2019 is here!
You know what that means? Those extra pounds you’ve been trying to lose will miraculously melt away. All your debt will be cancelled. Every bad decision you made in 2018 will be forgiven and forgotten. This is great news, right?
If only it were true.
When I was in junior high, I used to set an alarm for 1 a.m. Why? My brother was a senior in high school, and that was usually when he came home on the weekends. I would wake up a few minutes before his curfew and turn the television on. I made sure it looked like I’d been up all along. Why did I go to all this trouble? This was the only time my brother and I really hung out. After all, he was a senior, a star baseball player, and he had a beautiful girlfriend. If I wanted any time to have him to myself, I had to make an effort.
How much “stuff” is enough? All families struggle with this simple, yet profound question. In America today, there are always bigger homes, faster cars, and more powerful gadgets to exhaust a budget of any size. But how much should we have? Does there ever come a point in our accumulation of assets, toys, experiences, and bank accounts that we ever say, “I have enough”?
During a recent Campus Life club meeting on a Wednesday morning, we had a great conversation about how things are often not what they seem. As I have wrestled with what we talked about that day with a room full of middle schoolers, it dawned on me that the information shared in that time is perfect for a much broader audience. So, here is my recollection of what we talked about that day.
I spent years trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Even as a grown-up, I still wasn’t sure I knew what I was supposed to be doing. I tried on many different hats, but they just didn’t seem to fit quite right. Only now, at 31, have I finally found the intersection of what I love to do and where I can use my strengths and talents.
I am privileged to have conversations with teenagers almost every day. We talk about everything from pop culture to relationships. Oftentimes, the relationship conversation goes far beyond their crushes, boyfriends, and girlfriends, and extends to family. Sometimes, things are great at home, and students are eager to talk. Other times, they would much rather talk about anything but their families. Either way, in my attempt to get to know them better, family will eventually be mentioned, because I believe that there are very few aspects of life that influence us like family.
Children need unconditional love. They need to feel safe. When they feel safe, they are more likely to go out into the world and explore. They will be unafraid to take chances, and even mess up a time or two, because they know love will protect, cover and “never fail.”
As 2018 begins, I invite you to invest in the lives of the youth of our community. December was a fresh reminder of the desperate situations many of our young people face. The holidays bring many of these needs to the surface. Churches and other groups are more diligently looking to fill needs. Families are more ready to ask for help. But what many of us uncover can be disheartening. Families are often ill-equipped to guide their children through the teenage years. Neighborhoods bring bad influences. Peer pressure has never been greater. Teens have more people ready to feed them poor advice than ever before.
I was a good student in high school and college. Mostly A’s in high school and then A’s and B’s at UA, as I pursued a degree in mechanical engineering. School was definitely challenging. There were often times each semester I thought there was no way to finish the coursework and keep my sanity.
Life is hard. We try to convince ourselves that one day, everything will fall into place just as we wish. We’ll no longer deal with the sting of disappointment. But, that is a day that never arrives. Friends let us down, we aren’t treated fairly, the promotion we know we deserve escapes us, and we are never fully recognized for the contribution we make to the world around us. And yes, even far worse tragedies happen in the world in which we live. The list of ways that life disappoints could fill this column 10 times over. I know I have grown more capable in dealing with these setbacks, but they still surprise and hurt.