So. There have been a lot of conversations to which I've been a party that have focused on generational, cultural differences among believers. I trust or hope that it's not only me that sees interactions between the generations as sometimes strained and at least not ideal.
There's just not a lot of understanding going on, I believe on either side of the line. Or even a desire to understand. Young people think the grown ups just don't want to "get them," and I think the grown ups think the young people are just rebellious. I think, personally, that this is a travesty that is keeping the Church from reaching her full potential.
Beloved young ones, we NEED our elders. Who else can we learn from - what to do as well as what not to do? We stand on their shoulders. It was never God's intention that each generation start over again. That's also just a dumb idea. We need to know what we will face as we grow up and older. We need examples. We need idea springboards. We need, occasionally, a good dose of practicality. We need them.
Beloved wise ones, you NEED young bloods. You need their alternate way of viewing things. You need the another perspective on how to do things. You need ideas that may not have occurred to you. You need to remember that the Church does not belong to you, even though you may have spent the majority of your lives sacrificing for her. You need us.
What I want to see, desperately, are young people submitting to older people. And I desperately want to see older people respecting and validating younger people.
For me, recently, this has come up in the area of tattoos. Yes, I have five tattoos. I got three of them before I was a believer, but I really love having permanent reminders of things I've gone through and things I know I'll always believe in. I love taking art with me on my body. It's okay if you don't. It's okay if I do. I have listened to the Lord about it, and for me, I honestly believe He's okay with it.
Most of all, I love the conversations that start that would never have come into being without having "ink." College kids will (gasp!) turn off their ipods to ask me what my tattoo means. It's AWESOME! It's so hard to get strangers to talk to you nowadays. Not kidding, grown ups. It's not like it was on campus 20 years ago. or even 10.
People always ask me about my tattoo on my wrist. It says "fraternite'" (sorry for the lack of accents in Blogger), which roughly means "brotherhood." I love it because, when I shake hands with people, I'm reminded that really, we're siblings. I should love them like I love my brother and my siblings in law. They're frikkin important to me. But it's not about Jesus, or not really. I want a tattoo people can see that will lead me right into a conversation about the living God. I want it so badly I'm willing to pay money to undergo pain for it.
It's not for the attention. Or not in the way it seems older people may think.
It's not so I can look cool or tough.
It's not so people will think I'm hip or rebellious or attractive or anything else.
It's a fantastic tool to promote daily doses of evangelism. And it's gonna be PRETTY! :) :) :)
But it does put me at a loss as to what to do. Does it cause the older ones to stumble if I get another tattoo in a visible place? Paul became all things to all people for the sake of the Gospel. But I'm primarily reaching out to young people, and not empty-nesters. What do I do that's honoring without cowing down? Seriously, what do I do?