i'm a youngest child. the baby of the family. all you older siblings out there resent us, you look at how we are spoiled and coddled and you take out your jealousy by taking advantage of your age and bullying us, which only upsets us, earns us sympathy from our parents and thus perpetuates your problem--which only adds to your consternation. it's a nasty cycle. there is nothing you can do about it, i'm sorry.
but that's not what i want to talk about. another advantage of being the youngest is that you get to watch your older siblings, often exclaiming subconsciously "boy that didn't work at all" or "what were they honestly thinking?" so when you come to that place in your life, every place that is, you've had a couple of examples of what not to do. and occasionally, you have a few good examples--or that ever-annoying bar of perfection placed at unattainable heights. either way it's usually safe to say that you have the advantage of much greater perspective than your same-generation forebears.
in a sense every generation is somehow reacting to and against the one that came before, or probably more accurately the few before. i don't know who decides these things, but apparently i am pretty much right on the edge of two generations--too young to be part of generation x and on the older end of what they call generation y. i sometimes feel this connection to both sides, their values, their attitudes--especially having older siblings. but more and more i discover the things in me that make me much more a millennial. i wonder if there are different "christian generations." how would those be divided? probably similar and influenced by the standard definitions but expressed differently perhaps.
but that's not what i want to talk about either. not exactly. i want to look more specifically at one thing in particular. family and marriage.
it's nothing all too insightful to say that the younger generation cares more about social justice and public morality than xers. i don't know about the younger side of this generation though--i feel like that might be started to fade. we'll see. but for whatever reason i see a lot of christians my age and a little younger who have seen the selfishness of the boomers (their parent's generation) and the destructiveness of the xer's self pity (see into the wild for a great example) and we've chosen a different route. that may be a gross oversimplification and there are many other factors as well as exceptions, but that's what i've seen a lot of. so how does that affect marriage and family? and why am i drawn to talk about that in particular? no it's not because i'm unmarried--why would you think that?
i think it's because for so long the family was supposed to be the place of establishment and security for people. young people so often oriented so much of their lives around finding that mr/mrs right and getting their life in order through that foundation. a lie, perhaps--but one bought hook line and worm. just watch a chick flick. something like 27 dresses and try not to gag. people still buy into this like crazy, but not as much. a massive example of divorce and separation has given a lot of the younger folks commitment issues. beyond that existential reeling that maybe xers felt a bit more, millenials (ys) maybe have gone a bit deeper into the problem. perhaps the problem isn't marriage or family but where we put it in our lives. is it the absolute thing? is it our entire orientation and goal? then that's a problem.
again nothing all that new as far as thoughts go, but that doesn't mean we live by it. and i also didn't really intend for this post to be so impersonal. it is very personal. i question our priorities. i wonder about where we have put our faith for security and establishment in this life. is it in marriage? is that the foundation? i know i have fallen into making an idol out of it in the past. faith can be shown by asking the question, "what is our ultimate concern?" is it your marriage? your hope of getting married? your hope of having a family? because life isn't really established until you have that, right? or maybe it's just love.
why have we bought into this lie? maybe there is some truth to it--after all, didn't God say it isn't good for man to be alone? never mind how far we run with that. can we find our sense of establishment in something else? in community? in the Holy Spirit? in mission? in the person of Jesus Christ present in our lives? or do we give it up for a marriage? maybe not all of it but how much? how much will we sacrifice in the name of love (how noble/romantic) for our beloved? never mind we are the beloved of another. we have to find ours first. then we can get on with our life and feel more secure, because no matter what happens at least we'll have that other.
if that all seems a bit extreme and maybe you think i exaggerate, most of those thoughts and attitudes are at least something i have felt before. and i have to continue to set those aside as i accept what God has had for me apart from all of that family and love and marriage thing. and i have to learn to realize that this is not lesser. this is not incomplete. but man is that going against so many pervasive values in our culture, christian and otherwise. maybe establishment and security isn't what we should be after anyway. down with the man, right? but it is something we all desire deeply (well most of us), and we aren't really in the habit of allowing for some of our desires to be declared wrong, especially not ones that seem so good and loving. but maybe we can see them all a little differently, a little clearer--hopefully we can with a little better perspective.