I remember the night I took up the offering in my dad’s church wearing a midriff shirt with hip-hugger pants. Despite this being the 1970s in California, several older women in the church were traumatized by the event.
They stared without flinching at my belly button, shaking their heads, appalled by my pre-Jesus-Mary-Magdalene-like behavior.
Since I had come to church a little late with my sister, mom had yet to observe my attire. She raised one eyebrow at me, which is the equivalent of a throat-slash gesture in mom world.
Per the messages my dad soon received, some church people went home and discussed how the preacher’s daughter was heading down the road to early pregnancy and a future as a hooker.
I was leaving the arms of Jesus and throwing myself into the arms of any stranger who could give me a few dollars to support my drug habit.
What they didn’t know was that I only had five church-quality tops. Our church was small and there wasn’t a lot of money pouring into our tiny home for extras. In addition, I had a bad habit of never washing my clothes.
But since I knew I was taking up the offering that night, I had washed my plaid shirt that matched my green hip-hugger pants. It was my best outfit. The shirt even had a collar and elastic at the bottom.
When I threw that top into the dryer, I didn’t pay attention to the level of heat. I figured you just shut the door and turn the knob and let that magical machine do what it does best.
My sister, who was super organized and prepared for everything from tomorrow’s test at school to the apocalypse, was already in our AMC Hornet hatchback honking the horn. I was in the bathroom separating my eye-lashes with a straight pin and proceeded to stick one right in my eye.
Doing the best I could with double-vision, I grabbed my shirt out of the dryer and put it on.
Except something was askew.
The elastic bottom was sitting six inches above my hip huggers. My church shirt had shrunk.
I knew that we were already late, and my only other choice was a shirt in the hamper with body odor that could potentially overcome some of the elderly in our church when I passed them the offering plate.
Therefore, I left the short shirt on and tried to pull it down, sure that I could stretch it down past my bellybutton before the church service.
But, it didn’t work. And I created months of prayer requests and conversations with my dad over the alarming future that awaited me as a selfish, slutty, thoughtless, Satanic teenager.
This story came back to mind not long ago when I attended a conference at which I heard similar concerns about the narcissistic, selfish, slutty Millennials.
I listened to human resources professionals talk about all of the activities necessary to keep these thoughtless human beings interested in work. I heard leaders ask how they can help a generation that can’t even use banking products, are irresponsible, and job hop constantly.
The words “hooker” and “Satanic” weren’t used, but the tone used when mentioning the word “Millennial” communicated clear contempt.
In conventions and business articles, this generation is discussed as some type of alien being, implanted by another species that wants to doom our earth to a future of destructive behaviors.
Those of us who gave birth to them are apparently not responsible, just curious about how to fix this zombie-loving generation who can’t hold a job and only thinks about themselves.
Knock-knock. Who’s there? Me, in my 20s.
Because I lived paycheck to paycheck. I knew how to write a check, and balancing my checkbook took two minutes. I guess investing my spare change wasn’t top-of-mind.
And I did hop from job-to-job, because I was at the bottom rung of the career ladder and there were a lot of options.
And while I wasn’t into zombies, I was a “The Exorcist,” “The Omen,” “Halloween,” and “Rocky Horror Picture Show” kind of girl.
As I listened to concerned Baby Boomers ask how to handle these troubling Millennials in the workplace, I wanted to stand up and share my perspective.
I gave birth to two “Millennials,” and surprisingly they are not small and green with large heads and big eyes. Well, my son’s head was abnormally large for his body when he was young, but he grew into it beautifully.
Both of my Millennials are employed, paying for their own places, responsible, and charming. They care about the earth, they care about their friends, and are thoughtful and intelligent.
I think generational teaching is, at its best, a topic that generates interesting discussion. At worst, it stereotypes a group of people unfairly.
I sat in a company-wide session in which the CEO asked how many Millennials were in the crowd. At least 25 to 30 hands went up.
When he asked “How many of you want to be called Millennials?” all hands went down but one, and I think she just wasn’t paying attention.
Young people have been misunderstood for years by those of us who sense the end is getting closer and our replacements are better-looking and healthier than we are. We forget the years when being with our friends was more important than discussing our bunions or our financial statements.
Millennials, never fear. You are not an alien species. You are us. Thirty years ago. And we miss us.