Every year of my thirty-six years of teaching I would be pleasantly reminded that young does not necessarily mean immature, ignorant, or inept. Every year, one or more students would surprise me with a new insight, a remarkable idea, or an amazing accomplishment.
These past couple of weeks, three young women have once again shown me that the young have much to teach us––about persevering, about turning sorrow into solace, and about facing death––lessons we often associate with an older age bracket.
The first is the remarkable victory of 18-year-old Emma Raducanu of Great Britain, the first qualifier ever to win the US Open in tennis. First of all, tennis tournaments are seeded, which means that the players who are supposed to do the best, are carefully placed in the draw in order to set up the most competitive matches later in the tournament. Then, all the other players are drawn at random to face them. That makes it a tough road to victory for the unseeded. In fact, this year, both finalists were unseeded, meaning whoever won would be only the third unseeded woman to have won the Open.
Second, Raducanu had to play an additional three matches just to get to the first round of the Open. She did it the way we should all live: “I’ve just been taking care of each day, and three weeks later I’m in final.” Lesson One: Just take care of today, and tomorrow will take care of itself.
The second person is a 19-year-old singer/songwriter who has just exploded onto the Christian music scene. According to her testimony ( Anne Wilson’s Story), she hated the piano lessons her mother insisted she take and instead set her sights on becoming an astronaut for NASA––until the untimely and tragic death of her older brother. The next morning, after a heart to heart with God, she went to the piano and started playing “What a Beautiful Name.” Her parents asked her to play it at the funeral. Reluctantly she did, and in that moment her life changed. Her breakout single “My Jesus,” is for you below. Lesson Two: God knows your future.
The third individual is unnamed to me, but I heard her story on KLove the other day. A young lady was asked about her tattoo of a fork and this was her reply. She had a friend her age who was given three-months to live. Instead of wasting that time in self-pity, this friend used it to prepare “to leave.” Part of that process was meeting with her pastor to plan her funeral, and her last request was to be buried with a fork in her hand. When he asked why, she replied that her favorite part of a meal was when the dishes were taken from the table but the hostess would say, “Keep your fork. That meant that the best was yet to come.” Lesson Three: The best is yet to come.
Yes, often, we––the older generation––are asked to teach the younger generation. That’s how life works. But never discount the young. As Paul told Timothy in the second half of Timothy 4:12, that despite his youth, he was to “set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
Let’s watch, listen, and learn from what wonderful young people can teach us.
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