Longing for Love

Many my age and older are dumbfounded by some of the changes we see occurring culturally. Shifts in terminology concerning identity, gender, and others are confusing. The gap between the boomers and millennials and Gen Z is joked about, but it is also played out every day in work places and in homes. The bottom line is we just don’t understand each other.

Technology Has Changed Everything

I’m sure this isn’t a new thing in the annals of history, but I imagine that technology has widened the gap between generations in a way that is unprecedented. Those in the millennial and Gen Z generations have been able to create online worlds that were not available to previous generations. Boomers, while admittedly having a rebellious streak in the 70’s, grew up to carry on the traditions and values of their parents. The family values instilled in them as they grew up laid a foundation that they returned to as they raised their own families. The family had huge shaping power in a child’s life at that time.

With technology now, parents and family are no longer the loudest voice in the children’s ears. Online they can find entire communities tailored to any interest. Especially in homes where children do not feel they are heard or have a voice, this online community is a safe place where they can find love and acceptance. What this means is that these upcoming generations are not finding their values in their families any longer. 

Longing for a Safe Place

However, this isn’t necessarily what they long for. I have worked with youth for my entire adult life as a high school teacher and youth volunteer worker. From my observations, I believe that these kids long for more than anything else is family, but not in the sense of biological connection. They desire family as a place of inclusion and safety. 

I had a troubled childhood and a subsequent desire to create a different home for my own children. Many times the youth that my husband and I worked with expressed a desire to live with us (and some did) because they wanted to be a part of a home where there was love. This desire is the driving force behind the younger generations’ love of specialized groups. In these communities, they find their place and feel accepted and loved. What they do not have at home, they will seek out online. These communities then have the most impact on their values.

Jesus Is Our Role Model

If we want to make an impact on the younger generations, the only way is to create safe communities where people feel safe. While this does not mean that truth is no longer spoken, it is important that it is communicated in the safety of unconditional love. Jesus is a role model for this. He never hesitated to speak the truth, but he also did not withhold himself. Anyone could come into his presence. It wasn’t just those who aligned with his beliefs that were granted access to his person—it was those who sought out love. 

These generations are seeking love and, therefore, they are the perfect candidates for Jesus’s circle of fellowship. They don’t need to fit a specific image to be acceptable either—those in Jesus’s day certainly did not fit the images of a “good” disciple. However, they were changed by being loved by the one who knows all things.

The ideological turmoil we are experiencing is a symptom of this great longing. The longing to belong and to be in a place that makes sense. As disciples of Christ, however, we shouldn’t fight a physical battle whether that’s politically or culturally, trying to create a world that makes sense to us. Instead, we need to be those calling to the ones wandering out on the highways and byways for all who would come to the banquet. And, in our own homes, we need to work to create an environment of love and respect even when those in our lives don’t make sense to us.

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash


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