The generation that is ascending into adulthood today, known as the millennial generation, is one that many would call “entitled,” “lazy,” “self-important” and a variety of other descriptors that aren’t all that flattering. But like any other generation, millennials have their ups and downs.
The key to understanding millennials is to understand what is important to them. Millennials need to feel like they belong, to feel a sense of purpose and to feel that they are valued.
Speaking as a millennial myself, feeling like I belonged was a huge struggle in my first two years of college. I was shy and introverted, and even though I desperately wanted to have friends, I was also afraid to insert myself.
Because of this, I spent many nights at home alone, wishing I could be out with my peers instead. As I saw their adventures on social media, I was plagued with doubts, wondering if I’d ever really have friends. The reality is that it wasn’t nearly as bad as it seemed at the time, but it’s not so easy to acknowledge that in the moment.
This is the unique mixed blessing and curse of social media, which shows us at a glance what our friends and peers are doing, and when and where and who with. It can lead us to wonder why we weren’t invited, and if we don’t really belong.
I’m thankful for the friends who did reach out to me my freshman year, who saw through my shyness and made an effort to strike up a conversation. Some of my best memories of college are from those moments, when someone who didn’t know me that well reached out to make me feel like I belonged.
U.S. News reported that millennials are the generation with the second-highest rate of loneliness and isolation, with only 27 percent feeling they belong to a group of friends. The need for belonging in a millennial is so great that it can lead to depression, loneliness and even self-loathing if we’re not careful.
We are shaped by our relationships to others in a huge way. But the truth is that human relationships can never fully satisfy the need for belonging we feel. There will always be a craving for more. If we just belonged to that friend group, or just had that job, or were just married to that person, we’d be happy. We’d have found our place of belonging. Or so we think. Usually, we achieve what we want and then find we still have a hole in our lives.
This hole, this need for belonging, can only be filled by a relationship with Jesus Christ. The sense of need for belonging is a hole not just in millennials but also in all people, though we seem to feel it more keenly.
Jesus said in the book of John in the New Testament of the Bible, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God loved the whole world. That includes our generation. Our belonging is with Him.
We find our belonging in Him when we believe in our heart that He died for us and that God raised Him from the dead, and we make Him Lord over our lives. This is how we are saved. Jesus died on a cross, a tool of brutal torture for punishing criminals, even though he hadn’t committed a crime. He did it for us, to pay for our sins.
When we accept this, believe it, and turn to Him as our Savior, we instantly find belonging in Him. Not only do we now belong to God, we also belong in a group of other believers–people called Christians. Christians are a family, connected by our faith in God, and the sense of belonging that comes from being a part of that family can be one of the sweetest feelings you can imagine.
The Bible says in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” That means that Christians belong together regardless of race, social status or gender. We don’t divide ourselves by these things. Instead, we can all feel a sense of belonging by coming together and celebrating our life in Christ.
Are you in search of belonging? The first step to finding it is accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior. The Bible says, “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). If you believe in Jesus and call Him the Lord of your life, you will soon find a sense of belonging that only His followers can ever receive.