One particularly summery evening last May, I headed to downtown Dallas. For me the road from my sedate suburbia to downtown entailed much more than thirty minutes of my time. It was a trip into another culture where beautiful, successful 20-somethings live, work, and love to party. Even though my well-worn NIV Study Bible sat on the seat next to me, my mind was far from memory verses or prayers. I stared down at my jeans murmuring to myself, "What were you thinking when you purchased these matronly things?" Then my eyes moved to the rearview mirror and I sat aghast at the face of a 50-year-old woman looking every wrinkle of the journey. Lastly, with a tightening in my chest I screamed, "Why did you ever agree to meet with a bunch of skinny, tan, unwrinkled 20-year-old women?"
Here's the story behind my frenzy: My 24-year-old son, Matt, dates Jill. Through their college years and now as young professionals working in Dallas, I have gotten to know Jill and her girlfriends at barbecues and birthdays. They have a close relationship, and together they adore Oprah, volunteer in the community, watch The Bachelor and have a monthly book/dinner club. Yet while most of these bright young women are Christians, most are not a part of a church family. Wondering how I might help them connect spiritually, last May I emailed Jill to see if she and her "girls" (as Matt refers to them) might be interested in meeting for a casual summer Bible study. I did not hear back for a few days, but then my inbox was flooded with unanimous reply-to-all "I'm in!" responses. We set a date. And now I found myself wending my way to our first meeting.
I had read about Generation Y, but it was a completely different experience opening the book of Philippians with them as they sat curled up on couches and floors. As I looked into their eyes and souls across bowls of M&Ms and chilled chardonnay, we debated the apostle Paul's all-or-nothing challenge to live contently even in over indulgent "Sex and the City" Dallas.
It was fascinating, heartbreaking, and also encouraging getting into their lives. Here are five things I learned:
1. Be myself. I learned to relax with the fact that I would never be 20-something again and realized that was not what these women needed anyway. Instead, they wanted to know, for example, had I ever blown it, or how had I stayed a good Christian "all these years." Most of their moms live in other towns, so I was privileged with surrogate mom/spiritual mentor status. (I have two sons, so 10 adopted daughters worked great for me.)