Have you heard of a gap year? It’s a period, typically an academic year, taken by a student as a break between high school and college, vocational school, or military service. President Obama’s daughter’s gap year announcement has recently made the news. In her case, I think it’s a good idea. She already faces a year of changes ahead, as her dad leaves office and the entire family moves and readjusts. Plus, she’s lived the past (at least) eight years in the spotlight. Not that she won’t have a spotlight on her once her dad’s out of office, but perhaps it will be just a little less after someone else is Commander-in-Chief.
But for those of us who grew up in the “push forward and work hard and don’t stop or you’re a slacker” era, a gap year is hard to swallow. Are these kids lazy?
Maybe a few are, but I think that’s a dangerous assumption to make. To be honest, not everyone knows what they want to do beyond high school. Or they know they have a long road ahead and want some prep time before diving into adulthood. Looking back, we might be able to say high school was easy and should be counted as a “gap” before real life, but for those in the middle of it or pushing through to the end, it can be stressful and demanding. Maybe some people choosing a gap year are not being lazy but smart, practical, and discerning.
Let’s be honest. There are gaps in all of our lives. Some we need, and some we don’t. Some we see, and some we don’t. We often see gaps in others. There are gaps between goals and where we are, our goals and reality. But isn’t that normal? When we’re working toward something, doesn’t that assume we’re not quite there?
Christians are often accused of being hypocritical, and they blame others of the same thing. What if we actually invited others into the gap between our goals and reality instead of pointing to hypocrisy? What if we tried to see the wisdom, practicality, discernment, and humility in the gap instead of the fault?