…As God has shown us by turning stone to bread
When Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and John Hughes died earlier this year, much of the conversation turned to Generation X, my generation, which by broadest definition spans the birth years of 1961 to 1981. We came of age with the Breakfast Club, Billie Jean and Jill Monroe, and thus, the losses were characterized as milemarkers that reached beyond bad days.
In summary, 2009 marked the end of Generation X’s youth. It had been so perpetual and did not serve Gen X well, but rather, the generations who came before us. Alas, we rounded a corner, and the world granted us permission to call ourselves what only they denied we were: grown ups.
I took a sharp right just a little earlier. In November 2008, my brother Billy, an Xer born in 1962, was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Then, this past June, my brother-in-law, Greg, suffered a terrible stroke. I was so upset for him and my sister and their children, I could hardly talk about it with anyone. I cried a lot by myself. I prayed. I worried. And, now, a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about the one kidney Billy has left, or what life might hold for my sister and brother-in-law who are just 10 and 11 years older than me.
Then, today, I learned about a high school friend who has been diagnosed with lung cancer. I’ve been planning a trip to see her. A bunch of my classmates and I were going to meet up at her place the first weekend in November for Caney Girls Weekend. I could not wait to be back in the company of those rural Kansas girls, and now, comes this heartbreaking news.
Generation X Is Growing Older
It is one thing to experience the death of a childhood icon and quite another to watch fellow members of my generation get cancer in their 40s as was the case for my brother and now my high school friend. So, here is part of what I’m processing within the context of 2009 and the reality that Generation X is growing older.
- Boomers have long held fast to their youth.
- In doing so, they frequently reminded Xers how young and inexperienced they were – even though Boomers accepted leadership roles in their 30s that Xers nearing 50 still haven’t had an opportunity to accept.
- After awhile, I think Xers became embittered by the elusion of youth – a veil concocted to meliorate the purgatory of junior executive-dome.
- So, the corner office eluded Generation X. We learned to live with it, and really, family was always the focus anyway, and work-life balance ascended to the Gen X ideal.
- The oldest Gen Xers turn 50 in 2011, and yet, Generation X, as a whole, still does not dominate workplace leadership.
- Meanwhile, we’re entering mid-life with all the looming dread of its various associated crises. Icons are dying and contemporaries are getting poor bills of health.
What does this juxtaposition mean for Generation X?
The other day, my brother sent me a birthday card. Inside was a quote from Ray Lessin, to which my brother added an “X” at the end:
“You lack nothing that His grace can’t give you! He has allowed you to be here at this time in history to fulfill His special purpose for this generation.”
I just loved that. We don’t need anyone’s permission to make a difference in the world. God has put each of us here with a difference in mind. What is it for you?