Ways To Make Peace With The Things You Can’t Change

1. You stop assuming what you lose is for the worst. I just realized that I lost my favorite book of all time. I’ve had it for two years. The pages are barely hanging on by threads, and it’s filled with notes and thoughts and underlined sentences and paragraphs. I’m pretty sure I left it in a coffee shop. My friend turned to me today and said: “It’s okay. Somebody who needed it — and your notes — got it. It was time to pass it on, and buy a new one, to highlight the things you didn’t see before.”

2. You stop assuming you know best. Inarguably, I am an idiot when it comes to my own life. I admit to this. I will be the first to laugh and tell you all the ways I’ve screwed up. I have wanted relationships that were objectively terrible for me, questioned the things that were so genuinely best for me it’s perplexing how one could mistake them. I’ve sullied my own happiness with worry, tried to control that which I couldn’t. Of everything, do you know what I’m most grateful for in this world? The fact that it never listened to me and some other force lead me to where I am. I am so grateful I never got what I thought I deserved. It’s the only thing I can bring myself to consider when I similarly believe that I’m wrongfully not getting something I want now.

3. You meditate on impermanence. Maybe not through literal, actual meditation (though that would be great of course) you have to remind yourself that the root of suffering is not just the impermanence of things, but our attachment to the things that are inevitably not going to last. If something isn’t enough for you in the time that you have it — be it a day, a month, a year — it’s never going to be enough. At the end of the day, you can’t keep it forever. You’d be losing it sooner or later. What’s more important is whether or not you appreciated having it in the first place.

4. You consider what you can change externally. Granted, external control is an illusion that will ultimately fail us all; attachment is a river that inevitably runs dry. But sometimes when you’re treading water, you need a little something to hold onto, no matter how temporary it is or mildly delusional you are for it. If there’s something you can externally change about your situation, do so. If there’s something you can say, a line you can draw, an opinion that’s yet to be voiced, go ahead and make sure you’ve exhausted all your options.

5. And then you focus on what you can change internally. I said this once (I don’t remember what article it was in, sorry) and I stand by it: most little things can be solved with a nap, a drink or a long talk with someone who wants to listen, and most big things have to be solved with an inner reconciliation. Allow that of yourself.

6. You face it until it doesn’t hurt anymore. I once heard someone explain our grown up fears as being similar to how we were afraid of the monster in the closet when we were little. All we really have to do is shine a light inside and realize that there’s nothing there. This kind of acknowledgment is different from attaching to it and creating and manifesting it in your life. It is different than holding onto a perception and then making it your reality. This is just acknowledging what is, and saying it out loud again and again and again until it the weight wanes off. Anybody who has done this can tell you how much it eases your heart and chest and soul. Don’t let the nonexistent monsters haunt you because you just don’t want to open the door.

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What Young People Need To Know About Humility

It is a conceit of the young to believe that because something has occurred to them, it is a novel idea, one unknown to previous, plodding generations. This tendency cuts across the board and includes young Christians.

And then they read the classical philosophers… the Church Fathers… the Protestant Reformers… the Enlightenment thinkers… Alexis de Tocqueville and Edmund Burke and The Federalist Papers and Blackstone… Carl F.H. Henry and Herbert Schlossberg and Thomas Oden and Christopher Lasch and Abraham Kuyper and Os Guinness… and biblical exegeses and commentators and historians and scientists whose exacting and exhaustive study open up new vistas of knowledge… and have conversations with serious people who, having reached the age of 40, are a bit more tempered in their approach to life and learning… and real maturity begins.

These comments are more than a bit autobiographical. As a young man (an increasingly distant state of being), my intellectual self-confidence spilled joyously into intellectual pomposity. My mind was a grand world, comprehensive and integrated and satisfied, capable of taking on all comers and informing them of their rightness, wrongness, or simple stupidity.
I am no longer young. Although there are aspects of my youth I miss (supple knees, for example), one I consider with some grief and embarrassment is the intellectual pride I wore as a badge of honor. It was, in reality, a bludgeon of ignorance and injury.

It is good for young people to have strong views, to foster a muscular curiosity, to have opinions of sufficient iron as to sharpen those of their peers. And there’s nothing like the invigoration of intellectual discovery, to grasp something difficult and understand it for the first time, to internalize a great truth or work through a knotty philosophical or theological problem. These things make one feel alive and construct the very lens through which one views life itself.
Yet in our time, the advent of the internet has enabled myriad bright young people, including bright young Christians, to opine with both dogmatism and profligacy. Had the Internet been around when I was in my 20s, no doubt I would have been one of the blogosphere’s chief users – and offenders.
All Christians can rejoice in the many young believers who are writing so thoughtfully and with such art and frequency. Many young men and women I know are using the web to advance critically important arguments in fresh and clever ways.
Christian faith is blessed by young men and women like these. Older Christians should rejoice that the Lord is raising them up and be sufficiently humble to learn from them. Holding younger Christians in contempt simply because they are young is expressly forbidden by the Word of God (I Timothy 4:12). Such contempt is as much a form of pride as any other kind. Like the corpse of dead Lazarus, it stinks.
My caution is only that in an era when so much is at stake in our culture, and when so many young Christians have been cruelly wounded by the brokenness of their families and the excesses of past sin, younger believers not forget that although their voices are new, the truths they proclaim and issues with which they wrestle are not.
Humility and servanthood are terms I dislike, because I’m so bad at applying them to my own life. Yet one’s utility to the Prince of Life is only as extensive as one’s humility and servant attitude. This does not mean that we cannot be confident in proclaiming the truth; rather, it means we bear always in mind that the truth is His, not ours, and that the ministries we occupy are for Jesus’s sake, not our own.
Charles Spurgeon wrote of his own pride that “it is a miserable, wretched affair.” This echoes in the very heart of my own heart. It should for all Christ-followers. Young, middle-aged, or old, let’s remember that intellectual pride is rank in the nostrils of God, and keep remembering that until the day we see our Redeemer, One Who though existing in the very form of God humbled Himself to the point of dying on an instrument of debasement and cruelty, a wooden cross.
If we want to be worthy servants of the King, whether we are emerging or retiring, let’s begin at, and keep returning to, these eternal truths.

Are We Over- Protecting Our Children?

This post was first posted on Breakpoint.

Maybe you’ve heard that phrase “killing them with kindness”? According to some, that may be what our culture is doing to today’s college students, at least psychologically.

Peter Gray, a research professor at Boston College, sees what he calls “declining student resilience.” At one major university, “emergency calls to counseling had more than doubled over the past five years. Students are increasingly seeking help for, and apparently having emotional crises over, problems of everyday life.”

Gray said that one student felt traumatized because her roommate had called her a nasty name. Two others sought counseling because they’d seen a mouse in their off-campus apartment. They called the police, who, he says, “kindly arrived and set a mousetrap for them.” The Atlantic calls this kind of thing “the coddling of the American mind.”

Many of these emotionally stunted students can’t handle a bad grade, and their professors live in fear of negative student reviews or lawsuits. Or as one director of counseling said, “There has been … a decrease in the ability of many young people to manage the everyday bumps in the road of life.”

What’s going on? Dan Jones, the past president of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, points at parents, saying, “[Students] haven’t developed skills in how to soothe themselves, because their parents have solved all their problems and removed the obstacles. They don’t seem to have as much grit as previous generations.”

In other words, there’s been way too much helicopter parenting!

Cameron Cole, a youth pastor in Alabama, knows that overly protecting our kids isn’t biblical. Pain, after all, is part of spiritual growth. “On Jesus’s way to redeeming the world he encountered betrayal, injustice, torture, violence, condemnation, imprisonment, and alienation,” Cole writes. “How deluded I am when I think an alternate path exists for my child’s ‘hoped for’ service to God’s kingdom. He will not wear the crown … unless he bears a cross.”

Too many kids take the easy path, which is the only path they’ve ever known. They’re afraid to fail so they avoid risk at all costs. But our faith teaches us risky obedience to God, knowing He’s in control.

I’m reminded of this point every time I speak with my friend Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of imprisoned pastor Saeed. Jesus said, “I’m with you always.” And let’s not forget, “Nothing shall be impossible.” So let’s share this bracing perspective with our sons and daughters, and live by it.

And let’s not forget that college students in former generations followed this God of the impossible. In 1886, Dwight L. Moody presided over a meeting of 251 college students in Massachusetts. They came from all over the country, and eventually an interest grew in foreign missions. As ChristianHistory.net reports, one of the students, Robert Wilder, organized a meeting for all of those interested in missions, and 21 young people showed up. He later wrote, “Seldom have I seen an audience under the sway of God’s Spirit as it was that night. The delegates withdrew to their rooms or went out under the great trees to wait on God for guidance.”

When the conference was over, 100 students had committed themselves to become overseas missionaries. It was the start of a movement that saw tens of thousands of people carry the gospel around the globe. Is such a passion still conceivable for us?

Yes! But the key is what I learned in my years of teaching teens and college students: Remove the bubble wrap. And like Moody, encourage them toward a God-sized vision for their lives. Help them see their giftedness and how it relates to the needs in their world, so that they can pursue their role in God’s restoration of all things under the lordship of Christ.
And as their leaders, parents, and mentors we need to give them permission to try . . . and room to fail.

Source: Breakpoint

Kids These Days: Generation Z Most Conservative Since WWII

Around the world.

Kids These Days: Generation Z

For at least a decade, Millennials have been stereotyped as lazy, entitled, and stuck on social media. In Nigeria, our President had already tagged us to be lazy youths with no ambition. While that may not be entirely fair, they are notoriously liberal, overwhelmingly supporting left-leaning candidates and favoring policies like nationalized healthcare and same-sex “marriage.”

But Millennials are also getting old—relatively speaking. The first are now reaching the ripe old age of thirty-five! And sometime between 1995 and 2000, the millennial generation ended, or at least stopped being born, and a new generation began.

Members of “Generation Z” are now beginning to graduate high school, and 2016 was the first time any of them were old enough to vote. At seventy million and counting, they’re also about to outnumber their predecessors.

So, what’s so intriguing about this new brood? Well, according to a growing body of research, they may be, by certain measures, the most conservative generation since World War II—more than Millennials, Generation Xers and even the Baby-Boomers.

Millennials were raised in a time of roaring prosperity, when video cassettes were a bigger influence than digital technology, and many came of age before the age of radical Islamic terror. Gen Z kids, by contrast, are “digital natives.” They’ve never known life without the Internet, and have grown up surrounded by instant access to the world’s harsh realities on their smart phones.

These young people are products of conflict and recession. They can only remember a news cycle “marred by economic stress, rising student debt… and war overseas.” As a result, they’ve taken on what one team of Goldman-Sachs analysts called a “more pragmatic” and conservative outlook on the world.

Of course, generalizations at this stage are very early and very subject to development.

And get this: According to one British study conducted by global consultancy firm, The Guild, almost sixty percent of Gen Z respondents in the U.K. described their views on “same-sex marriage, transgender rights and marijuana legalization” as “conservative” or “moderate,” compared with a whopping 83% of Millennials who called themselves “quite” or “very liberal” on these issues. The Gen Z participants were even ten times more likely than Millennials to dislike tattoos and body piercings!

These are good trends, but these students still need discipleship and catechesis. A tendency toward traditional values, by itself, means nothing unless those who believe in revealed Truth, the Gospel, the natural family, and political and religious liberty step forward and train the next generation to articulate and live out these truths.

What is clear from this emerging data about the young is that they don’t fit neatly into rhetoric about the “right side of history.” As Columbia University sociologist, Musa Al-Gharbi writes, trends like this are deeply troubling for those so recently crowing that the future belonged to one political party.

No one knows what the future holds, except the One Who holds the future! And the fact that so many were apparently wrong about the right side of history is just another reminder that He alone is God, Whom the Psalmist called “faithful throughout all generations.”