook wall writes, cell phone messages.
We are afraid we will never find our dream job or always be stuck with a meaningless job the rest of our lives, or worse be jobless in this economy.
We are afraid we will never be satisfied or content or pleased.
We worry that we don’t have enough education or what we have isn’t actually helpful/practical.
We worry about debt from housing, to educational loans, to credit cards.
We are afraid to have people over as our rooms are messy and our fridges sparse but we are even more afraid you will never invite us over-into your homes, your small groups, your family outings. We won’t notice the mess or the simplicity of food, we promise, we just want to be loved and a part of something again.
We are afraid everyone in the world is as messed up as we are or we are afraid we are the only ones in the world who have flaws and cracks. Either way it can feel awful.
We are afraid we aren’t being honest with others or worse they’re not being honest with us. We crave authenticity-if you (or anyone in the church) went through a rough patch in life; marriage, child raising, school, church, love, divorce, bankruptcy, drugs, etc- TELL US. We often think we will never get through our own rough patches, but if we only knew God brought you through the fire one, two, twenty-seven times before we will feel much better.
We are afraid when our darkest times come; there will be no one to call for prayer, a conversation, a hug.
On top of all that we are afraid of the boogeyman, rapists, swine flu, earthquakes, natural disasters, death, and true open love-from God and others. That mind-blowing sort of love we don’t see on tv or in the news or maybe in our own families.
And most of all we are afraid to tell you how scared we really are these days.
I know we are told not to fear, and not to worry. But we do. It’s probably one of the most common sins of people today. So how do we move on in hope, in true faith, in peace?
Do you agree? Am I wrong? What do you fear? How do you deal with it?