Why Being a Christian Young Adult is Lonely

I think I’ve hit the loneliest point of my life. I don’t mean this in a “woe is me, take pity on me” kind of way…I just mean that bring a young a adult and trying to live your life for Jesus is hard.

First of all, this is the first time in our lives that we we aren’t surrounded by people our own age. We’re no longer in an academic setting of peers, but in a job of intergenerational people. That means that we have to figure out new ways to make friends. That’s weird.

Add in singleness for those of us who didn’t get our MRS or MR degrees, and now we’re doing this alone.

Add in the whole “Bible College” factor, and you’ve got a bigger dilemma: culture shock. What’s funny is, I didn’t think that would happen to me.  I grew up in an urban environment and didn’t think that would apply to me. But alas, I came to the real world and was shocked at how much I didn’t relate to it.

Let’s add moving to a new city or state for our first “big girl” job. Not only am I alone, not only do I not know how to make friends, not only have I lived in a bubble, but now I don’t know anybody. And I can’t find a Target.

So let’s throw in Church. Churches ignore young adults. I have some speculation as to why. Perhaps because they can’t tithe to make an impact, they aren’t given programming. The Church sees no return from it (monetarily at least. We forget spiritual returns in the Church a lot). And since many of us don’t have children, people aren’t forced to give us programming… but this is just speculation. ;)

And how about those of us who take it a step further and work in the Church? That can be a lonely job in itself. Add in all those other factors, and you have a mess.

Let’s not even talk about moving to a new denomination, or how we’re all wrestling with our faith to begin with, or the mass amounts of media advertisement tempting and swaying us to abandon our moral compass.

All I’m saying is, this is a huge struggle.

And I’m not alone. As I confide in peers, I know that we all are experiencing this to a degree.

And Church, we need you. We need community and if you don’t give it to us, we’ll make it for ourselves.

Making A Sabbath

Sabbath is important. As I talked about in my last post, God stated that part of our Covenant with him is to honor the Sabbath.

As youth workers, this is impossible. First-off, Sundays are my busiest day of the week. So a traditional Sabbath is out of question. Secondly, I may have “Fridays and Saturdays off,” but that doesn’t count youth events on the weekend, retreats, or random hospital visits or hang-outs with people who can’t fit into my weird schedule (how dare them!).

Here are a few options of Sabbath:

Turn it off completely when you go home.

Unplug completely. What I do is turn the push notifications off of my phone so that I only recieve texts or phone calls. If I get a text, I ignore it (people actually point this out and I joke I’m a terrible Millennial, but there is actual purpose to it!). I sometimes leave my phone in another room and

Make a daily time of devotion of some sort.

Devotion looks different for everyone–for some people, reading Scripture rejuvenates. For others, it is worship music. Still others, it’s a book.  I have a 25-minute commute to work, so I use it to listen to a scripture devotional (I’m going chronological right now!) or listen to worship music. It is my time that I have regularly. It’s not textbook, and looks differently as I have different needs daily. But it just is.

Find something that is just for you.

Take up a hobby–my senior pastor goes home and chops wood. It’s a thing that he has just for himself, and I would assume it gives time to think or even just turn completely off. I enjoy doodling scriptures that I’m meditating on. I’m not very artsy, but it calms me. On my days off, I cook a huge breakfast, drink coffee really slowly, and enjoy the quiet.

Make a day for you and those important to you.

Chances are, if you aren’t making time for yourself, you probably are not taking care of the ones you love. As an extrovert, I get energy from people (although I require my alone time). Take a day to spend with friends and family. I live in a new city a few hours away from those people, but I understand the need to make a day trip and get refueled.

Regular “Sabbatical.”

For every week that you don’t Sabbath, then you need to add that to a weekend so that you can have an extra-Sabbath-y time. Your church may not grant you a technical Sabbatical, but you can do it yourself. I have a coworker who says that sometimes her husband buys her a hotel room to escape her kids and home hectic-ness; she spends the weekend to herself, journaling and attending another church. I know others who go to the woods for a weekend. I use that time to visit friends and family.

 

None of this is rocket science. But it is important. Know your personality and your needs, and take a rest.

The Importance of the Pit

My church’s theme for Lent is “The Race.” The series is phenomenal; every week I walk away with a revelation about my relationship with God. As an introspective person, this kind of teaching is especially important for my spiritual journey. What makes this even better is that we have “Lenten Small Groups” to dig deeper into each theme with a group of people. It’s refreshing and fantastic. Basically, I dig it. :)

The theme from two weeks back really stuck with me–”Red Flag: The Importance of the Pit.” The idea is that each racecar has a moment where it refuels for the race. Although it may seem momentary, it’s necessary.

This made me reflect: What am I doing to spiritually refuel, change my tires, and take a sip of Gatorade (or honor whatever my sponsor is)?

The funny fact is: As introspective as I am, I am terrible at taking care of myself at times.

One of my dearest friends and I meditated on this scripture a few months ago:

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
Mark 6:30-34 (NIV)

Here’s what hits me: The disciples were overextended. They were so busy, they didn’t even have a chance to eat.

And life didn’t stop because they were so busy–the crowds demanded even more from them. Jesus didn’t say, “Sorry guys, they need more from you. Let’s get back to work.”

Nope. He said, “You go rest. I’ve got this.”

Then this morning in my daily chronological scripture reading, I read the part in Exodus where God states that the Sabbath is a part of his Covenant with his people. He commands that part of honoring God is honoring a time of rest.

Friday I’ll talk about what a Sabbath can look like in ministry, where you sometimes work 7 days a week. My friend Aaron published an infographic where he says that the average number of real Sabbath days a youth worker takes in a day is 14.

I’m not a math genius, but 52 weeks minus 14 sabbath days equals a lot of weeks where we are not keeping up our side of the Covenant.  It makes me wonder if I’m really honoring God with my work if I’m not honoring him with a rest.

So shut up, and take a Sabbath.

5 Tips for Type A Ministers

I’m Type A, and at times I think the “A” stands for Anxiety, which personally turns me into ADHD if I don’t handle it properly. Being Type-A can be a blessing and a curse. Here are 5 tips that I have learned.

Chill on the lists.

One of that characteristics of being Type A is that I always have a to-do list, and I when I check something off of that to-do list, I get a rush of adrenaline.

The downside for youth ministry is this: there is always something to do.  So, if I live off of the mentality that I must check the things off my checklist in order to be content, I’m going to live a very panicked life. That is why I do the next point in order to help–

Set a standard

Every morning I look at my list, and I say to myself, “What are the necessary things I must do today in order to claim today as a success?” For example, I may have 30 things on a to-do list at any time, but  what are the basic things that I can do before I call it a day and go home?

Here’s an example: Yesterday it was to clean out my email, prepare adequately in order to have three meetings with 5 volunteers (crazy day!), and form an outline for our March retreat. This morning I decided that if I made my Sunday lesson, made our announcements, and contacted leaders it would be a success. Of course, there were other things I did, or different parts that went into that. But that defined success for my day and allowed me to go home without anxiety.

Turn off the notifications

Every time my phone goes off, I feel the need to check it… that is why I turn off my “push notifications” or “mobile network” for a majority of the day. When I have the time to check my email, I will check it; I don’t need a notification going off every two minutes with an email, or I will drop everything and check it.

Set personal boundaries.

Type A people feel like they can take on the world, and conquer it alone. First of all, learn to say “no” to unnecessary tasks. Second of all, learn how to delegate tasks to others…and trust that they can do a successful job at it. Lastly, leave some time for a personal life.

Learn vision.

One of the blessings of Type-B people is that they are vision people. They can see the big picture of things, whereas Type A people are tasks and short-term thinkers. Either learn to see the big picture, or surround yourself with people who do.

What do you consider yourself to be–Type A or Type B? How do you set yourself up for success?

CRASH.

I bite off more than I can chew.

This is why I began working out at the gym more regularly.

This is also why I became familiar with my newest self-revelation:

I bite off more than I can chew. All the time.

My little sister and closest friends point it out in me constantly: I “YOLO” and jump feet-first into tasks, without evaluating whether I can really do it or not.

I have a lot of energy, as I blogged about on Wednesday. This can be an incredibly good thing! It is also one of my worst enemies.

I was on the step-climber at the gym. I was going-going-going. But I got tired, really tired. I looked at the time and saw I had only been on like 5 minutes. And I was going so fast, that I almost fell off the thing.

Yep, basically a metaphor for most of life.

What about you? Do you find yourself going so fast, that you almost drop the entire thing and end up doing more damage? What do you do to find a balance?

I am learning to balance life. I do this a few ways, and you can look for those posts next week :)

Being Myself in Ministry

People who are unashamedly and unapologetically themselves have always drawn me in.

My little sister is a great example of this: She is an over-active, over-hyper, extra-stimulated version of myself. I appreciate that, because she doesn’t change that part of herself for anybody.

I did.

Most of my childhood and teenage years, the parts of me that were outgoing and extroverted were quenched by people who labeled me as “obnoxious.”

That part of me never left, but it definitely matured. And thankfully so–I knew that my desire to be the center of attention had a great heart behind it (a heart to please people and affirm them), yet it left a taste in peoples’ mouths because of my lack of maturity to properly channel my energy.

Working primarily in junior high for the past three months has brought out this “true self” of mine–someone who is outgoing, loves people, and outrageous at times.

Here’s the difference, though:
Young me wasn’t comfortable with my personality.
New me is unapologetic for the way that I’m wired.

Last week a coworker pinpointed me as an “ENFJ” from the Meyer-Briggs. An ENFJ is an extrovert with an introverted intuition that molds to situations and desires to meet people where they are.

This means that I can be obnoxious during a game or announcements, but when I teach my priorities shift. My deepest desire isn’t to entertain students, but to provide them a comfortable place to grow in God and in community with others.

“Old Heather” was an entertainer from her own self-loathing. “New Heather” uses her awkwardness and ability to make fun of herself to show Junior Highers that they can be their true self.  “Old Heather” wasn’t comfortable with the quiet. “New and Improving Heather” requires down-time and doesn’t see it as “nobody loves me and I have no friends and that’s why no one asked me to hang out on a Friday night and I’m eating an entire pizza.” There’s a balance now :)

Ministry is bringing the “real me” out. When processing this with a coworker, he said that is the entire point of this whole thing–so many of us put on a different voice and personality when we step behind a pulpit. We try to be something we’re not in ministry–and as we all know, it is tiring trying to be someone you’re not.

If I believe that it important to provide a place for students to be themselves, than I need to be myself. Sure, that self is kind of obnoxious at times. Sure, that self is in a process of maturity and learning how to better filter thoughts. Yet, at the same time, my obnoxiousness is a reflection of God’s zeal and passion for us.

What about you? Are you your true personality with students? What does that honestly look like?

World Vision through the Millennial Vision

As RHE put it,

This whole situation has left me feeling frustrated, heartbroken, and lost. I don’t think I’ve ever been more angry at the Church, particularly the evangelical culture in which I was raised and with which I for so long identified. I confess I had not realized the true extent of the disdain evangelicals have for our LGBT people, nor had I expected World Vision to yield to that disdain by reversing its decision under pressure. Honestly, it feels like a betrayal from every side.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here:
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/march-web-only/world-vision-why-hiring-gay-christians-same-sex-marriage.html

When Christians made all tons of hoopla, there by RHE that shows a response to Evangelical responses: http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/world-vision

That’s not why I’m upset, though. This is: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/march-web-only/world-vision-reverses-decision-gay-same-sex-marriage.html

Put a fork in me, I’m done.

This is why this matters:
When Chick-Fil-A, Hobby Lobby, and Duck Dynasty, and even World Vision made stances, I supported them. I thought, “Here is a company making a decision from their moral and spiritual compass.” We don’t see this happen much, especially from a religious standpoint. I love our freedom to exercise our faith freely, and I thought that although at times those companies said things a little ignorantly, they had what they believed together. This is important to me.

With World Vision, they didn’t do it from a deep conviction. Nope, they overturned it the same day the Evangelical world got crazy about it. They buckled under pressure and instead of standing their ground, or leaving it up to local churches to decide, they end up making a policy and statement that wasn’t there to begin with.

This isn’t about whether you agree with homosexuality or gay marriage or not. Regardless of what our culture of false dichotomies teaches us, you can be a both/and on this.

This is about treating people fairly. Standing your ground. Not making decisions hastily.

As a girl who LOVES World Vision, this is outright frustrating. I could have continued to host events and sponsor other projects if they were one or the other, honestly. But this shows a character trait I despise: Flakiness. Inconsistency. Lack of corporate judgement and discernment.

And I’m not the only Millennial who is hurt by this. We are watching and either being extremely hurt by the inconsistency, or learning that we can be a culture of hypocrisy and inconsistency. The God I serve is a god of neither.

And maybe they heard the criticism and genuinely changed their mind? Is that not okay? Of course it is. But before you publicize a decision that may be controversial (and every side of this debate is), don’t you consult your inner circle first? This way has done FAR more damage. It seems almost like a hoax.

And of course, as RHE points out, I don’t think people should drop their sponsorships. Those children shouldn’t have a change of support just because WV is acting looney right now.

I also suspect that, with how hard everyone is coming down on them, that they are feeling as guilty and dirty as I feel FOR them. And that’s humbling-we’ve all done jank like this.

Blech. I need to go think. And I encourage you to as well. I’m hurting, yet reminded of a God who was still able to use ME even when I had lapses of judgement.