Before this past weekend, I’ve never been to a Mormon service (I think they’re called meetings). It’s not that I don’t have Mormon friends, rather I never really had a reason to go. That was until now. My husband’s best friend from childhood was sending his youngest son off on his mission. Their family invited my family to join in the celebration. And when you send your child off for 2 years knowing you’ll have little communication with him, it’s a reason to celebrate on many levels.
The service was lovely. Very different than what I’m used to. But in some ways it was similar. The sanctuary looked different, but the love and spirituality was both seen and felt. There were little kids who were in awe of the older kids. The older kids who looked up to the young men and women who were moving on to that next level. And the adults who looked on with such pride that with their eyes filled with tears there was no question they were tears of joy.
The kids, though. The kids. I tried not to be that creepy woman staring. No matter how young I feel, I’m still that 40-something woman. And when you watch teens intently, it can border on creepy. Especially when you don’t know these kids.
But I watch them. And they gave me hope. Not hope in a religious sense. But real hope.
See, these were good kids. Despite their crazy personalities that show up on social media, they’re good kids. They Instagram and text and kik and snapchat. But they’re good kids. These aren’t the kids who are using these social platforms to bully or spread hate. They’re using it to stay connected. To lean on one another. To call out their friends privately and tell them to chill out or stop being a jerk.
I’m not saying these social platforms are cleansed of their evil. What I’m saying is that I saw hope in a future that’s often flashed before us in the news in horrible stories of violence, disregard, anger, and hate. I saw joy among friends who were so deeply connected that they cried and hugged as they said goodbye to their friend, knowing that while he’s on his mission that there’s no quick and easy way to stay connected.
And while I sat there listening, watching, taking it all in I realized that “kids today” doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Kids today are kind. Kids today are compassionate. They’re giving, loving, and dedicated. Kids today are just like we were those many years ago. Only, they live in a very connected world that has changed their concept of time. For them there isn’t such a thing as absence. With a smartphone you’re never apart.
So realizing, for the first time, that their friends wouldn’t be on the other end of a keyboard was quite a realization. A realization that all those times their parents said that “if they’re real friends they’ll be there” means more than just a reply text, Skype chat, Instagram photo, or video. These kids introduced themselves and were wowed that people who had been friends for 40 years would be there.
Because friendship is more than a like, a plus, a retweet, a text, or a silly video. Friendship is a connection in the heart and soul that says “I’ll be there.”
Life isn’t always pretty, but sometimes it’s extraordinarily beautiful!