1. Isn’t It Romantic?
What it is: The phrase “romanticize your life” is being used to encourage naming and celebrating life’s small pleasures.
Why it’s resonating: The idea of the relaxing, sun-drenched, quiet-moving life is appealing and, some would say, countercultural to a generation that’s grown up with lightning-speed technology. To sit and watch the sunset, to appreciate the scents coming from your morning shower, and to drink tea from fancy little cups can seem curious and quaint. But “romanticizing a life” means, put simply, falling in love with the moments you’re given, and maybe even dressing those moments up a bit. It might also be about finding daily rituals that are specific to you, and extending a big aesthetic (#cottagecore) to microhabits that are distinctly individual. Making an effort to be as present and engaged as possible also gives us opportunities to better steward and appreciate the natural world—the thing that declares God’s handiwork.
2. A Scriptural Shutout
What it is: The most recent State of the Bible report compiled by the American Bible Society showed that trends in curiosity about the Bible came to an abrupt end in the last 12 months.
Why it’s striking: Since 2018, when the American Bible Society started collecting data on Bible use, Bible users have accounted for 47 to 49 percent of US adults. Since April 2021, that number sank down to 39 percent. Based on that statistic, the ABS says that nearly 26 million Americans reduced or stopped interacting with the Bible within the past year. Even people who typically read the Bible regularly decreased their Scripture interaction, the survey indicates. If you have found yourself relying less on the Bible in the last few months, you’re not alone, and a course correction will work best if it’s done in community with an accountability partner, a church group, or as a family activity.
3. It Takes a Dataset
What it is: A tool called the Opportunity Atlas shows that choosing where your children will grow up might be one of the most important indicators of their earning potential and stability.
Why it’s worth looking at: As parents, we spend a lot of time thinking about how all of our decisions may impact the people that our children grow up to be. We don’t want to limit their opportunities or keep them from realizing their full potential. By breaking down large swathes of IRS and US Census data, the Opportunity Atlas project was able to identify how individual neighborhoods have a huge influence on the long-term stability and success of children. Said another way, the neighborhood you are raised in, and the people you grow up around, are a strong indicator of adult outcomes. Given these findings, we can also expand our thinking to the “village” of people we include in our children’s upbringings, including church and Christian life settings. The people we choose to raise our kids alongside will be a central factor in who our kids grow up to believe they can, and should, be.
Slang of the Week
Buy the dip: A term used by crypto enthusiasts and in-app daytraders to mean “buy when the market gets low,” now being used sarcastically to refer to something that’s going down and probably not going to come back up; the joke is that since everyone’s assets are tanked, nobody can buy the dip. (Ex: “Robin: I can’t believe this, my entire savings just crashed now that Dogecoin is worth nothing.” “Little John: Well, you know what they say — buy the dip!”)
Translation: Isn’t It Romantic?
There’s a lot to appreciate about the “romanticize your life” trend, and we pray that it continues to grow. The trend is essentially about cultivating and practicing gratitude for the little things in our lives, instead of only pining away for the expensive, elaborate occasions. Near the end of 1 Thessalonians 5, the Apostle Paul writes, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Although the number of consistent Bible readers may be dwindling (as per thing 2), this trend of “romanticizing our lives” could be evidence of God continuing to work in ways we might not be expecting… stirring up gratitude and appreciation for the world he’s created, even among those who may not know him (yet).
As Christians, we believe that whatever God commands is something that will ultimately work out for our good. And in fact, when it comes to gratitude, psychologists are beginning to understand how “giving thanks in all circumstances” can have a significant positive impact on our mental health. Ann Voskamp writes about how journaling just three things we’re grateful for each day can help reduce depression, apathy, and other intrusive thoughts like suicidal ideation. As Jerusha Clark put it in her Axis Whiteboard session, “Gratitude and anxiety are mutually exclusive neural pathways. You physiologically cannot be grateful and anxious at the same time.”
Though some will approach “romanticizing your life” as if it’s a new concept, in reality it’s only a repackaging of a biblical idea. The Bible Project summarizes the wisdom of Ecclesiastes in this way: “Since you can’t control your life, you should stop trying. Learn to hold things with an open hand because you really only have control over one thing, and that’s your attitude towards the present moment. Stop worrying… and choose to enjoy a good conversation with a friend, or the sun on your face, or a good meal with people that you care about.”
Life can be hard, and the world can be crazy, but we can always find things to appreciate and be thankful for. Here are some questions we hope might spark conversation about that with your teens:
- What does the idea of gratefulness mean to you?
- Have you ever thought about keeping a gratitude journal?