It can be very hard thinking of something to blog or publicly speak about. I find it hard as a young person. Even at the tender age of 22 I am still seen as a young person, something that I quite relish in to be honest. However I do often wonder to myself; when do I reach that point where I am no longer young? How old do I have to be in order for someone to look at me and no longer say “He is a young man.”? My main reason for wondering this is that I find myself feeling that what I have to say is not of value or worth. Not because my ideas and views are inherently wrong or incorrect but because they come from my mouth and my mind, the mouth and mind of a 22 year old, a young person. This is something that I hear often from fellow young people, both secular and spiritual. I also hear this, unfortunately, from people who are not young. I don’t know if you would call them old or middle aged or, in some cases, ancient, but a number people have confided in me that they feel that they have nothing of worth to say to young people because they are too old and outdated.
This feeling of inadequacy and inferiority, I believe, is compounded in young people today. For me it is compounded by my depression, as I have heard from many other young people. However I have seen and heard a range of reasons that have reinforced this feeling, ranging from not being clever enough through to not having enough friends online. What it seems to appear to stem from is our value. My turning point for this was when I was away observing General Synod in 2013. I was invited to attend as a Young Observer from the Church of England Youth Council (CEYC) and it was the weekend debate for women in the Episcopate (women being allowed to Bishops). It was a very tense weekend and there was a lot of emotion and weight to the weekend. At one point there were small group gatherings where the representatives of General Synod were discussing church growth. We were invited to attend and observe them as Young Observers, so I entered my designated room. In it was seated 20 people, all easily over 30 years old and in it contained several high ranking vicars and bishops. I took my seat on a comfy, cushioned chair in the circle of wizened and established representatives ready to listen to the big people talk. Note book to hand and pencil scrawling quick outlines for me to write in, I prepared to dutifully and attentively take notes of what was to be discussed. A picture of an olive tree was given to each member as a focus point and one was handed to me, which I thought was to help me understand what they were about to discuss.
The discussion started and several people chimed in with their views on church growth, which direction it was going in and why. There were lots of sounds of agreement and querying. People gave each other the space to speak and be heard. All were treated with respect and all were valued. After several minutes of discussion on their part and unintelligible writing on my part the Bishop leading the discussion paused. He turned to me and said:
“Eddy, what do you think?”
Everyone turned to look at me, faces and ears open, ready to hear what I had to say. A lump rose in my throat.
“Yes Eddy, you have a voice and we want to hear it. We want to hear what young people think.”
So I told them. I told them what I thought. They all listened with respect and treated me with value. That moment was the point where I realised I had a voice that I could use. Even more so than that, I learnt that each person has a voice, a voice that should be treated with value.
Now this applies to everyone: you, me, our families, our friends and our enemies. It extends to our neighbours across land and sea. We all have a value because we exist. For me this value comes from a bible passage. It is Psalm 139:
1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
Here we find the author unravelling a beautiful picture of a God who knits us together, who gives us life and purpose and value. He formed me, he formed you and he formed every person on this planet. Each word that we are to say God knows before we say it. Each thought God knows before we even think it. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are the creation that God delights in, that He loves so dearly and rejoices in. He loves us just as we are and that is where our value comes from. So actually when that voice creeps in to say that you are too young or haven’t earnt the right to speak, just remember; you are fearfully and wonderfully made. For me the moment that took me realising this was when someone told me I had a voice and it was valued. They reflected that verse to me in living practice. So may I pass that on? I want to say to you, I want you to hear this. I speak as a person who is young, married, PCC member, CEYC member, Christ lover and someone who is fearfully and wonderfully made. I say to you:
You have a voice and we want to hear it.
Ed works as a Science Technician by day and Youth Worker, Public speaker and husband by night. He loves cooking, hosting, eating and being a child of God. He hopes to be Ordained in the future and work as an Army Chaplain.
Follow Ed on twitter! @EdwardCox7