Being thirty-something could imply anything from traveling solo around the world to being a stay-at- home mom with more than three children; so, I’ll start with the things we all have in common.
– Social pressure
You know what I’m talking about. All the spoken (and unspoken) questions:. When will you get a boyfriend/engaged/married/a baby/another baby/ a job/a better job? It never ends, and not only does it have the potential to drive us crazy, it often makes us miss-out on the season we’re in.
What if we could realize that we may never be single again or engaged or married without children? What if we could embrace the fact that now is the only time we can be doing what we’re called to do in this season?
I’d hoped I would have outgrown it by now, but the truth is that peer-pressure never really ends – it just gets greater. And to add a whole new dimension to it, somewhere in the second half of my lifetime, “social media” was added into the mix. We still want to be the “cool kids”, only the “cool kids” are not the ones getting all the guys or playing for the first team anymore. The “cool kids” are the ones posting the best facebook profiles, driving the nicest cars, going on exotic holidays, and living in the best neighborhoods.
Do we really have to wait fifteen more years to realize that the people we’re trying so hard to impress don’t really care about who we are? What does it cost us in the long run to strive to measure up to the world’s standards and expectations? And when will we finally realize that true love accepts us just as we are and don’t really care about all the other stuff?
We live in a world where competition is a part of daily life. In sports, a team may lose or win. Only the best players get trophies and medals. Some healthy competition in life never hurt anyone. I can only speak for myself, but it certainly taught me to work harder and made me strive to do my best.
However, I cannot help but wonder if we’re taking this competition thing a little too far. Maybe we’re not intentionally comparing our babies, spouses, or lifestyles with each other, but we do. Maybe that is why we go to extremes trying to outdo each other at two-year-old birthday parties, reunions, and other celebrations.
– Craving deep connections
Before returning to South Africa for a visit, I spent a few months feeling really sorry for myself for being so lonely and isolated. Since I’m married and also have a “mini-companion” toddler twenty -four-seven, it might sound silly. But the truth is, I missed living close to my friends and family. Then I went home only to realize that one can live right next to someone and still be miles apart or live miles apart and be closely connected at heart.
Do we feel lonely and isolated because of where we live? Or does it have more to do with the walls we build around our hearts? Or, is it because of anger and resentment that causes us to shut others out? Is it the fear of being rejected – again? Are we perhaps too busy to make time for what is really important? Too wrapped up in our own lives to invite others in?
In spite of our individual differences and diverse roads in life’s journey, we’ve all established a history in everything from relationships to school records. We’re all able to look back and take notes of some proud moments and regrets. However, we know that we cannot change anything about the past, so we can only hope to learn from it and apply what we have learned to make better decisions in the future.
What have we learned from our own history and observing others?
Perhaps we have too many choices. The more options and opportunities we have, the more difficult it is to choose the “right” one. Conflicting messages from society – and from the Internet – don’t help. The fact that your mind and heart don’t always agree doesn’t help. Knowing that some decisions can affect the rest of your life only adds to the pressure.
Do we realize that no matter how complicated our choices may be, it always comes down to a simple yes or no? However, saying yes to one thing always implies saying no to something (or someone) else? In the end, we will have to weigh our priorities. The only question we really need to ask and answer is “How do we choose to live our lives and what do we value the most?”
Habits evolve from past choices – good or bad – and how they have shaped us. The great thing is that it’s not too late to quit bad habits or to pick up good ones.
The only question here is, “Do we really want to change?” By now, we all have come to realize that no amount of pleading, preaching, or even threatening will bring results in others if the motivation doesn’t come from within and the strength from above.
Rejection, hurt, disappointment, heartbreak, trauma… we’ve all been there. Probably on both sides of it, in one way or another. We have issues, and instead of trying to resolve them, we often become experts at avoidance.
It really hit me when I realized that our children will grow up in a world much harder to live in than it was when we were children. My generation enjoyed a sense of safety when playing outside as children, without the danger of pollution and fear of evil. We actually enjoyed playing outside with real playmates and real interaction without the distractions of social media or mobile devices. Even so, we ended up having issues.
Perhaps the best thing we can do for our children is to take the time to sort out our own issues and resolve our own conflicts so they don’t spill over to negatively affect our kids. Otherwise, our homes might lose their potential to be the place of solace and rest from the war zone outside. Then, where on earth could they feel safe?
I don’t recall ever attending a funeral where the possibility of the deceased being at a “better place or at home in heaven” was not mentioned, regardless of how the person may have lived. Although we are not appointed Judges over eternity, we know in our hearts that the fruit of one’s life will determine whether he will inherit eternal life or death. So, we should not get too comfortable with the idea that we’ll all meet up in heaven no matter how we live our lives.
Most of us grew up in‘church or with some form of religious system. Some of us even decided to “leave church” as we grew older or made a decision not to believe in anything. We began to feel too old to blindly accept the religion of our ancestors and too young and uninformed to avoid it altogether. However, the process of searching will lead us to a decision, and faith grows into something greater when we make a personal choice.
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” – Joshua 24:15
I’m sure we have a lot more in common and I hope that I’m not the only one thinking about these things and asking these questions (if not, I would love to hear some of your thoughts and observations). Friends, no matter how many differences we may have, if we have shared life on this earth for the past thirty or more years, I do not want any of us to miss out on finding our way home to our loving Father.
I hope that we will find the courage not to conform to this world and become part of the statistics marking how much have changed for the worse in our lifetime. Let us avoid joining the rat race which causes us to out-run instead of embracing this little time we have and each other.
May we spend our lives being grateful for what we have, making the most of the unique lives and gifts we have received. May we use our time, money, energy, and resources wisely to invest in everything with eternal value. May our relationships be filled with love, forgiveness and kindness to others, and may our lives be Spirit-filled and full of good fruit.
And finally, may we truly be a generation that will not be swallowed up by all the changes around us; but rather, may we ever be learning to embrace life and change to leave a legacy to the next generation.
Image Credit: Pixabay