The Missing People of Our Generation

A lot of times those involved with social justice or pro-life issues (which I like to think are one and the same thing) speak out for others whose voices can’t be heard, whose voices are missing from the public arena.

That is not what this post about.

This isn’t about those of our peers worldwide who are unjustly treated.  Nor is it about those without love or self-confidence who sit in shadows and corners because no one will bring them out.

Though these things are all post-worthy, the people who I’m talking about don’t need our voices to speak for them.

Hebrews 12:1-2 reads, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.”

This cloud of witnesses is none other than the “heroes of biblical history,” according to the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible.  “They are pictured crowded into a stadium, looking down on believers still running the race of faith and urging them on to victory.  At the finish line stands Jesus, waiting to reward us.  Images of the faithful departed cheering us on hints at the communion and intercession of the saints.  It shows that the Church in heaven is neither cut off from nor disinterested in the pilgrim Church on earth but is actively solicitous of her salvation (CCC 2683).”

Think of the Olympics.  Of the parade of nations at the opening ceremonies.  Or any of the foot races.

As a competitor, you always get a boost when you have people cheering for you.  When you’re about to collapse and you hear people calling out your name, urging you on to strive for just a little bit longer –when you don’t think you can make it and are just about to give up on yourself, but someone else tells you that they believe in you, you start to believe in yourself too- and that hope is just enough to get you through to the end.

Where would we be in life if we hadn’t had the needed support and encouragement from others when we couldn’t find the strength ourselves to keep going?  We all know from experience how influential the words of others can be in our lives.  It makes even more of an impact when the encouragement comes from someone who really knows us, and not just some random stranger who wishes us to do well.

Well, imagine if that stadium full of saints rooting for you is not just patron saints like St. Anthony, Jude, JPII, or whatever saint you’ve whispered a quick call for help to, or even saints whose stories have felt personally relevant to you, but people who have passed on that knew you, and even… people who have known you and loved you deeply though they haven’t had the chance to meet you in this life.

I’m talking about the missing people of our generation.  Those souls who would have been our best friends, lovers, brothers and sisters, coworkers, neighbors, or complete strangers that somehow would still have made a difference on our lives had they lived past the womb.

They still exist.

Even though they died prematurely, they are still souls with unique personalities, loved creations by God, who are completing their purpose in heaven.  They didn’t just disappear into nothingness.  Every hair on their head is counted and known by God just as ours is.  (Ok, so they might not have hair or bodies because the resurrection of the body doesn’t happen until after the second coming, but you get my point.)

And even though these people from our generation can’t impact the world, and our lives, as directly as we can for each other, they are still a force to be reckoned with, a force for good.  (In fact, they’re probably a lot better at doing good than we are because they grew up without the influences of sin.)

We can’t know how different our lives would be had they lived here on earth, but we can know that they are praying for us, impacting our spiritual lives for good, loving us the only way they know how.

The other day in prayer I felt called to pray for our generation.  The lines, “I see a generation rising up to take their place with selfless faith.  I see a near revival stirring as we pray and seek,” from Hillsong United’s “Hosanna” were running through my mind.

I thought of the emergence of a Young Adult Church community in the St. Louis area, due in large part to Brian Miller and some dedicated individuals.  (See their facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Stlouisyoungadults/ or Crossroads’ website here: http://crossroadsstcharles.com/) –how so many Catholics and Christians of other denominations are boldly living out our faith, taking a stand for what we believe in.

I felt God calling me to pray for these people and for others not yet involved because NOW was the time for our generation to rise up and lead by faith.  NOW was the time when the Spirit was pouring out its gifts on the world to lead people to Christ.  And what we choose to do with these gifts will impact everyone around us.

And then something really interesting happened.   I felt like I was the one being stood in solidarity with (that someone else was standing in solidarity with me).

You know how sometimes when you’re praying for someone you feel closer to them?  (Because you’re basically telling God that you care about them, so could He please *insert petition here* for them?)  Well, in praying for my peers, every member of my generation, I suddenly realized that I was praying for not just those here on earth, but those killed in car accidents, overdosed on drugs, taken by cancer, those miscarried, and yes, those aborted too.  I was praying for every single human created by God within my age range mortally dead or alive.

It was a weird feeling to realize that I was praying for people already in heaven… and that they were praying for me too.  In a moment of communion, my prayer, and theirs, were being lifted up to God to sanctify this generation.  It was a pretty cool thing to take part in praise and worship jam session in heaven by, like, conference call or something.

And then something even more amazing happened.  An individual voice came on the line.  I got the sense that this was someone who would have been a best friend, someone like a brother or sister, someone that would have been really important to me had they had the chance to live on earth.

Maybe you’ve heard the line about the guy that asks God, “Why didn’t you send someone to earth who could have found the cure to cancer, stopped the war, etc.?” and God answers, “I did.  You aborted them.”

Well, I never gave much thought to that before, because how could you possible know the difference a life could make?  It was more just a slight argument against abortion and not really something that affected me.  I’d never felt personally robbed by abortion.

But let me tell you.  I did then (in prayer a few days ago) and I do now.  Imagine finding out that you for a fact missed out on knowing an amazing person because they were aborted.  It was like they were sitting beside me just beyond the range of my peripheral vision.  A very real presence.  A very real person.   That’s what it was like.

Who was this person whose presence I could feel that was saying that even though he or she couldn’t be there on earth with me to uplift me, they were lifting me up in prayer to God from his/her place in heaven?

Was it that friend in grade school that I so badly needed when I felt so alone and like a social outcast? Was it someone I would have met in high school or college that would give me that needed boost in self-confidence and encourage me to grow in my love for God?  Or maybe it was someone who would have helped me through this past year.

There’s no way to know.  What I do know is that though I can’t know this person until I meet him/her in heaven, this individual knows me as a best friend and is praying for me like a best friend would.

It was definitely a shock and somewhat saddening.  But more than the sadness at missing out on someone, was the encouragement that we’re not alone.  There’s a whole crowd of our generation backing us up from heaven.  (How many abortions are performed every day?  –That’s how many people are in heaven praying for us.)  Our brother and sisters, our best friends, our loves.  They care about us just as much as they would if they had known us on earth.

And these ‘missing people’ of our generation are speaking out for us to God, raising their voices for ours.

In God’s awesome wisdom, he made a place for them, and a way for them to fulfill their purpose in love outside of earth.  Abortion’s an awful thing, and I can tell you I’d much rather have this friend here with me on earth, but God is pretty amazing to use that opportunity to give us some powerful prayer support.

Advertisements

Suddenly, Fall

Why does the change in seasons always take me by surprise?

The other night I walked out of the house to run some errands and was greeted by the first chilly evening of fall.  Maybe it was because the summer was so hot and this transition in life seemingly unending, but the colder air was definitely a surprise to my senses.  You’d think after having lived through 27 years of changing seasons, I’d just take the changing temperatures all in stride, but instead I was thinking, “Oh!  Is it time for fall already?”  This, from the girl who’d just had her first pumpkin spice latte of the year earlier that day.  Obviously it’s time for fall:  the strawberry salads have just been removed from menus and been replaced by cranberry harvest whatever, pools are officially closed, and Halloween candy lines the shelves immediately upon entering grocery stores.  Is it that surprising that the weather should be cooperating with our merchandising calendars?

‘They’ say that as we get older time moves faster, and that’s generally true, except maybe for this ‘season’ in my life –this year or so of discerning.  No, time has moved infinitely slow since embarking on this interior journey.  Probably because I’d rather skip the journey and just end up at whatever the next stop in life is, impatient as I am.  So, it came as a surprise to me to suddenly be waking up to what God was calling me to, to suddenly feel alive with purpose.

And why does fall make us come alive when it’s a time for decay and preparing for winter’s sleep?  I always think it’s funny that crisp fall air invigorates us, that we spend more time outside (now that the exhaustive heat has passed) with bonfires, pumpkin and apple picking, hiking, and just generally enjoying autumnal beauty, when everything else in nature is winding down.  Maybe we’re just trying to eke out as much time outdoors as we can before it gets too cold to enjoy it.  (Not that ice skating and snow ball fights are not fun, but they’re usually not an all-day activity.)

Maybe it’s because sometimes we like to stare death in the face.  And laugh.

We like to jump out of airplanes with only sheets of silk to save us, dive off cliffs into waters unknown, speed through streets on motorcycles, and countless other nameless thrills.  Why?  Because doing so makes us feel alive.  So of course then, fall would make us run faster and shout louder and breathe in deeper.

And somehow, now, dying feels like some kind of adventure.  A conduit for greater things to come.

That’s what this year has been.   Well, really, it started way back in Mobile after college.  Not satisfied with adult life as an accountant, I began the search for what I could do with my life that would give it meaning.  And with God, that meant giving up everything I’d ever wanted to be, to find who He wanted me to be (who I really wanted to be down deep).

With all those misconceptions about what my life should be about out of the way, I can see a lot more clearly.  And now that it’s not all about me and what I want to be, what I want to do with my life, my life is bigger too.  My life is more than what it was.

So, it’s kind of funny that here I am, returning to what my life was once before, going back to accounting (and I know what some of you are thinking, but trust me, I know that this is what I’m supposed to be doing, and I’m happy about it), but my life is more than that now too.  It’s not about the accounting; it’s not about my job or career or work or even ministry.  It’s about growing into who God is calling me to be, fulfilling my vocations, and dying (a thousand different times, and also that final death) so that I can awaken to life as it was meant to be.

Songs to listen to:

Surprise (Jars of Clay),

Learning How to Die (Jon Foreman),

Something’s Missing (John Mayer)