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1. Call It Luck

What it is: Lucky Girl Syndrome, also called “LGS,” has been trending on TikTok to kick off 2023. The trend encourages people to believe and say out loud that everything works out for them—claiming that the act of doing so will cause good things to happen.
Why it’s not something new: #luckygirlsyndrome got a lot of attention this week with a TikTok post from two college girls (who were in their car eating takeout noodles) who had adopted the simple mantra, “Everything works out for me.” They reported that their lives had become exponentially easier and that, indeed, things were working out better for them than they had before. (If, that is, your definition of better consists of your roommate offering you the better bedroom, for reasons unknown). #manifesttok jumped in to say Lucky Girl Syndrome is simply a fresh take on “the law of attraction,” which is sometimes packaged as “the secret” and known in some circles as “pronoia.” An optimistic attitude can indeed improve material circumstances, but as Christians, we believe it’s God who is bringing things together for good, not the power of our own subconscious minds.

2. Hopey New Year

What it is: Gen Z’s top ten New Year’s resolutions looked very similar to, well, most other people’s, according to survey results published by YPulse. 
Why it’s something to keep an eye on: Newer trends, like vision boards and choosing a word for the year, may have become popular lately, but the trusty “resolution” remains the dominant tradition for people on the cusp of a new calendar year. #2023goals was at over 411 million views and counting as of this writing, and YPulse reports that 81 percent of young people had a New Year’s Resolution or were planning to make one. Making and saving money is especially high on Gen Z’s to-do-in-2023 list (though that might simply be because of the phase of life many are entering) and “eating healthier” was a top choice, with 45 percent of survey respondents indicating they’d like to make a dietary change. A fresh start can elevate our optimism for the future, but inevitably, creating new habits becomes challenging after a few days. Sometimes, failing to make a change or see results right away can leave us feeling worse than we did before we tried. If your teen has big plans for this new year, consider checking in to see how they’re feeling about those goals as we enter the second half of January.

3. Come Back Kids

What it is: New research shows that church attendance amongst Christians has mostly returned to pre-pandemic levels, with the exception of a few demographics—including young people, whose church attendance remains low.
Why it fits an existing pattern: The American Enterprise Institute teamed up with the University of Chicago on this new study. The researchers believe that the pandemic accelerated existing trends in who goes and who doesn’t go to church. (In other words, the pandemic just sped up what was already happening.) Older Americans, married adults, and people with a college education reported less of a decline in regular worship service attendance. Younger people (18-29) and single people were far more likely to have stopped attending and not yet resumed the practice. According to this data set, one in three young adults say they go to church less than they used to before 2020. The study’s authors wrote that “…in terms of religious attendance, the pandemic appears to have pushed out those who had maintained the weakest commitments to regular attendance.” As churches and caring adults reach out to teenagers and young adults, it might require some intentionality and creativity to restore pre-pandemic attendance levels in that group.

Song of the Week

“Superhero (Heroes & Villains)” by Metro Boomin, ft. Chris Brown and Future: reaching #4 on Apple Music and #8 on Spotify, this dramatic-sounding medley is about drinking lean (aka oil, aka Barre, aka “candy in the cup”), doing and selling drugs, having sex, killing people, disrespecting their caskets, and being financially successful. Part two of the song starts with a reference to Harvey Dent’s line in The Dark Knight, “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become a villain,” and “hero” here seems to be defined as someone who indulges in every vice imaginable. For the lyrics (language), click here.

Translation: Call It Luck

If you aren’t familiar with “The Law of Attraction,” it’s basically the belief that positive thoughts bring positive results into our lives, and negative thoughts bring negative results. It’s based on the idea that thoughts are a form of energy, and that positive energy can attract success.

Even if nothing objectively changes in our lives, using a phrase like “everything works out for me” might train our minds to look for the positive. Then, when good things happen, we notice them because we are expecting them. But believers in Lucky Girl Syndrome insist that reality itself bends around phrases like “everything works out for me.”

There is some precedent for this idea in Christianity. Romans 8:28 contains the beautiful promise that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” In that sense, “everything works out for me” is true for the Christian. Jesus also says to his followers, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

But the girls in this video make no reference to God, and manifesting instructions tend to involve asking The Universe for what we want. Maybe sometimes God answers The Universe’s calls, but a lack of acknowledgement to God clearly differentiates The Law of Attraction from prayer, and from trusting God as our provider.

It also is true that happier people tend to be more successful, at least according to this 2022 study. But this isn’t necessarily because happiness and positive thinking “manifest” the success—it may just be because people in a positive frame of mind are more likely to try things and take risks that can pay off.

There are many angles on this topic that we don’t have space to unpack, like the fact that the Bible also promises that Christians will experience suffering. But we do know that Scripture talks about the significance of our thought life; as many translations of Proverbs 23:7 put it, “As a man thinks within himself, so he is.” The question is, how exactly do those thoughts affect our lives in reality?

Here are some questions to spark conversation about that with your teens:

  • Does thinking about positive things always bring positive results? Why or why not?
  • Do you know anyone who tries to practice manifesting? Has it worked?
  • Do you think trying to manifest something could lead to laziness? Why or why not?