Confessions of a Christ-Seeking Millennial
by Derick Dillard
At the dawn of my 30s and sitting here on spring break, I find myself unusually reflective, yet equally focused on the future. I haven’t been on “spring break” in nearly a decade, but ‘tis the life of a millennial in the midst of a newly-focused career trajectory. I’m probably about as typical as you can be for one from my generation (sans the bad stereotypes), born right in the middle of the millennial generation, three days before the birth of the world wide web to be exact. Like many people who look back on their 20s, wondering where the time went and how life could change so fast, I want to briefly discuss some of my key takeaways from the past decade and how I’m anticipating the next.
By far, the most important aspect of my life is my identity as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Regardless of where I find myself in life, I pray that my Christian faith informs all that I think, say, and do. People often think of the Christian life as something old and stuffy, but truth-be-told, I’ve experienced quite the opposite. Doing my best to live for my creator has been an unexpected adventure thus far. And before you think that “adventure” equates to continual bliss in a land of sunshine, puppies, and rainbows, it absolutely does not. I certainly like puppies, but they might also increase your renter’s insurance. I think about adventure as “calculated risk.” Adventure might very well lead you to the toughest times of your life and try you to your core. You can think about and plan something all you want, but eventually you just have to jump and trust that God knows what he’s doing. I still suffer from a certain degree of “analysis paralysis” from time to time, but one thing I’ve learned is that I don’t always have to have all the answers, but I do need to trust my God who does. I know it’s a trite and cliché saying, but it’s absolutely true and a foundational principle of the Christian faith. Faith requires us to swallow our pride and forces us to come to terms with the fact that we are finite beings, who are not owed the capacity to comprehend all the mysteries of life and the universe. However, it is magnificent to catch glimpses of these on occasion, as I live in personal relationship with the one who has saved me from myself and who continues to show me what true pleasure is.
Ten years ago this week, I was playing my trumpet at the Big XII basketball tournament in Kansas City as part of the OSU spirit band. Some of the riskiest things I’ve done since then include, but aren’t limited to (not necessarily in order of importance or riskiness):
- trying out for the role as “Pistol Pete” OSU’s mascot (formerly held by my dad who had passed away 15 months earlier), after failing the year before;
- working like crazy and applying for every scholarship under the sun in order to stay out of the ridiculous student loan crisis, while still going to my dream school, out-of-state
- moving to Nepal for two years, having never traveled internationally (sorry, but I don’t count boy scout float trips in Canada as being a very international experience 😉
- falling in love and marrying my best friend when neither of us knew whether my mom would be alive when we arrived back from our honeymoon;
- bringing kids into this crazy world;
- changing a diaper;
- moving my family to Central America so that we could serve in one of the most murderous countries in the world
- going back to school, 8 years since being in a classroom;
- and numerous unmentionables, which can only be heard over a cold frosty (so says one of my professors);
Regarding the big transitions and difficult choices that most millennials face (e.g. relationships, careers, and kids), many may suffer from the same “analysis paralysis” that I used to struggle with, but eventually you just have to pull the trigger. You’ve got to take a calculated risk and just jump, even when you don’t exactly know what will happen. For example, one myth I hear going around in the Christian millennial world is this notion of “the one.” Young singles expect to see the clouds part and hear the hallelujah chorus when they meet their soul mate, and if that hasn’t happened, then they believe that they must continue waiting for “the one.” If you carry this thinking into married life, you may even question yourself about whether you passed up “the one” or should have waited a little longer because “the one” was just over the horizon. If you’re married (to a Christian or not), “the one” is always going to be who you are married to. My “one” is always Jill Michelle Dillard. If you aren’t married, don’t wait for a perfect person because you’ll just die single. Furthermore, you are never going to feel as “ready” as you think you need to be before embarking on the next adventure, whether that be with your career, starting a family, or otherwise. Carpe Diem!
Looking back on my 20s, I’ve realized that the best thing to do is discern God’s leading (through prayer, the Bible, and counsel from those who do the same) in life and follow Him, rather than simply doing what feels most comfortable. Looking to the future, I plan to continue approaching life with the same mindset – it’s proven to be a much more adventurous life than I could have ever planned.