Times are A-Changin’ Us All

With the Coming of Age Celebration this Sunday, I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic of transitions and change. One of the things that has been bouncing around my brain is an NPR article that came out late last year about how the pandemic may have shifted our personalities on a population-wide scale. I don’t think this is surprising to anyone. We’ve all been through a lot.

But it was interesting to have some data to back up the anecdotes and general feelings that the last few years have changed us in ways that are deep and possibly long-lasting. If the study cited by the article is to be believed, however, these changes were not the most positive or healthy. “[T]he researchers found that extroversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness all declined across the population, but especially for younger adults, who also showed an increase in neuroticism.”  The biggest changes were in young adults, but these shifts were seen across the population. 

When we honor young people during the Coming of Age Celebration, we do so because we recognize they are in one of life’s major transitions, from childhood to adolescence. It is one of the many ways we recognize transitions in our congregation, from baby dedications, to presentations of Bibles, to senior blankets, and now Joel’s regular transitions and ritual workshop for young adults and beyond.

But what this article has me thinking about is how much we are all constantly changing and facing transitions in our lives. Some of them are bigger, personality-shifting type changes, while others might be smaller but no less important. As much as we might want it to, no one’s life operates on a tidy schedule where major changes can be mapped on specific days or even years. Life is always changing and growing and transitioning. 

Sometimes it’s a wild ride. 

Whenever we recognize and honor transitions in the Church, there is always an element of doing so in a way that surrounds people in community, helping them see that while the transition may be their own, they do not walk that road alone. The population-wide shifts that the pandemic may have wrought on us leaned toward the negative in large part because we were so isolated for so long.

We all need connection and community for whatever changes life brings us. 

So when we honor our young people this Sunday, we will do so in the hopes that they see this congregation walking with them toward whatever adolescence (and beyond) may bring.  And whatever transitions each of us are facing, I hope we all feel that same sense of connection and support.