Your twenties are often described as the most exciting years of your life. Without the responsibilities of marriages, children or careers, you can enjoy a wealth of opportunities to travel, study, meet new friends and try new things.
Yet as lockdown continues and borders remain firmly shut, many young people are feeling the emotional toll of their reduced freedoms, and find themselves wondering, “Am I missing out on ‘living my best life’?”
These fears are only natural, given that our lives looked radically different to what we expected years – and even months – ago. We talked to Tim Young, student minister at Waitara, and Kate Stace, an assistant minister at Vine Church, about how Christians can respond to this concern.
Our most meaningful experiences grow a love for God
Mr Young and Mrs Stace both hold fond memories of the adventures in their twenties.
“In my early twenties at uni I would love the freedom that three months’ worth of holidays would bring,” Mr Young says. “I would get involved at church with Christmas and charity events, and spend weeks leading on things like SUFM beach mission or Crusader camps.”
Mrs Stace went down another well-trodden path – the “Aussie gap year”.
“After school I packed up my bulky pink digital camera, my first-ever puffer jacket and moved to the UK,” she says. “It seems like a lifetime away now, [when] my main hobby is walking my dog around my suburb with a mask on!”
Despite the many joys of youthful freedom, Mr Young recalls that his favourite experiences as a young adult remain those that grew his love for God and others.
“Though the thrill and adventure of ministry was real and exciting, it taught me to put God and others first, it exposed me to the real difficulties people face in life, and taught me that the universe doesn't revolve around me and my problems,” he says.
This reminder brings real hope for those experiencing FOMO during the pandemic. Although ministry may look very different, there are still meaningful opportunities for us to grow in the most significant way – in our heart for the gospel.
COVID will never change how precious we are to God
When considering how our lives have been affected by lockdown, it is important to measure ourselves against the right ideals. Our fears about losing time are amplified by a world that defines worth by how exciting, successful, or productive our lives are. Thankfully, the Bible does not measure success by these standards.
“COVID may have taken away so much of what you were hoping to adorn your life with, but it will never change how precious you are to [God] and his promise to clothe you with what you need to love and serve him with your life,” Mr Young says.
Christians can hold on to the truth that our salvation has been earned for us through Jesus’ sacrifice, not through the productivity of our days. Jesus has already come to give us the “life to the full” we crave.
Trust in the God who has given you life
It’s not only travel or socialising that COVID has put on pause. The pandemic can cause frustration for those seeking bigger milestones, like finding a partner and getting married, buying property, or starting a new job or ministry.
Mrs Stace suggests that missing out on ticking these boxes can provide a helpful opportunity to ask ourselves: am I trusting in the life God has given me, and trusting in the God who has given me life?
“Trusting in the life God has given you will mean that when things get hard, or you feel like you're missing out, it'll be easier to walk away,” she says. “Trusting in the God who gives us life means that our circumstances can change, but we will still be fulfilled in Christ.”
While the past 18 months may have been a surprise to us, they haven’t been for our heavenly Father. Lockdown is a chance for us to deepen our faith that he was, is, and has always been in control.
“One day life will return to normal – normal-ish? – and we'll look back on this time and wonder how we got through,’ Mrs Stace says. “All those experiences will still be there for you to experience together, with a greater trust in the God who has given them to you.”