by Kenneth Justice
~A couple weeks ago an older grandmother sat down at the table directly next to me with her college-aged granddaughter. For more than an hour the loud-stern voice of the grandmother spilled over onto my table; the older woman had brought the teen out to coffee in order to give her ‘the riot act’ regarding her lifestyle.
Apparently, the teen had taken a year off from college in a quest to ‘find herself’ and this did not fit into the grandmother’s plan for the young woman’s life, “I’ve had enough of your nonchalant attitude missy. You’ve got to take life more seriously and quit all of this silliness, your pissing away your life and I’m not going to stand for it anymore” said the grandmother.
.I’ve actually seen this type of conversation play out numerous times in the past but usually between parents and their children; it always has the same features,
—) The young adult wants to live life more adventurously
—> The parent wants them to take life more seriously
—) The young adult wants to take time off from school to figure things out
—> The parent believes every moment wasted can’t be regained
—-) The young adult feels like the parents are putting them in a ‘box’
—-> The parent feels like the young adult is simply an immature fool
Perhaps I’m simplifying the equation too much….but in many ways I related to the college kid that was being grilled by the grandmother. I understood the young woman’s thirst to have some kind of adventure because there have been so many times in my life when I felt strong desires to do something out-of-the-ordinary….to embrace some kind of crazy experience…..
Yesterday I talked about the simple idea that ‘Your life doesn’t have to be crazy’….but the other side of the equation is that there is nothing wrong if we do live life on the edge at times; there’s nothing wrong if there are moments or even seasons in our lives when things are fast-paced…..our lives don’t have to ‘look like everybody’s else’s!
Growing up in the hardcore conservative Christian culture that I did; this phenomena was perhaps one of the most common occurrences I saw….there was a pressure on children and young adults to conform to a particular standard of behavior to the point of suffocating so many of them.
Professor Mark Noll in his book “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” talks about the way in which Conservative Christian culture scares the young adults from pursuing careers in Hollywood, the fine arts, philosophy, biological research…and other areas of life because Conservative Christian churches tend to condemn their parishioners from behaving in any way that doesn’t fit into their particular mold of behavior.
—-) I have Christian friends who believe watching a PG-13 movie is sinful
—-) I have Christian friends who believe listening to rock-N-roll is sinful
—-) I have Christian friends who believe owning a television is sinful
—-) I have Christian friends who believe that uttering a simple cuss word like ‘damn’ or ‘shit’ is sinful and reprehensible
Too much of the culture I was raised in tries to put everybody into a box, forcing them to talk and act in a certain way……and the truth of the matter is that each of us have to figure out our own lives and sometimes that means our choices are not going to be popular among our parents, grandparents, and extended families….and that is okay.
It’s okay if we make choices that our parents wouldn’t make…because we aren’t our parents. It’s okay if we venture off into the world to figure our lives out….because sometimes that is what we have to do in order to find out who we really are. It’s okay if our lives don’t look like our parents lives; because we are not our parents.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t respect our parents; not at all. We should always to the best of our ability respect our parents and be aware of the sacrifices they made in raising us; but respecting our parents doesn’t mean we have to obey them no matter what they say!
Yesterday a number of readers commented saying, “my life isn’t normal…its always fast paced and crazy”….and that is okay. I wasn’t writing the article yesterday to condemn anyone for living a life ‘outside the box’. Each of us will have different experiences and live different lives…..that is what makes humanity so awesome and incredible…isn’t it?
But just as we need to respect those who want to venture out and have crazy experiences…as I said yesterday; we should never devalue those people whose lives move a little bit more slowly. Each person should be valued for who they are and where they are at in life and if we are going to be mature in our worldview we need to demonstrate grace and patience towards others even when they make decisions that we don’t necessarily agree with them on…..right?
So as I sat there next to the grandmother who was giving her granddaughter ‘a piece of her mind’ I bit my tongue….I was not invited to be apart of the conversation so it was none of my business…..I only hope that the granddaughter finds her way in life and figures out who she is and who she will become….
For now I really need another cup of coffee,