Some years ago, when I was going through a hard season, I had a job that required me to drive 90 minutes there and back again in rush hour traffic. I spent a lot of that time in my head, pondering some grim circumstances. I was no longer young by anyone’s standard, and the value of all I had done in my life seemed to dissolve in the acid grief of loss.
During one of those drives on the 110 freeway, I played Reverend Dan Smith’s album Just Keep Goin’ On. There was a hidden secret in his directions to “take every knock as a boost, every stumbling block as a stepping stone. Lift up your head and hold your own—just keep goin’ on, young people, just keep goin’ on.” From then on I played his music each way, every day, for a year. One day I realized that Rev. Dan, who recorded the album when he was pushing 90, meant me when he sang to “young people.” So when he urged, “Lift up your head and hold your own,” he believed I could do it. It was enough.
Fifteen years later, “young people” still means me. It also means you. There is wisdom in this issue’s theology articles edited by Kara Powell (thank you, friend) about young people and how to help them flourish. Please note that such wisdom does not apply to just 11- to 29-year-olds. Pam King’s quote on the cover accompanying the beautiful image of cellist Yena Choi is as true for the rest of us as it is for any teenager: “When we find ourselves contributing to a greater story, we thrive.”
I believe a day will come when that greater story will include a chance for me to thank Rev. Dan. Until then, I pass along the wisdom he shares in such words as these—“I say to every young woman, also to every young man: sometimes I know you get discouraged; don’t stop and wring your hands. Your privilege cannot be taken, your rights cannot be banned. If someone like me can make it, I know you can.”
+ Lauralee Farrer is storyteller and chief creative at Fuller, editor in chief of FULLER magazine, and creative director of FULLER Studio.