We had a really tasty lunch today. Cut up melon, good bread and fresh tomatoes for turkey sandwiches, sandwiches, and chips. And what made it better was having our family around the table – all six of us. Jordan is home from Florida Southern College for the summer and we love having her around. She returns in August – and Seth will move to the dorm at UNF. We are acutely aware of temporary privilege of having all the kids at home. And we are grateful for the bright, independent young adults they are and are becoming.
So I took a little time at lunch today to tell them something important.
If they want to return home as young adults, they will be joyfully welcomed.
There is a reality that has forced the conversation. It is apparently kind of hard these days to get a job that allows you to rent and furnish an apartment, buy a car, and put money aside. Apparently, it isn’t much easier after graduate school. And this has been very surprising to a generation that heard this materialistic cultural narrative: “If you go to college, work hard and get a good degree, you’ll get a good job and make lots of money.” It’s been a disillusioning, who-moved-my-cheese kind of moment for many young adults and their parents. In the previous couple of generations, such disillusionment landed on those who suffered a mid-life career challenge. Now it happens earlier. So a lot of young adults find themselves disappointed about their job prospects and disillusioned by that empty promise. A fair number pragmatically return home. Unfortunately, that option is not open to some and others find their return rather cold. That won’t be the case for our kids.
Because maybe this is an opportunity for disciples of Jesus. This is an opportunity to discover the joy of being an extended family on mission.
The more I learn about following Jesus in community, the more I simply desire for my kids to follow Him wherever he leads and to do so in community. If Jesus leads them back into our house and our community of friends, why would I have a problem with that? And the more I experience of missional community and the more I learn about being a family on mission the more I would welcome my kids living in our home on into the future. Because to be on mission together leads to mutual support, shared resources, encouragement, close fellowship, adventure, and shared meaning. It is about doing life together. Why would I ever want my kids excluded when I wish other included?
Please don’t get the wrong idea. It would not be acceptable for them to return home, consume our resources, sleep all day, play video games all night, and complain no one does their laundry. No. Adults in our house will be expected to pull their own weight and then some.
And I realize that seasons of independence are essential for kids to grow confident as adults. I recognize the importance of a college experience and education. We do not cease to encourage them to take those needed steps. And we already expect them to develop their talents, seek work, earn money, and make a contribution. But if they do so from our house, all the better. Not only will they be able to set resources aside and stay out of debt, they will be able to extend the mission of God in our city! Because to do life with our family is to be invited into and included in our mission. We believe Jesus has put us together to bless our neighbors and to serve our city. And we already get to do so with several other families. If we get to do so with our kids who are becoming wonderful young adults, well, you won’t find me grumbling about that. No, you will find me giving thanks. Because, while I want my kids to get good jobs I want something better for them than a materialistic cultural narrative. I want them to be the kind of people who bring the grace, truth, mercy, and healing of Jesus to our city, who embody what it means to love God and love neighbors.
After my announcement, Jordan said, “This is kind of relieving to hear.” It is indeed. They may never come back home after college. That’s okay, too. But if they do I will celebrate.
Last thought on this: When people describe heaven, they commonly talk about being welcomed with joy by family and people they love. They talk about finally making it home. So if our kids come home after college – whatever their prospects may be – we will welcome them home with joy. And maybe experience a bit of heaven in our house.
Blessings on the journey.