“Oh, just you wait. Things will get worse. Trust me.”
If I could sum up the words that have been spoken over my generation in the recent months, it would be these three sentences. I’d never thought that just three short years after my graduation, my dreams would be attacked so much.
In my last few weeks of college, my classmates, professors, and mentors poured courage, peace, and strength into my heart. Their message was clear and it was good: “God has great plans for you.” I fully believe it then, and I fully believe it now. My college friends encouraged my hopes of traveling the world and meeting people from various cultures. They pushed me to use my gift of and passion for writing (even when I didn’t want to admit that my dream was to be a writer). They noticed my joy and guided me to live with the joy of the Lord as my strength. They walked with me through my raw emotions; they accepted me for who I was, but they loved me too much to let me stay there. Because I was surrounded by encouragement, love, and support for four years, I thought my time in college would prepare me for a lifetime of constant encouragement, love, and support from the world.
Within a few months after graduating, I learned the harsh reality that the world is actually cheering for my failure. In a world where comparison prevents us from celebrating along with other people, where statistics scream in our faces that we will never be successful, and where people’s interests and obsessions change in the blink of an eye…it is so easy for us to believe that there is no point in fighting for success, because in the end, it won’t matter anyway.
For those of us who are looking for approval from anyone other than God, we are looking in the wrong place. We have big dreams, but people are jealous of our success and want to rob us of our joy. We want to go places, but the media portrays the world as a scary place, and tells us that we should just stay in our warm cubby holes and talk to people within our comfort levels. We want to be the talk of the town, but even that video that went viral became old news within a week. We want to fight for ourselves to matter, but in the end, the world shoves it in our face that we don’t. So…what’s the point?
The point is: when we live for the world, we mean nothing, but when we live for God, our legacy will last for eternity. God is happy to see us succeed, especially when we surrender our lives to Him. He is not jealous of us, but jealous for us; He does not compete with us, but in His perfect will He orchestrates all things to work together for good…and He wants you to be a part of His plan. God knows the statistics of this world, but He can do the impossible; the God who fed over five thousand people with five loaves and two fish can take your hopeless, implausible dreams and use them to change the world. And while the interests of this world are fleeting, God’s attention is always on you; He never leaves you or forsakes you.
It would be absolutely wrong to say that I haven’t received any encouragement after graduating college (or even that college was void of any discouragement). But I must say that the world is harsh. While it is said that there is a 50/50 chance of a marriage flourishing or failing, why would anyone want to tell a newly married couple that is enjoying marriage to just give it a few years until they are sick of each other? After a college graduate spends four years and tens of thousands of dollars pursuing a degree that she enjoys, why would anyone want to tell her that she’ll never get a decent job with her head in the clouds? In the confusion of our politics today, why would anyone tell a young person who has been studying current events that his political views are illogical and that he will never understand?
I can’t control the world around me, but I can control how I respond. I was inspired to write this post to encourage millennials, as I have heard many people from other generations talk down to us as if we will never be successful until they conform to the standards of the “older people.” But I believe that this message can encourage others who have big dreams that have been squashed by their peers. I don’t seek to bash anyone, but rather to encourage the people who have lost their hope.
I speak to my generation, the millennials, the young folks, the kids who apparently aren’t quite adults but are definitely not kids. This is my message to you: Do not give up. Rise against the negative voices that have been spoken to you. Life will not be easy, but things do not have get worse. Enjoy the season you are in now. Use the strengths that God has given you now. Do not wait until things get better. Do not be afraid of things getting worse. Life is a process, and you will figure it out.
Above all, know that God is cheering you on. The same God who will never leave you or forsake you inspired Paul to write these words to Timothy: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). May this verse sink deep into your heart and encourage you to persevere in the midst of hopelessness.
According to this world, things will only get worse, but according to God’s Word, there is hope even in the tough times. God has great plans for you, but it involves trusting Him and putting your faith into action. Be encouraged: you are not doomed to a life of failure, but you are promised a life of hope and faith when you commit to follow God’s plan for you.