“I don’t always want to be the one making all the effort!” A Senior Adult said to a volunteer. Likewise, that volunteer met a 20-year old who bemoaned, “Why am I always inviting, but never being invited?” A handshake used to mean something. Someone’s word was guaranteed. In the last several years, friendship and commitment have undergone drastic changes. In The Golden Age of Bailing, the author talks about how society has lost something precious.
“It’s clear we’re living in a golden age of bailing. All across America people are deciding on Monday that it would be really fantastic to go grab a drink with X on Thursday. But then when Thursday actually rolls around they realize it would actually be more fantastic to go home, flop on the bed and watch Carpool Karaoke videos. So they send the bailing text or email: “So sorry! I’m gonna have to flake on drinks tonight. Overwhelmed. My grandmother just got bubonic plague.…””
In this article the author goes on to explain the different parts of bailing. The smart phone is the scapegoat at the end, training us to view a social commitment as, “a disposable Post-it note.” Bailing crosses both older and younger generations, with or without a smart phone. Both do not understand that human beings need deeper friendships (and as someone told this writer, “shared human experiences.”).
Someone has to take the first step though.
When I think of the stories in the Bible, I see Jesus constantly reaching out. He invested in His disciples. He took the time to train them for ministry. Jesus walked about three thousand miles (give or take) to reach an unloving world. He invested time in people. We have an opportunity to go beyond the “like” on social media and converse. We have access to so many tools from chat to “face-to-face” (or video chat). Virtual Reality will soon make face-to-face even more possible. Both the older person and the 20-year old in the conversation shared a need to belong, to be accepted, and to be loved.
Relationships are a two-way street, but if we recall how God pursued us, wouldn’t an investment of time in someone be wise? Our culture needs the wisdom and leadership of our Senior Adults. Our Senior Adults need the youthfulness and energy a younger person brings. Some relationships (boundaries aside) take more time to develop. The church should stop thinking of the traditional church walls and starting thinking missionally how to reach across the generational divide.
In Raising an Esther in a Miley Cyrus World, the author writes,
Surround her with a tribe of strong, positive mentors. She needs positive role models, women who are doing great things in our world. But she also needs real mentors, women she can do life with. Give them to her. Surround her with beautiful women from all walks…..grandmas, teens, young women, mothers, aunts, friends. Women who live like they are priceless and can feed her truths about what it means to be strong and beautiful and confident.
Listen…don’t wait for them to come to you. You know what it feels like to be excluded, be inclusive. You know what it feels like to not have a need met by society, be that need for someone else. Share your faith in a relationship. Don’t just drop the Bible bomb and go on to the next person. If we teach that people have value, we need to show it with our time.
Keep your commitments even when you don’t feel like it and would rather watch carpool karaoke videos instead.