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It’s no secret that I adore 20-somethings.  Maybe because I remember how hard it was and what a mess I was?  Maybe because many of you are just starting your families, and I remember what it’s like to try to figure it all and not have a clue whether or not you are making monumental mistakes?  Or maybe it’s because all our kids are in their 20’s and we think they’re amazing!

However, due to my close affiliation with people, especially Christians, in their 20’s, I’ve noticed a trend that seems disconcerting to me, and I’d like to address it to you, 20-somethings, who are trying to figure out how to start a family, or how to be loving and live in community, or how to manage all the new experiences of being grown-up like tending a home and paying for it, or even how to read the Bible and pray.

First I’d like to say, it’s hard, and I remember.  Not all of you come from amazing families where the first people you’d run to for advice would be your parents.  Some of you didn’t even have parents growing up.  Maybe you were fatherless (or motherless).  Maybe you grew up in the Foster System.  Maybe your parents were so awful you decided to disown them, and didn’t want their influence in your kids lives any more than you wanted them in your’s.  Or maybe you did have awesome parents, and you feel a little guilty for being so fortunate (go, thank them!  They did a great service to humanity by raising you well!).

But even if you are the fatherless, orphaned, fostered kid who suddenly has to learn things from scratch, this is one of the very core reasons to stay connected to the Church.  God is a Father to the fatherless, and actually defines pure and undefiled religion as visiting orphans and widows (the fatherless, the divorced, the abandoned) in their distress and keeping ourselves unstained by the world.  (James 1:27).  God set up the body of Christ in such a way that you would find what you’ve always longed for in the family of God.  Trust me.  I know.  I was pretty broken at your age, and trying to learn everything from scratch.


If you wouldn’t mind, I need to take a short rabbit trail.  I promise we’ll weave back to the point.

When I was your age, the internet wasn’t really a thing unless you were a CEO or worked for NASA.  Okay, so I am exaggerating, but only slightly.  Hi-Speed internet was made accessible when I was in my late 20’s.  But first there was Dial-up (Whoop!  Whoop!), where you could read email (and you probably had an AOL account for that), but never in a million years would you think of watching anything like a movie or FB Reel (as if Facebook existed way back in the Dark Ages!), because even if it was only 30 seconds long, it would take 17 minutes to watch due to all the frozen-screen time, and you’d rather keep your sanity, check your AOL account, and get back to real living.  I think I was around 8 or 9 years old when the internet was first introduced into the public schools.  We played a very rudimentary game called “Oregon Trail” that was even more basic than Tetris or PacMan (but you probably don’t know what those are either, do you?).  For the record, I also remember time before cell phones!


Back to the point… We didn’t have Google to inform us when Smiles and I were first starting a family.  We had flesh-and-bones people.  People like Titus 2 tells us to become and to seek out.  Older, wiser people who were ahead of us in the journey… who had raised or were raising kids who were older than our’s, who had learned how to cook, bake, keep a home, work a job, love a spouse, study the Word.  We had the Church acting like the Church.  And these folks weren’t treating us condescendingly by teaching us these things.  They were simply exemplifying them, and we were asking questions.  We were paying attention and watching, while they were inviting us over to dinner and praying with/for us.

In this season of life, I kinda need to be both.  I still need older, wiser saints who teach me how to love like, and walk with, Jesus.  Folks like Tawn, and Phyllis, and Nina, and my own amazing Mom!  I need my Aunt Denny, and Shari Ryan, and Joey, the old lady in the grocery store whose face shone like Moses’ coming down the mountain!  As long as I live, I will long for these older, wiser saints in my life, and when I am too old to have them on earth, I will have them in history books and memories and heaven!

I also need to be that older, wiser saint for others.  I read Titus 2 and it makes me tremble in self-evaluation.  Am I the kind of person who God would want others to emulate, and who would lead them towards piety?  The onus falls on me.  I cannot point the finger in anyone else’s direction, but my own.  The Bible says “Older women likewise are to be…” (Titus 2:3).  Through our examples of holiness, we will naturally encourage younger women to love their families and homes well, to be sensible and pure, and through it all, the Word of God will not be dishonored.

However, like I said at the beginning, there is a disconcerting trend I’d like to address.  The Internet Parenting Gurus.  In my affiliation with your generation, I keep hearing these brand new theories about how to parent well, but what I don’t see is younger women seeking out older women to disciple them.  And honestly, it’s a little scary.  Not only is the unity in the Church suffering for it, and the Word of God being ignored, but you’re also getting bad advice.  The danger of the internet is that it makes anyone who is loud and opinionated sound like an expert.

You, sweet new Mama or Daddy, need to have the benefit of seeing the fruit of someone’s life before you start letting them tell you how you raise your child.  And, as anyone who is paying attention knows, you can make a corner of your house look Pinterest-worthy while the rest is piled with dirty dishes and laundry.  What I mean is, until you’ve seen the ins-and-outs of someone’s actual life, you don’t know if they’re a good parent worth taking advice from!  And if at least some of their kids aren’t grown or mostly grown then you won’t know for sure if their parenting strategies worked out.

In my younger years, I had a lot of mentors!  And they taught me a plethora of things.  Many of them had no idea they were even teaching me because they were focused on their own character development, not mine… and I didn’t always need to ask questions because their wisdom was revealed by how they lived.  But I also did ask questions, sometimes open-ended, like “Can you just give me some good parenting advice right now?”

So, you sweet, wonderful 20-somethings who are trying to figure it all out, I would just like to encourage you: Set aside your computer and ask yourself, “Who are the older, wiser folks in my life, who are now enjoying what I want my future to look like?”  Then go ask them for advice.  And if they say something different than your last Google search, they are probably right.  Because you picked them to be your advisors for a reason, and new “knowledge” isn’t always superior knowledge (just ask Eve).

Space 4/2/24




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