The viaduct a block from my house has been closed until mid-October which means we can neither drive nor walk our usual path.
This closure divides our little village, cutting off local businesses, the fire department, schools, and – mainly – a primary road. My side of the literal tracks can drive all the way around Homewood to the north and Olympia Fields to the south to get where we want to go, but what used to be a quick trip to the bank, for example, now takes twenty minutes. Err.
First world problem, to be sure. But it reminds me of life’s shifts – no matter what our age or vocation.
- We make a plan.
- We work towards the plan.
- Our path seems clear.
- A detour forces us to navigate a new path.
As the mother of twenty-somethings, I see how these detours can be absolutely crushing for young adults. I liked this TED Talk by Meg Jay – up to a point. When she talks about a woman’s peak fertility being at age 28, I feel a little nauseous. I remember being 28, unmarried, uncoupled, and nowhere near a place where “peak fertility” were happy words.
What I also remember is that overwhelming feeling that every decision I made would forever determine my future life. This is terrifying. For example:
- I could major in Engineering or Accounting and have a prosperous but (for me) an unsatisfying work life. I could major in Poetry or Art History and Love Every Minute Of It but find myself struggling to find a barrista job after college.
- I could marry A and have a prosperous life with fewer choices in terms of my own career. I could marry B and struggle financially but have more options in my career.
- I could choose both singleness and child-free-ness and have a wealth of options in terms of where I live and how I spend my income. Or I could choose singleness and parenthood, making life more expensive and complicated but building my own little family.
When we don’t trust that – no matter what we choose – everything’s going to be okay, it’s paralyzing. This kind of trust has a spiritual component, of course.
How can we offer spiritual community that builds resilience and fosters an understanding of a loving God who is with us in life’s detours?
I’m not sure to be honest. But I’m fairly sure it’s not happening by perpetuating what the institutional church has been offering for the past 50 years. This is not to say that all churches are failing twenty-somethings. But there is a lack of connection that still needs addressing.
Spiritual connection is less likely to happen in a sanctuary and more likely to happen in intentional conversations in living rooms and coffee shops and bars.
One of huge detours in the Institutional Church these days is that shift from Sunday Morning being the most important hour of the week to Monday – Saturday evenings being the most important hours of ministry. Imagine the repercussions regarding our choirs, our liturgical teams, our preachers.
I’m not saying that Sunday morning worship is a thing of the past, nor that it’s unimportant. But I am saying that it can no longer be the central portal through which people join a spiritual community.
Just the mention of this major detour in how we are the church is terrifying. But everything’s going to be okay.
Image of Flossmoor Road near my house.