What’s the answer to millennial fears? Trusting Jesus.

Photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash

Life is a series of decisions, and we millennials are having trouble making them. Part of the problem, I believe, is the contraceptive culture we inhabit. The introduction of the Pill in 1960 pushed forward the falsehood that we can have control of the unknown future and need only be open to life at the “perfect” time—after the degree, the dream vacation, the down payment on the house. But the weeds of this empty promise have spread far outside the bedroom.

Today, we live in a culture of fear that feeds the dark “what ifs” deep in our minds, the insecurities, the unknowns. What if having another child means a more chaotic home life? What if not making enough money strains our marriage? What if I fail at the job I am pursuing?

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While we millennials are unfairly blamed for any number of social ills, there is one stereotype that strikes me as uncomfortably true: My generation is indecisive. Take a look at Exhibit A, delayed marriage rates. In 1990, the year I was born, 44 percent of young adults aged 18 to 34 were married. By 2016, that number had dived down to 26 percent. The stunning statistics do not stop there. The U.S. fertility rate is also at an historic low. The hesitation to embrace the gift of marriage and life strike at the family and, I believe, stems from fear of what the future holds.

Today, we live in a culture of fear that feeds the dark “what ifs” deep in our minds, the insecurities, the unknowns.

I understand well the “what ifs” that can plague and paralyze the mind. I come from three generations of divorce myself, and during my recent engagement period, many of my fears surrounding marriage came to the surface. What if you repeat the pattern? What if you are not happy? What if you discerned wrong? But now, on the other side of giving my “yes,” peace shines through.

My husband recently shared a quote that resonated with me, and I would like to pass it along. I especially want to encourage my fellow millennial Catholics to sit and pray with it for a while. The quote is from St. Francis de Sales, found in the book Consoling Thoughts: On Trials of an Interior Life:

It is not those who commit the least number of faults who are the most holy, but those who have the greatest courage, the greatest generosity, the greatest love, who make the boldest efforts to overcome themselves, and are not immoderately apprehensive of tripping, or even of failing and being dirtied a little, provided they advance.

We are designed to be great saints. But we will never get there if we make our perpetual-discernment-bubble our safe space for fear of making a false step. To be a disciple, you must be a decision-maker. When Jesus called Matthew, the tax collector did not respond, “Can you wait until I make a pros-and-cons list first?” No, “he got up and followed him.” (Mt 9:9). Matthew responded with an immediacy we should imitate today.

This is not all meant to downplay the importance of discernment; I hope to emphasize it. It is important to frequent the sacraments, to seek a spiritual advisor and if you are engaged, to find a mentor couple. The closer you are to Christ, the more confidently you can trust your instincts. But prudence is not holding back—it is discerning how to best move forward.

Do not be afraid of the unknown future parts of life. You will inevitably fall, but trust in God and your ability to discern. Because in a world that glorifies “choice,” we would be better off to start making some decisions.

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John Mack
3 months 2 weeks ago

What if millennials really are straddled with bi debt? What if income equality is real and getting worse. What if jobs are scarce or non fulfilling, grineds? What if the Catholic cjurch is utterly corrupt? What if corporations always lie in the interests of more and more profit? What if rents are too high, and home prices? What if US Christians want to destroy the FDR reforms? What if Jesus hasn't delivered? What if sweeping aside real problems with "Jesus saves" is insulting?

John Mack
3 months 2 weeks ago

What is global warming and climate change are real, the what will the world be like for the children and grandchildren of today's millennials? and this administration is adding to our pollution problem? What if this adminsitration is making pollution worse and the Republicans are making steady progress in tgeir dtermination to giut Soocial Security. What is if white Catholics are all for voting in politicians who deny global warming, promote pollution, deny people health care, despise the poor, worship the wealthy and their donations? What if the "feel goood" Jesus actually approves of all this? Or if the feel good Jesus doesn't care about all this? Actually, I'nve heard catholic priest say that God intervened in making trump President, so it looks like the feel good Jesus does approve of all these policies.

Phillip Stone
3 months 2 weeks ago

Well, here is one point of view from a man born in the middle of a world war and a absent father fighting in the jungle against Japanese soldiers sent by their emperor to crush and enslave us. Who lived through the Cold War where every morning awakening was a surprise to find the earth had not been totally destroyed in the night. Who has worked as a doctor for more than 50 years amongst the poor at home and abroad in three active war zones and is still working yet!
Climate change is real, natural and nothing to do with human beings. Fact! Truth!
Pollution is real and is certainly within the power of people to minimise, two different things. Carbon dioxide is a plant food, not a pollutant, and the slight increase in it is already causing the greening of planet Earth, an increase caused by slight temperature rise, not the other way around. Forests are growing into desert lands and crop yields increasing. In my lifetime, the poor have gone from 50% starving to 15% at latest count, I call that improvement.

Social security is a socialist trap, charity works much better and discerns between needy people and parasites.

Jesus Christ needs no defending, particularly from the whining of snowflakes, and he loves them too.

Phillip Stone
3 months 2 weeks ago

OK, you are steeped in the putrid world view of cultural Marxism and consequently you are cynical and pessimistic and very angry.
Money is an invention of human beings and once there was no money anywhere in the world and there were human being surviving and thriving. So much so that they produced, harvested, gathered, made and invented more than satisfied their own and their cherished ones' needs and had surplus to exchange for stuff they wanted.
Eventually this grew into tokens of exchange enabling time-delayed debt to facilitate more trade and commerce.

Human effort, ingenuity and natures resources combined to CREATE wealth. It does not just fall out of trees.
There is no magic pudding! If you are American in the 21st century you have more stuff and eat better than most kings and princes have ever done in all of history and are safer from attack, accident and disease than ever in history. You have been offered the wisdom of humankind on the end of an electronic pipe richer than most of the geniuses of history has possessed.

Get over it. Move to where there is work or start business yourself; there is equal opportunity so forget the nonsense of equal outcomes for any or no work; get your face out of the glowing screen and look into the real world; businesses and companies and enterprises have enormously grown wealth and the benefits gained by it long before you were born and you might be grateful for the legacy your forebears endowed you.

If only more US Christians advocated beneficial change, FDR did overall harm, not good - why not try and read someone who is expert on economies and societies, an African American born and raised in Harlem called Thomas Sowell - there is plenty of his wisdom on Youtube and is worth its weight in gold.

For that matter, try and grow a backbone by looking at some of the Youtube offerings of Jordan Peterson - he has words of wisdom and hope for males particularly and I am in no doubt that he is one of the instruments of God.

Michael Jelavich
3 months 1 week ago

Amen and thank you. I'm reminded of Pope St. John Paul II saying repeatedly to "not be afraid" to love, to act, and to witness.
How many of us could be the change needed if we only committed to the Golden Rule at all time?

Rosemari Zagarri Prof
3 months ago

The author offers no evidence that young people's later age at marriage is a result of more sexual freedom or of a "contraceptive culture" of choice. This is a simplistic canard that conservatives like to use in attacking the supposed evils of modern society. One can equally well argue that young people today delay marriage because they are more responsible and have a more realistic understanding of the complexities of marriage than previous generations did. God wants our trust--but God also expects us to make fully informed, well-considered decisions. The right choice is especially important for Catholics. Catholics know that if they do make the wrong choice, and get divorced, they will then face the scathing contempt of their conservative co-religionists.

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