I thought I knew everything once. Young, quick of tongue, pregnant with opinions and quietly rebellious. Having travelled around the sun a few more times since youth, I see how wrong I was about most things that fuelled my arrogant words.
The mental replays make me cringe. There I am, spouting generalizations and self-righteous words to people I disagreed with, usually from a previous generation. And there they are, lapsing into silence as my avalanche of arguments (about God, church, life…about nearly anything) buried them. I knew it all. I had all the passion. All the heat. And, I was certain, all the right answers.
It took years, and a hard maturing process for me to realize my foolishness. How many opportunities to learn from those older and wiser I forfeited.
As a young woman, I took my turn at supervising the nursery while parents sat in church. One morning, a toddler protested strongly at being separated from his mother. He’s terribly spoiled, I thought. Just needs a firmer hand. Someone to call his bluff.
I ignored his tantrum.
Suddenly the door burst open. In charged Mom, feathers flying. She’d heard the wails and demanded to know why I hadn’t brought her son to her. Out poured my sterling mothering advice. (Having no children, I knew everything.)
As the little guy calmed in her arms, she spoke. “You think he’s behaving like this because I’m a bad parent? You have NO IDEA what makes him insecure. How can you presume to judge me?” Then she walked out. I later learned what contributed to that little boy’s behaviour, a sad story of paternal abandonment.
Strife between generations isn’t new, but it’s worsened lately. Social movements and media have fuelled that, along with to often abused labels—Gen Z, Boomer, Millennial, Gen X, etc. Many parents and grandparents agonize over how to relate to a generation that desperately needs our love and wisdom but blames us for their problems and derides our opinions.
Satan relishes and provokes this generational division. We cooperate with him when we form ranks or simply withdraw and fail to pursue peace. Only dependence on the Holy Spirit will win this battle. God can enable believers of all ages to listen more than speak. To realize that our opinions (or practices) may not be the only ones—or the correct ones.
One of God’s names for himself is the “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”—three distinct generations operating as one. His will is for believers to comprise one holy generation made up of people of all ages, from all eras, united through Christ, who calls us “out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9).
Want to see God moving across our land, bringing light into the darkness of generational divide? Ask him for humility, wisdom, and boldness to tear down walls. Build bridges at home, in our cars, in coffee shops, online and in checkout lines. Let’s reach out in love and compassion to all generations. And for God’s sake, dispense with labels.