Published 21 May 2019
We Millennials have grown up in a very different world than the one our parents grew up in. Because life is so different, some assumptions have crept into our generation’s belief systems that are just plain untrue and unhelpful. This article summarises some of the main ones I’ve noticed recently – some of them I even believed myself; our parents would probably think they’re very obvious fundamentals….but I think many of us in our teens and twenties might be surprised by some of these!
MYTH #1: CERTAIN THINGS & CERTAIN PEOPLE DETERMINE MY VALUE
In a world where social media is at the heart of pretty much everything we do, our lives are on constant public display. The flip side of that is that we also have a window into the lives of so many other people. The problem is that these windows are not clear glass – they are filters!
Most of us only post the interesting stuff: announcing major life events, statuses that are funny/profound, photos we look good in, videos that show the most fun parts of our lives…we end up seeing everyone at their very best – and we compare ourselves to our friends and assume that they have these perfect lives that, in reality, are simply unattainable.
Our personal value is not in the number of likes we get on Facebook, our followers on Twitter, the popular people we’re photographed with on Instagram or even our Twitter followers! It might sound obvious, but our value does not lie in our social status, achievements, appearance or possessions. These things are temporary. You see, everything we have is a gift from God – and He could easily have given you more or less of any of your qualities/possessions if it would have been best for you. But he didn’t. He knows what is best for each of us (Psalm 23:3) and that is why He made you the way He has and given you what you have – no more and no less.
Even our own past does not determine our value. In accepting Jesus’ gift of forgiveness, we were made innocent – our passed sins and failures do not even exist any more because He wiped them away (Psalm 103:12)!
Your value is infinite. The Almighty God, Creator of everything seen and unseen, loved you so much – more than words can express – that He gave up His own life just so He could be with you – forever (John 3:16). To Him, your life has equal value to His own. Nothing will ever change that. Getting your sense of self-worth from anything/anyone else would be stupid.
MYTH #2: MY LIFE IS FOR ME TO JUST ENJOY
The bible says that in the last days, people will be ‘lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God’ (2 Timothy 3:1-4). Doesn’t that basically sum up today’s society? We might actually just think that is normal because we know no different – but society hasn’t always been this way.
Without God, life has no real purpose. ‘YOLO’ (cringe) speaks volumes about modern society: the predominant perspective today is that life is about 70 years long and it only happens once…so we better just enjoy it while it’s here. Wrong! Life is much longer than 70 years: we are eternal beings; our earthly life is just the ‘intro’.
As Christians, we have the rest of forever to party in heaven and it is only when we get there that we will ever be fully satisfied. Life on Earth will be a struggle – and Jesus said it would be (John 16:33). So, as Christians, our purpose in life on Earth cannot be just to enjoy ourselves.
We were made for a relationship with God. That is our purpose. We are here for Him; our aim must be to make Him happy. But it’s great to know that He also wants the best for us too! And what He can do for us is so much more than we could ever do for Him. When we do what pleases Him, He blesses us (2 Samuel 2:30)!
MYTH #3: I SHOULD FOLLOW MY HEART
Society these days is obsessed with feelings. Our media are totally fixated on them: pop songs are loaded with lyrics that glorify positive feelings & sensations, interviewers ask winning sportspeople/celebrities ‘how does it feel?’ all the time, movies subtly convey messages to ‘do what your heart tells you’ and Facebook statuses now have a box dedicated to emotions.
The fact is that feelings change – even if our environment doesn’t. We all have our days when we’re ‘just not feeling it’ and we’re moody for no real reason. And our feelings are often really deceptive; they can make tricky situations seem completely impossible, upsetting events seem utterly devastating and minor irritations seem totally infuriating. Feelings are not to be trusted. Basing our decisions purely on feelings is never a good idea.
As Christians, we know for certain that our future is filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11) and that everything is going to work out for our good (Romans 8:28)! So viewing our circumstances through the lens of our emotions and sensations is pointless – and can really rob us of our joy and peace. All things are possible through Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13) even when we don’t feel up to it. Some days may be so bad you have no idea how you’ll face tomorrow – but His grace is sufficient for you…he’ll give you strength for tomorrow when tomorrow comes.
MYTH #4: TIME & EFFORT HAVE NO PLACE IN MODERN LIFE
This might sound like a really obvious myth to your logical self – but putting in time and effort isn’t something that we are really used to in the modern day because society has become highly geared towards convenience in the last couple of decades.
If I’m in China and I want to talk to a friend back home, I can get them on Skype within seconds. If I want to listen to a particular song, I can pull it up on YouTube almost instantly. If I’m hungry and don’t have food in the house, I can get a Chinese delivered within the hour. If I’ve got a symptom I’m concerned about, NHS Choices can answer my questions within minutes. If I wake up in the middle of the night and fancy flying to Málaga tomorrow, EasyJet can sort it in a few clicks…you get the idea: tasks that once took planning, time and dedication are now an absolute breeze.
All these things are so rapid and virtually effortless. I’m not saying this is bad; I’d really struggle if I had to go back and do life the old way! What I am saying is that we need to be careful that our expectation for rapid results does not seep into every area of our lives: some things will take time and effort – and expecting otherwise can be damaging.
Before I give you some examples, allow me one more analogy. When our phones/laptops/iPods/etc. get broken, slow or even just outdated, we bin them and buy new ones. While our grandparents might have repaired their worn/torn shirts, our generation are far more likely to just buy replacements. We just don’t put in the time and effort.
We all do this – so I definitely don’t judge you for it. But there are many things in life that absolutely deserve our time and effort. For example, our relationships. Married couples these days tend to have far too high an expectation for their married lives – and when their relationship goes through a rough patch (as every relationship does), they bin the marriage and look for a new one. The concept of repairing a broken relationship is is often pretty alien.
In a similar vein, our relationship with God is also something to which we must apply time and effort. A quick prayer before an interview and a monthly attendance to church is not a real commitment to a relationship with God. Those kinds of relationships are not at all fulfilling to either party.
MYTH #5: PERFECTION IS SOMETHING TO BE PURSUED
Again, it sounds obvious – but think about it: every day we are bombarded with adverts, films and headlines that paint images of perfection. Models’ faces and bodies are always airbrushed, shop floor manikins have superhuman proportions and the media announce celebrities’ earth-shattering achievements for the world to hear. It can all leave us feeling pretty inferior and inadequate.
But we must remember that these standards are unachievable – but that’s okay because God made you as you are and He couldn’t possibly love you more….even if you did win a Nobel Prize, model for Emporio Armani and own a house in Monaco.
But we can look forward to a time when we will be perfect. In heaven we will have new bodies. Those bodies will not get sick. They will never experience sadness, pain or fear. And they will never die (Revelation 21:4). The bodies we have right now are only temporary – so while it’s good to keep fit and healthy while we’re here, it is not the be-all-and-end-all. Trying to achieve perfection in these bodies will never satisfy us because it is futile and impossible to attain.
MYTH #6: COMMITTING MYSELF = LIMITING MYSELF. ALWAYS.
We’ve all done it. Those Facebook Event Invitations….we don’t respond until the day of the event just in case a better offer comes up. I’ve done it. You’ve probably done it. There. We’ve said it. We’re a pretty non-committal generation.
This isn’t a major issue in itself – although it’s pretty irritating for event hosts (believe me). But it does highlight a problem with our culture. Our generation hates to commit to anything.
The number of times we see A-level students end it with their boyfriend/girlfriend before starting uni is unreal. They don’t want to be tied down to a particular girl/guy while at uni in case they find someone better when they’re there. So many people consider the idea of marrying their boyfriend/girlfriend to be a crazy idea – they couldn’t stand the idea of committing themselves to one person for life. They consider commitment to be a massive limitation.
But actually, with certain things (like relationships), being non-committal can actually be more limiting. Committing yourself to another person entirely is the foundation of a meaningful and satisfying relationship. In staying in a long-term relationship with someone but dismissing the idea of committing to the another in marriage, you’re kind if close to saying ‘I quite like you and all that you add to my life, but I’m still not convinced you’re the best I can get’ – does that sound like a happy and fulfilling relationship to be in? Not really. It’s limited by the lack of commitment and really questions whether the match was right in the first place.
I’m not saying that we should be more committed to everything and everyone. But I am saying that there are some things worth committing to.
MYTH #7: I NEED TO KEEP EVERYONE HAPPY
In terms of choosing who to please with our lives (words, actions, life decisions), our priority can be either God or people – it’s one or the other. I’m not saying that aspects of our lives can never be pleasing to both God and people….what I’m saying is that our priority lies with one or the other.
In a world that has largely ignored God, people are becoming increasingly intent on pleasing one another rather than God. Their sense of value and self-worth lies in their popularity – so they are effectively controlled by anyone and everyone around them & are constantly concerned for their own reputation. In seeking everyone’s approval, they are fighting a losing battle. Even Jesus, the perfect man, did not please everyone – so it is pointless for us to even try!
People are difficult to please; their preferences change over time, they get jealous, everyone has different tastes and ideals…and very rarely will you find anyone who truly has your best interests at heart.
God, on the other hand, does not change (Hebrews 13:8); He loves you anyway, He wants what’s best for you and He will never misunderstand you.
As Christians, we must focus our lives on pleasing God, tackling the pride that our people-pleasing ‘approval-junkie’ attitudes are rooted in. To do this, we must dedicate our lives to serving God by serving others with a selfless heart.