I’m going to let you in on a big secret I re-learned this week by taking 14 youth to Montreat Youth Conference. Whether they act like it or not, our youth look to the adults in their families, churches, and communities for hope. But it is not easily found.
American families are teetering on the edge of financial and emotional instability. Our communities are embroiled in bitter battles over flags, guns, and equality. And our churches—which should be offering a sanctuary of hope, guidance and purpose during these turbulent times, are splitting (and even closing) over issues of doctrine and dogma. No matter where they step, the road seems to cave in on our youth—leaving them alone and hopeless to face a multitude of questions about faith, identity, and purpose.
So what can we do to get us all back on track? Let’s keep it simple. Offer them time, hope and a purpose. It works on a multitude of levels. It’s easy to say but very difficult to do because it requires us to LOOK UP. Look up from our phones, our calendars, our social media, and acknowledge that there is something to look up toward. When we look up and engage in our surroundings, we become surprised and grateful for the force that offers a way out of our misery and confusion. There is a force offering love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and goodness. We just have to move our eyes toward it.
When we look up, we give others a sacrifice of time. One hour. (One day, if you really want the world to change!) Turn everything off. Be grateful for what you see. Ask questions about another person’s story, hopes, and dreams. If it sounds too touchy feely for you–take a walk together. The words tend to flow more easily as your feet move. Take a drive together with the radio off. Wheels will turn inside and out, if you let them. The more you engage with others face to face, the more connected you’ll feel and the more optimistic you’ll become.
Unfortunately, America prefers lighted boxes over community. These “devices of delusion”– TV’s, smartphones, computers, and gaming devices–dole out isolation, fear, violence, and greed. Our devices are distracting us from the true community God intended us to live within.
Our Eastminster Power and Light Youth Group watched this you tube video together https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7dLU6fk9QY Since then, when we see anyone missing out on community, we say, “Look up, friend. There’s a world out there.” I think the video says it best. “Go out into the world. Leave distractions behind. “ Time, hope, purpose—pretty simple things to offer our children. All we have to do is look up. Who knows, we may just find that in doing so, it brings all of us closer to our purpose.