We're More Than They Say We Are

Truth for all generations, especially millennials, on our identity and purpose through all seasons.

It seems everyone's got something to say about millennials. From our tech-use to our desire to do work that matters (and why that's a problem) to how to keep us, or get us back, in church. While not everyone agrees on the precise birth year range for millennials, it's roughly between 1980 and 2000, which means I am one, whether or not I fit the stereotype.

You know the stereotype: Man buns (what's the female equivalent?), excessive use of smart phones (guilty), tattoos, hanging out in coffee shops (I wish). It doesn't matter that these descriptors also apply to other age groups or that there are plenty of millennials that don't epitomize any of this. It also doesn't seem to matter that these aren't even our important identifiers (let's go back to that doing work that matters and I bet we'd find a connection to our wavering presence at church). The rhetoric tells us we have been labeled mostly as a problem.

There's enough "bad press" or negativity around my generation, it's time we stop being spoken about and instead speak for ourselves. To step up and call up our peers, contributing the best of what we've got and making the most of what we're working with. Many of us are already doing this, but lest we get bogged down by yet another joke undermining our generation, this is your reminder to keep on.

Millennials: You're my generation. One worth fighting for. More importantly one worth fighting with. We don't need to convince anyone of that but ourselves.

First, we've got to stop listening to the negativity about us and truly seek truth. Who we are, what we have to offer, our purpose in this world, and how we'll overcome the challenges of this season. These important details are not up to marketers or researchers or church leaders. Our questions of identity and purpose through all of life's seasons (yes, for you other generations, too) belongs in God.

That's the purpose of this post. Circulating some hope and truth and encouragement for my generation. But not just for millennials, because the truth about our identity and our purpose transcends generations.

Our Identity: We are made by a Creator who loves us...

We are made in the image of the God who created the universe (Genesis 1:26). We are children of God and thus heirs; as heirs we may take part in Christ's suffering, but we will also take part in His glory (Romans 8:16-17). We don't yet know our full identity as children of God, but our hope is that as Christ is revealed, we will find that we are like Him (1 John 3:1-3). We won't let anyone look down on us or label our generation with negativity; we will read truth and meditate on truth and let our actions speak for us in love, spirit, and faith (1 Timothy 4:12-16).

Our Purpose: to love God and people...

Our "all" in life comes down to fearing God and keeping His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13), which are summed up in loving God with heart, soul, and mind, and loving our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). As the Israelites were tested in their faith and God provided for them, we know that we will have trials in our faith and God provides for us (Deuteronomy 8:1-6). Whatever our excuses and our limitations to not show up, God is calling us anyway (Jeremiah 1:4-10).

Our Season: for such a time as this.

As long as earth remains, seasons and the ups and downs and rhythms of life will go on (Genesis 8:22). There is a season for everything, and a time for every purpose; God has placed eternity in our hearts to endure until He makes everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 11). Like a tree planted by rivers of life, our lives will bear fruit in season (Psalm 1:3). We will not get tired of doing good, because we will see the reward if we don't give up (Galatians 6:9). We will not get away with sitting idly as the world all around us aches and even dies in the need of God's love; we exist for this time and this place to do our part (Esther 4:13-14).

To recap: You are God's special and planned for creation and generation. Your whole life has purpose and meaning that starts with loving God and loving people. Your identity and purpose remain through any season, even when you don't feel it. And God's good gets the last word. Always. When we live in these truths--in God's truth--we will impact our present world for His glory.

Let's encourage each other across generations with this Truth, because we are stronger together in Christ than we are apart (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11).

Don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise.
Free printable Bible texts and discussion questions about our identity and purpose through all of life's seasons.
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PS, I led a discussion on this with some fellow millennials this last weekend. If you're interested in discussing and praying with your peers on this topic, you can grab the handout I made with Bible texts and discussion questions about our identity and purpose through all of life's seasons.

Get the PDF >> here.

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when God wakes us up
grow your life

When God Gently Wakes Us Up

Comfort Detox by Erin Straza | "Once we start practicing habits of compassion, trust, and humility, our daily lives will shift. Ego-mania will diminish as we loosen our grip on our days and begin to extend God's comfort to others."

As a mom, I care deeply about my kids' comfort... unless it interferes with their growth or what's best for them. As I think about it, their growth and what's best for them often demands some discomfort from them.

We face it every morning when one or both does not want to get out of bed to get ready for school. Bed is maybe the most comfortable place in this world for them. Yet, aside from a good night's sleep, our best lives are simply not lived while in the comfort of our beds. So everyday we encourage and coerce them out of the warm cocoon of their beds so they can get to school (which brings in more discomforts) all for the sake of their growth and their best interest.

I believe God calls me to the same--getting out of my comfortable places so that I can truly live and love in His name. Sure, for my best interest and growth, but especially to spread His comfort and love to a hurting world around me.
God grants comfort to our aching souls so that we will recycle it for others who are aching.
I fully believe this shift in my prioritizing of comfort will all be worth it in light of happily ever after with Him. I've also seen firsthand how getting uncomfortable for God's glory brings what's best for me now.

Some of my best and proudest life experiences were those that pushed me out of my comfort zone. Where my comfort was placed in Jesus, and He moved my feet to places I wouldn't normally go or to speak when I'd rather stay quiet. Planting seeds and growing in His beautiful plan for me.

When I've shown up at places when I would have rather stayed home in my pajamas (confessions of a full-blooded introvert). When I set aside years of reserved shyness and quiet to speak to groups. When I left my high school, home, and country to go live with my friend and her missionary family in Mongolia. When I gave birth to each of my 3 kids. When we've been in need financially or emotionally and God comes through with a miracle.

Even looking back on these experiences, I still somehow end up missing the point when new discomforts come up. When I start feeling the gentle tugging and awakening of conviction in my mind and my heart, I pull the metaphorical covers over my head and say, "do I have to?" and "but I don't want to!" And sometimes throw in the occasional excuse--an adult life version of, "I think I'm sick. I should just stay home."

Still, God is gentle, He is faithful, and He loves me too much to leave me here, rotting away in my own comfort.

That's where I am as I've been reading Comfort Detox (*aff. link) by Erin Straza. I've needed these words along the journey pointing me into the discomfort, reminding me God's there with His comfort and the miracle of an extra dose to share with those around me... all by walking and following out of my preconceived safe or comfort zones.
Being comfortable isn't exactly exciting. ...Yet a body at rest will stay at rest until a greater force comes along and pushes it into motion.
God is that greater force, and it seems Comfort Detox is one more force coming along to push me into motion. As I read it, I had all kinds of ideas of what I wanted to share with you and what I wanted to tell you about it. For now, this feels sufficient. It's where I am on my own comfort detox journey.

I'm rolling out of bed (or maybe just still thinking of rolling out of bed?) ready for the beautiful life God has planned out there in the world. Where my plans and comfort and familiar is replaced with His glorious plans, comfort, and unknown. Where He is more than enough for me, and He is more than enough for the hurting world around me.

I hope you'll read Erin's necessary and timely words. I hope you'll be encouraged and convicted through her detox steps at the end of each chapter. And most of all, I hope you'll consider where God is gently trying to wake you up, and call you out of your comfortable life into a big and beautiful world of His plans for you.
Once we start practicing habits of compassion, trust, and humility, our daily lives will shift. Ego-mania will diminish as we loosen our grip on our days and begin to extend God's comfort to others.
(Quotes in italics are from the book Comfort Detox by Erin Straza. Learn more or get the book >> here.)

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courage to do hard things
slow reader to book lover
grow your life

*Note: Affiliate links used. Purchases through these links could earn me a small commission with no extra cost to the purchaser.

Practical Ways to Cling to What is Good

Practical everyday ways to overcome anxiety, refocus on God's truth, and find courage for today by clinging to what is good.

The one thing that crowds out my anxious thoughts, keeps me focused on God's truth, gives me courage to do hard things or even the next right everyday mundane task in my life is to cling to what is good. To remember good things and intentionally act on that good.

Romans 12:9-21 expounds on what this "clinging to what is good" looks like in action. Definitely read it all in context. Following are some practical everyday actions that help me cling to good all day everyday.

Start each day with a bible text to focus on.

We've started to use our morning drive to share a Bible text to remember throughout the day, a little talk about what it means and how to put it in action, followed by prayer. For example, this morning my husband shared Matthew 5:9: "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God." I'm definitely clinging to that today.

Turn on uplifting music.

I love the grounding and persevering courage messages of hymns. Lately, I've been listening to the Fernando Ortego station on Pandora, which has a great mix of meaningful and inspirational songs. Sometimes I like something peppier and mix it up. Filling in the silence with something positive can help keep my mind from running away. You do you on what uplifts you.

Shut down the technology.

I really struggle with it. Yet, I know it's always easier for me to cling to good thoughts and follow through on good actions when I'm not perpetually distracted by news or debates or other people's everyday lives. The scrolling and liking and checking are so additive. There's a time and a place for checking in--that time is not all day and that place is not everywhere. (If I get too preachy on this topic, it's because I need it.)

And when online, don't feed the trolls or engage the drama.

It is not my job to monitor the internet or add opinions to every debate. I can see and listen and observe without letting it cause me to cling to negative things or draw me in to futile rage. Limiting the amount of times I check in and how long I stay on helps me use the time productively rather than typing things I regret or following rabbit trails I can't un-see. And I've never regretted stepping away before responding.

Do the next right thing.

Maybe it's doing the dishes or feeding the family or paying some bills or working out or going to work or writing something no one may ever see or calling a state rep about something happening that isn't right. Doing the next right thing puts that good to action.

Put love in action.

And often, the next right thing involves loving someone--our real life friends and family, or hurting, hungry, or lonely people. With encouraging words, calming presence, donations to causes you believe in, hugs, and prayers. There are so many ways to love, and it's our whole duty as humans (Eccl. 12:13), so it's worth finding ways to do everyday.

Pray. Continually.

Thank Him, ask Him, vent to Him, pause to listen to Him. He redirects my mind onto His goodness and truth; He empowers me to do hard but good things through His strength; He absorbs my pain and frustrations; and His good gets the last word. Always.

I love how Romans 12:21 wraps it up: Overcome evil with good. (Read Romans 12:9-21 for the full context.) That's ultimately what clinging to what is good is all about--overcoming evil starting with our words and our actions.

How do you cling to what is good?


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also see:
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5 ways to be filled
when you feel caught in-between
courage when you need it
grow your life