I am a creature of habit. A love of good coffee, good quiche, and familiarity keeps me coming back to Niedlov’s, a quaint little breakfast place here in Chattanooga. I recently met my friend Bailey there for breakfast before she went to school. Bailey is sixteen; I am twenty-six. It was her first time eating there.
One of the beautiful things about Niedlov’s is the people. Most of us are regulars and our order is known before we have time to speak it. As we sat there enjoying both the ministry of small talk and pondering some of God’s goodness, Bailey began to notice something about the people I was exchanging hellos with— they were all older than me. She asked, “Who was that? How do you know him?” I responded, “That is my friend Dave. We go to church together. And that’s Hamilton, we see each other here at least once a week if not more. Oh, and that’s my friend Anna, she stops in on her way to work down the street.”
I could see the bewilderment on her face. “Mary Elizabeth, why are your friends so old?” It was a simple statement, but one that spoke volumes. There are ten years and a few life stages between Bailey and me, but her friendship is one of God’s kindest gifts to me. We parted ways, Bailey on her way to school and I on my way to work. As I drove to my office, a series of questions began to bounce around in my mind.
When did it become the norm to engage and interact with others who belong only to our same generation? Where did we learn this? How do we unlearn it? There is a real problem and the problem is this: we have failed to make friends across generational lines.
Recognizing the problem is not a difficult thing to do. Moving towards a solution, however, is a more arduous task. It is not always easy to engage those that are different than we are. This is especially true of the “generational gap.” It’s scary.
Most of the time we really do need help. We need someone or something to aid us in leaning into the truth of Ephesians 2, the truth that Jesus really does break down every barrier that might divide us, even the barrier of generations. We need help understanding that our point of connection isn't our age but rather knowing that we are all broken and in need of Jesus. It is when we grasp this truth that we are then able to move toward one another no matter our age. As bold as it may be, I truly believe that the prayer is one of the best aids in encouraging people from every generation to begin moving toward one another.
And this is how it was always meant to be right? The Scriptures are full of intergenerational relationships. I believe this is what God intended for his church. Every young person should have multiple natural relationships with adults decades older than them. My hope is that
Would you prayerfully consider joining me in bridging the gap?