The fall air was crisp and clean as I lunched in a tranquil vineyard setting with a pastor's wife in Queenstown, New Zealand, this past May.
Their seasons are opposite ours in the U.S., but our conversation was about something that is the same around the world and hasn't changed since I was a young woman.
How do moms balance work and home and handle the constant tension and stress?
The pastor's wife was frustrated. "Mothers don't listen to wisdom today, only information they get off the internet. They read opinions on social media or listen to TV shows on how to have a successful career, be a great wife or parent—but no two marriages, kids or careers are the same. So they end up at church each Sunday frazzled and stressed out."
I had to nod because my job as mom has shifted in recent years to grandmother, but I've seen firsthand the struggle in my own daughter's life trying to juggle it all. Extra stress has been added to women today as this generation places more emphasis on health, safety and measuring up to cultural demands blasted at them endlessly through their ever-present digital devices. It can be overwhelming.
I'm a Baby Boomer. Our generation rejected much of our parent's values and turned our parental advice phones to silent to embrace personal and sexual freedom. But the result of that is a generation of children who grew up in households with failed marriages and little guidance about life.
Boomers didn't believe in absolutes and wanted our kids to be free to choose their own paths and beliefs. So most Millennials have grown up looking for that information on the internet, social media and following what the culture dictates or whichever solution makes the biggest noise. They've been left not knowing how to navigate life or find lasting truth in a very uncertain world.
Millennials question everything and trust nothing. They search for scientific facts and some kind of moral standard but often, in frustration, just give up. Tragically in the U.S., depression rates are soaring as is substance abuse and pornography, and many have only found relief by taking their lives.
Our world is broken. The brokenness was caused by the evil one that continues to deceive today, but now that evil has more platforms than ever. His sole purpose is to dump guilt in our lives, keep us off balance and numb us to God's direction and divine wisdom. Life, especially today, comes at us hard.
It may initially look easier to go with the flow, but in Matthew 7:13, Jesus tells us about a narrow gate not taken because the road to destruction is easier. Or you might compare it to junk food. It seems easy but a well-planned, nutritious meal will infinitely give you a better healthier life.
Is it time to cut back on the smartphone, social media, Google treadmill?
When culture slams you hard against the wall, God's wisdom says to trust that He has your back. Put your smartphone down for a bit, put a hold on social media, and more importantly, stop striving. God has given us minds and hearts and expects us to use them. We have to apply what seems to the non-believing world as unnatural wisdom and often the opposite of what culture dictates. But when we do, it allows for new paths to be taken with often out of the box solutions. It takes brave and courageous individuals to beat a different path through the world's misguided wilderness, and it may take putting earplugs in to silence the cultural noise so that we can hear God's still small but powerful voice.
Women who have discovered the value in prioritizing Bible engagement stand out. They're able to handle the uncertainties thrown at them and have discovered that staying connected with the Creator brings knowledge and wisdom beyond their years.
This grandma says to not fall for the trap of bigger or faster and that a temporary pullback or self-denial may actually be smarter. Take an honest look at yourself and see at what you really need as opposed to what you want. Confess your human limitations and embrace God's extraordinary limitless ones. Be fully present with your husband, kids or friends. You don't have to wear designer clothes, carpool in the newest car or take out a loan so you can brag on Instagram that you went on a Disney cruise ship.
Take a different kind of cruise. One that gets you off the treadmill and seeks the wisdom and grace of God who guides us to a "peace that passes all understanding." When you stay engaged with God and commit your ways to Him, He somehow stretches time and money and brings answers to questions that can't be found with quick digital solutions. It's a mystery that you have to step into and trust.
Look beyond the small screen and think outside of this world.
Kathleen Cooke's new devotional is called Hope 4 Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture. Find out more at kathleencooke.com.
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