26 July 2021  |

Aunty, I wish you lived next door. Our millennial kids are good, loving people, but not interested in being Seventh-day Adventists. Besides prayer and loving them, what can we do? 

Signed, Worried mother and dad

Dear Worried,

Aunty wanted to make sure she got this right, so she asked a millennial who has left our church to share what they want from their parents. Here is their answer:

The thing I want the most from my parents is for them to be open to the possibility that God is the God of everyone, not just Seventh-day Adventists. When I hear that my parents are praying for me it makes me sad, because I know that my choices make them afraid. They are afraid that my eternal soul is lost, or that my life is diminished because I have left the church. 

I want them to see—fully understand—that my life is richer, fuller, and even more spiritual than it has ever been before. They see me as “lost” but I see myself as “found.” When they pray for me I know it is an expression of their love—but also of their fear. And guilt: they blame themselves for my choices, or they believe God blames them for my choices. That makes me sad. It isn’t something they need to blame themselves for.

In fact, I made the choices I have because I do not believe that God is a God of fear. God is a God of radical, limitless love. I do not want them to pray for me because they fear I am lost, but to pray that I will find the fullest success, happiness, and contentment in my life, even if it does not conform to their idea of what success, happiness, and contentment means. 

So as much as my parents grieve that I am “lost” I grieve that their faith makes them think that God would punish me for seeking my faith outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They want to save me, but I want to save them from the fear and guilt that grips their hearts. If I am happy outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and I have found meaning and value in my life, is that not enough? Will it ever be enough for them unless I follow the specific doctrine and culture of this one organization? 

Here is what you can do for your millennial children who have left the church: 

Be fully loving and accepting of them. And examine your own fears, beliefs, and biases. 

And I wish you would consider that maybe it’s okay that your children aren’t Seventh-day Adventists, and try to find a way to be okay with their choice. 

Aunt Sevvy isn’t defending leaving the Adventist Church. Aunty also knows that these issues are difficult and disappointing for parents. But the best way to know what to do for someone is to ask them. I hope this reflection by another young person is helpful. 

Aunt Sevvy

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