In Praise of Our Millennial Generation

It’s common for students of culture to reserve some of their harshest criticism for the members of our millennial generation. They’re self-serving, aimless, and committed to nothing, so the critics say.

Perhaps those critics have not met any of the dear twenty- and thirty-somethings who served us so generously in the days following the recent flood in Baton Rouge.

Like tens of thousands of our fellow south Louisianans, our home was flooded the weekend of August 13 and 14. We took on over three feet of water, damaging the structure, ruining our belongings, and devastating our family. 

Water began to overtake our carport about 2:30 on the morning of the fourteenth, so my wife Carole and I left, driving through a foot and a half of water already spilling across the nearby highway.

Leaving early any Sunday morning, neighborhoods would be quiet, but streets were eerily so. Our phones worked only intermittently, and—as we looked for a nearby hotel—we discovered those who’d flooded east of us had booked them all. We drove around in the rain for hours, settling on the police headquarters parking lot.

Like us, about three-dozen other couples simply needed a place to focus their confusion and let their dogs run a bit. We couldn’t even call our son and his family north of the city to let them know we were headed their way. We just showed up.

We felt helpless. And lonely.

In God’s providence, that feeling didn’t last.

Within forty-eight hours, all three of our adult children, along with dozens of their coworkers and friends, walked through ruined doors to do the nasty and challenging work of mucking out our home.

They carried floor coverings and drywall to the street in great piles of debris, as the testimony of nearly forty years of shared life and ministry made its soggy way to the street.

But, at a time when we were so hurt, dozens of gifted and caring young adults—virtually every one of them a member of the unfairly maligned millennial generation—not only did the vile work of gutting our home, but they walked with us, asked how we were doing, and listened to stories that seemed to interest them just as much as they did us. They were two architects, a Spanish teacher, several coders, programmers, a PhD candidate, cabinetmakers, a nursery worker, office staff, a draftsman, two sales professionals.

Many of them took time off from work. Others closed their offices but refused to take the day, choosing to help out instead. They did the work and grieved with us too, sharing the memories represented by a host of damaged pictures and mementoes.

When we needed it, they held us and they held us up.

No one faces an event like this alone. No one. But few are as blessed as we’ve been. A gifted and generous group of fellow servants—most of whom we’d never met before, and many of whom we’ll likely never work with again—gave much more than their time.

For the two or three days when it mattered most, they loved us and made certain we’d face such uncertainty with other people who truly care. They’re God-centered, selfless, committed to their communities, and anything but aimless.

Praise God for our millennial generation. The Lord has blessed us. He blessed us through them.

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