Some new terms have entered our vocabulary:
Snowflakes: A mildly derogatory term often describing young people who are emotionally fragile, unable to cope with the rigors of life.
Safe spaces: Special rooms on college campuses for snowflakes to retreat from the harshness of reality. Here they can scream, cry, color, nap or engage in other therapeutic activities.
Comfort animals: When forced from their safe spaces, the snowflakes have their comfort gerbil (or rabbit, dog, goat, or other animal of choice) to help them cope with stress.
While it is easy to poke fun at such frivolous things, they are small tips of a much larger iceberg lurking beneath the surface of society. We seem to be a people less able to cope with the normal challenges of daily living.
Safe spaces have not been created as a haven from tragedy or calamity; rather, snowflakes are traumatized by such things as the outcome of a presidential election, the expression of non-progressive views by a visiting lecturer, or an ROTC chapter on campus. And while some run for their blankies and Crayolas to escape the madness, others find solace in much darker places.
What is going on?
This degree of emotional fragility is but a symptom of a cascade of ills plaguing us. They are the fruit of unintended consequences. It is not possible in this short article to identify all of the causes, but consider a few contributing factors: splintered families; lack of discipline; neglect; extreme overindulgence; material excess; unfettered access to the internet and social media; progressive attitudes fostered by public education; lack of civility in public discourse; premature sexual emphasis and expectations; alcohol and drug abuse. In short, we are reaping the whirlwind of telling God to buzz off, to leave us alone and let us live as we want. Turns out that being on our own in this world is a scary proposition.
So where does emotional stability come from? It comes from a relationship with our heavenly Father; our Savior, king and high priest, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Spirit who has revealed everything worth knowing about how to navigate life. What the Spirit reveals is that God is concerned with our comprehensive welfare (Mt 6:25-34; 7:7-11; Lk 18:1-8). We are the most valuable aspect of His creation, for we alone are made in His image (Gn 1:26; Jn 3:16). We have a purpose every day of our existence that goes beyond the insatiable, empty pursuit of pleasure and self-indulgence (Rom 12:1-2; 1 Cor 9:19-23).
What do such foundational supports help us do? Live securely in a world that vehemently opposes our views and values (1 Pet 2:12; 3:13-17). Live confidently in a world that seeks to destroy our worth (Rom 8:31-39). Live happily in the midst of violence, injustice, greed and other rampant vices (Ph 2:14-16; 4:6-9). Our emotional and spiritual strength comes from fellowship with God, and as we distance ourselves from Him, we are less able to cope in a healthy way. A comfort pet is a sorry imitation of the tremendous strength available through a righteous, loving and powerful Creator who always stands ready and able to comfort His children.