Dishwashers in the Revolution

Actively bringing about much needed change in our communities and hope to the broken and disheartened.

A Break from Brides, Babies, and Baking

If you’re roughly my age (mid-twenties) and you have any friends – your FB and Twitter feeds are full of young couples getting married, or maybe having babies…even young mom’s filling everybody in on what they made their little families for dinner. Props to all of those in that stage of life right now. I’m happy for you – really I am. But then there are the rest of us…people like me. That’s what this post is about.

Growing up a Christian, I always suspected I would follow that ever-so-right Christian path and be married before I got out of college. I’d be working as a youth pastor somewhere, making babies with a smokin hot wife that was way out of my league but didn’t know any better because we both went to a small enough Christian University that her choices were limited at best and a graying, balding, sorta chubby guy who reminded her of her father who pastored a mega-church seemed like the best option available…it would be the soul-patch that would win her in the end (ya know, it gives off that look of being “in touch” with the culture). But all joking aside, I seriously thought my life would be on a much different path at this juncture. But here I am, on the other side of those Instagram pictures, wondering what I’ll name my first baby…whenever I have it…maybe my 30’s.

It seems to me like all of those people who are married and having kids and are living that life that I thought I would have live in these bubbles where all is well with the world. I feel like at least half of these people are in some sort of ministry – whether it be youth ministry or missionaries or post hole diggers for Jesus…something. It always seems from a distance like they have their shit figured out…

oops, i said a swear. Now you know it’s all downhill from here.

But if those couples are anything like the rest of the people I interact with who are at my life-stage, they probably are experiencing the same kind of doubts and struggles and confusion in life and spirituality that I am. They can just hide it better behind their children with their cool hipster future generation names like “Napster” and “InstaBilly.”

My whole world is seriously up in the air. I have no idea about anything. Faith, career, relationships, family…I have no solid plans. I have no direction I’m clearly walking in. And ya know, I’m not the only one. I’ve talked to so many young adults who are going through the same thing that I am. Nobody seems to have their shit together right now. We’re all going to counselors because we’re all screwed up somehow by our pasts of by unmet expectations or whatever. Ultimately, I’m sure most of the older adults who may or may not read this will say something along the lines of: “Your twenties are supposed to be a time where you figure things out!” The only thing is this…why is it that most of the people struggling feel like they have to be so quiet about it? Why is it that I have to pay a counselor to  talk to me about my questions and my doubts because no one else is around to walk with me through these growing pains?

I mean, church stats will tell you that the most “un-churched” generations are those from 18-30 or something around there. I used to want to be a “young adults pastor”…whatever the hell that means…because I wanted to reach people my own age who didn’t have their shit together like I thought I did. It turns out the reason that we young adults are the most unchurched people is because right now, during this stage of life, we are unwilling to just live life in mediocrity. We feel passionately, we strive for meaning and for purpose and want to give our energy to something that will make a difference to the world. Roll into any church – is any church doing that? Nope. They say they are but I’m calling bullshit on that notion right now. Look at these church buildings! Look at these sound systems! Look at the cool guy with the paisley shirt and ripped jeans with a soul patch and cool hair and tell me that the church is geared toward people my age…it’s not. Church is for those people who have kids, probably toddlers, and who want their kids to grow up knowing about God…but they don’t want to have to deal with their kids while they are trying to sing songs by Chris Tomlin and listening to their pastor talk about the 7 new things the Bible has to say about their church’s “stewardship plan” so they want a church that has a killer kids program and tons of stuff that will keep their kids entertained for the hour that they get to be in the “sanctuary” doing “spiritual stuff.”

If somehow I’m supposed to want to get involved in that…or even volunteer my time to be a free babysitter for parents because I’m young and have energy and should use my “gifts” for God by “serving” in the nursery…passsssssss.

Young people…are we supposed to be ashamed of our doubts? Of our searching? Of wanting to experience God in some different way and being tired of being looked down upon by “church” people for not being involved…for trying to figure life out and yes, making lots of mistakes along the way? My life looks “unchristian” because I swore a couple of times and I don’t go to church and I go out to hang with my friends at bars on the weekends every now and again…but I can say at least I know I’m living life sincerly to the way I feel on the inside, rather than just doing what’s expected of me by people I don’t care to impress any longer.

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4 comments on “A Break from Brides, Babies, and Baking

  1. Tim
    September 12, 2012

    Wow. Great post. I feel like I share a kindred spirit. I only wish I had a counselor: that sounds nice.

  2. Elaine
    September 13, 2012

    I would like to give a standing ovation, as this is where I feel my life is as well, except I am staring 30 square in the eye and feel even more pressure to have my own life figured out. My 2 best friends are married and pregnant, and I have had to move on to find a new group of friends that I can identify with. Its been an interesting year to say the least. I feel you Ryan, this isn’t an easy place to be but I’m glad someone’s talking about it.
    What I am starting to embrace is the broken mold from the “what we’re supposed to be” as Christians-the married with 3 kids by now…you know what? Screw that. Where in the bible does it say thats what I’m supposed to have? Its something we made up and I’m bucking the system. I am who I was made and need not to follow in everyone elses footsteps. I just wish I was a little more confident about it…

  3. wes fleming
    September 13, 2012

    I’m grateful for this blog because it resonates with my ongoing angst regarding church work. Gosh darn it all, why can’t we just love people? My wife and I just said these words last week. I’m past the hyper church growth agenda that by nature tends to sacrifice a more healing environment but even faith communities that try to be honest, real, and relational face challenges. Yep, people first. But how do you provide a safe place for people to “reveal and heal” and not have some agenda (an agenda to be heard, perhaps), expectations/rules (thou shall not gossip about others), and some form of structure (where to we meet and who will turn off the lights). Even coffee shop churches (mmmm espresso and Jesus, two of my favorite things) need someone to make good coffee–hence expectation, evaluation, performance, oversight (a few of my least favorite things.) Arg. QUESTION: How do you manage what seems to be a necessary tension between boundaries and freedom, expectations and permission to be your ol’ messed up self.
    And speaking of expectations… No doubt our church culture places unspoken expectations on 20 somethings: “get a haircut and get a real job, and then get married and have babies in that order.” But can I open this up without minimizing your pain? I continue to live as a slave to a sick list of “should- be’s,” “supposed-to-be’s,” and “ought-to-be’s” as a 50 something. Not so much because of the expectations of others but my own wounded “need to be.” Jesus died for all my “musts, shoulds, oughts” and someday I hope to believe it fully. P.S. I am shaving my soul patch. Great seeing you today Ryan! You are a good writer.

  4. Bradley Fleming
    September 17, 2012

    Ryan, once again, I applaud you for being raw, genuine and honest. You’re asking the right questions. I see so much similarity between us and so much I want to say having 10 years experience on you and walking through that same path myself.

    But the only thing that I want to say is keep writing, keep seeking and keep loving. The worlds expectations vs God’s plans are rarely ever the same it seems.

    All I know is that when I accepted Christ at 29, my heart’s desires changed…my life turned upside down…success as the world saw it went belly-up, and i was humbled for years beyond what i could imagine. And remember I grew up the All-american kid: president of my youth group, co-capt baseball, first chair saxophone, 4.0, headed for Annopolis. Dude, life happens…we run away, we ask questions, we get angry over the lies we believed, the hypocrisy we see. But in the end, Christ wins! Love wins over us.

    So stay encouraged…you are not alone!

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This entry was posted on September 12, 2012 by in Ryan's Posts and tagged , , , .
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