By Barbara Lishko

“Our hearts are restless Lord, until they rest in thee.”  St Augustine knew well what he was writing about, having spent part of his life filling the void with everything but God.

It is difficult to watch people you care about “fill their voids” with self- destructive habits, people and distractions. So many times I see them settle for pleasure, when what they really yearn for is happiness. I remember Matthew Kelly speaking once on this subject of pleasure and happiness. The main difference being pleasure must be constantly fed or the feeling dies. Happiness on the other hand, can sustain itself long after the experience which brought it about.

Being a parent and a youth minister who works with teens and young adults, I am constantly baffled at the lengths our young people travel as they seek pleasure. It can be like a drug addiction that must constantly be sought in ever higher degrees to attain that original euphoria. Many are so lonely for one reason or another. They feel incomplete without all the material trappings society says they must have to be happy and fulfilled. Often their desperation for a soul-mate drives them into settling for a hook-up instead of true and authentic, self-giving love. They desire answers for their purpose and meaning yet lack discipline and patience, descending instead into a constant state of meaningless diversions.

It is sad to hear about. It is heartbreaking to observe. I have found myself in the role of confidant many times so I have a unique perspective as I watch the drama unfold. I know their desire is for something more, yet time and time again, they settle for the counterfeit. I go to “the Garden” often, and kneel there beside our Lord as He interceded to the Father on our behalf. I too intercede and do what I can in small ways to beg the Father, Son, and Spirit to guide and assist these young people as they struggle with their choices and ensuing consequences. We have all been there in one degree or another, yet these times are somewhat different and less forgiving.

I know when I goofed-up as a young person I might be taunted about it for awhile but I would have never had to see it played over and over again on the internet, spreading poison and stinging each time with ever increasing destruction.  With all the means of greater communication, we have faster ways of spreading gossip, lies, and drama to the detriment of those involved.

What is the solution to this, if there is any?

Dare I suggest, we make a stronger more determined effort to model Christ-like behavior in our own lives; to walk the walk ourselves, so that they see a way that points to truth, a love that doesn’t count the cost or use, and obedience that disciplines the will conforming itself to God.

Persistence in prayer for one another will invoke the Spirit’s movement in their lives and ours. Attentive listening and availability to those who struggle is critical so that they can be wrapped in encouragement and love as they stretch, and grow into the fullness of God’s creation.

God allows U-turns, and do-overs and restarts. There is an essential need for us older brothers and sisters to show them the way. We must grow up and put away the things of our childhood without losing our childlike wonder and awe of God. Men must become men whose lives are in line with Christ.  We need your witness in faithfulness to family, wife, Church and what it means to lay down one’s life.

Ladies, our model is Mary our Mother; self-giving love and the great fiat. We must stop saying yes to sex outside of marriage and respect ourselves enough to say that we are worth waiting for. Crystalina Evert says that “a guy will be as much of a gentleman as we require.” We have the God-given power to help our brothers step up and be the protectors and defenders of our virtue, not the slayers and betrayers.

I know that I have been called to be in this place and time for a reason. Each and every one of us is here because God has a purpose and plan for our lives and a part to play in each other’s salvation.  May we see the unique role we play in this period in history, and become the saints so desperately needed.