How often do you tell your kid to be a rebel?
No, that doesn’t mean encouraging your teen to get multiple body piercings or skip school. But listen to St. Paul, in his first letter to his young protégé Timothy:
“Let no man despise thy youth: but be thou an example of the faithful in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in chastity.”
The Apostle to the Gentiles is giving every teen and young adult their marching orders. We’re supposed to be different. We’re supposed to enter the world confidently, and exemplify a way of life that is profoundly counter-cultural. Every generation’s young adults receive the same challenge: to walk into the world of their peers as a bright torch in a dark room.
My generation is known as “the Millennials”—tech-savvy, multi-tasking, freedom-loving, full of themselves, and saturated in the moral waste of the 21st century. I’m one of those Millennials. Yes, I’m tech-savvy, multi-tasking, freedom-loving, and definitely overconfident in my own abilities.
But every day, I choose to be different. I’m trying to be “an example of the faithful.” I’m trying to take the lessons I learned at home and translate them into words and actions in the brave new world I’ve found myself in. St. Paul says “in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in chastity.” Some days, that’s as simple as courtesy to a stranger, or dressing modestly at the grocery store. Other days, it means acting charitably towards that guy at the gas station who looked at me like I was an object. Even better, it means speaking about my faith with joy to anyone who asks me why I wear a crucifix around my neck.
As a young professional, life in the real world is none too easy. Stepping outside the comfortable support of friends and family to work and live alone drills down into the core of your identity, no matter what your beliefs. But as a Catholic, there’s more than just learning to pay the bills on time. I’m called to be something radically different, and to choose my faith every day over the values the world throws at me.
My goal? To step open-eyed into a pagan culture, and do my best to be a rebel in this “real world.”
Copyright 2015, Rebecca Willen
Image: “Driveway in the Middle of Buildings” by Unsplash, 2015, modified in Canva, one time use.