Blanket of Hopelessness, Part 1
Following are Youth Pastor Scott Bishop's notes for his first message on the blanket of hopelessness. We have done limited editing to retain the freshness of seventeen-year-old expression.
There are over one hundred reasons why a person calls forth the blanket of hopelessness. I hope to be able to explain some of the causes that bring one to declaring hopelessness over ones life.
What is hopelessness? Can you recognize it in yourself or in another?
Hopelessness is a loss of desire to keep on living
- An avoidance of following through on a good, purpose or desire
- To end all expectation of ever getting out of a pit or rut
- To cherish oblivion, nothingness, or an ending.
- To see tomorrow as deeper agony, futility and gloom.
- To loose all confidence in oneself, others and even in God to change one's circumstances, or to bring in joy.
- To loose the love contact with self, siblings, parents, and with God.
- To stay in self-condemnation and self-unforgiving.
- To loose one's desire to see visions, dreams and expectations of what one can accomplish.
- A state of endless melancholy.
- To strand oneself in a state of self pity.
- To annul all compliments, encouragements, and discipline in favor of staying in the dumps.
- To despair getting up to face a new day.
- To discourage oneself and others by a blanket of negativity or anger- rage or dismay.
- Carrying an oppression that pushes one to depression.
- Living in denial that peace, prosperity and joy are even possible.
As a teenager, who has lived through most of my teen years under the oppression of the time of sorrows, I see this blanket on nearly everyone in my age group. I see it affecting my parents and their age group. And I see it draining away hope from my younger sisters and their age group. Everyone nowadays seems to be carrying this blanket.
It feels like a great disaster is coming that everyone knows about, that no one can do anything about, and that no one can talk about because they do not see a solution. It also feels like everyone is being herded like cattle into a slaughterhouse for abuse, torture, and finally death, and then to be served up hot as a main course at someone's table.
My generation is bombarded by hopelessness, terror, corruption, and the worship of death in the music we hear, the books we read, the TV we watch and the movies we see. There is no good news, hopeful news, encouraging news, or positive sounds anywhere. We feel abandoned, lonely and depressed. It’s as though everything, everyone, and every sound is yelling at us, "End it now, or die in an eternal, tortured condition!"
Nothing that is going on today makes any sense. Everything done by governments seems so stupid and dense that hopelessness seems to just emanate from them. All of their organizations and treaties seem to be cosmetics, not solutions, and they just add to this weight of hopelessness
Where does one go to find hope where only hopelessness is being sold? We hear of global warming, yet we do not have the power to add to it or subtract from it. However, we are made to feel responsible for it. My generation feels totally burdened by events and responsibilities that we did not make, did not agree to, and most certainly did not approve of. Yet we are expected to correct the mistakes of a generation that refused to understand the laws of cause and effect. Our society believes in money as the cause and solution for everything, but it is only a tool, not a savior or creator of life.
It is very trying to go to school and learn things that have no bearing on improving our world's condition. It is even hard to try not to just run amok -- trying to get drugged up, or run from bed to bed seeking fleshly pleasures. Why not, some say, when you are shoved into a pit of learning more hopelessness on top of the burdens that my generation is forced to bear?
This is what I have learned about the causes and sources of the blanket of hopelessness.
- Lack. Wanting something but seeing no opportunity of having it.
- Loss. Loss of support, love and appreciation.
- Ingratitude and unthankfulness. Having chores and duties without appreciation.
- Family problems. Building mountains of problems, yet not working together for solutions.
- Burdens and pressures. Always present without release.
- Lies. From news, teachers, politicians, pastors, and even parents - truth is lost.
- Rejections. From family, friends, school, clubs, or even jobs.
- Not being forgiven, or seeing others being willing to forgive.
- Forced to be living another’s life of goals and diminished to fantasize one's own.
- Having to take on responsibilities beyond one's ability.
- Dealing with ranting, raving, and anger- rage yet having no say.
- Constant complaining from self or others. Positive prospects are not encouraged.
- Being made invisible. Not heard, not seen, not hugged.
- Being labeled by an authoritative figure (e.g. cancer, A.D.D., slow).
- Being constantly cursed. “Don’t be lazy…stupid!"
- Being in pain and not able to talk to anyone who understands the cause and effects of that pain.
- Being forced into things that do not inspire any interest.
- Being constantly disappointed by broken promises, broken commitments and missed appointments.
- Not able to see how God could possibly have the solution.
- Having too many problems and troubles with no answers, no helpful person with understanding.
- These 20 points seem to me to be the most common sources of hopelessness, or should we say the doorway by which hopelessness enters.
Now let’s look at some reasons (or fibers) that make up this blanket.
1. Lack of money. Having things you want to do yet can’t because of no money may be tolerable once in a while, but when it is constantly the stopper you feel its bite. Bitterness and hopelessness set in.
I would like to give more to the church and support the radio station, yet without money and a job I am made to feel helpless and hopeless.
I have a Ford Probe that I want to fix up and drive, yet with the funds available, a two-week repair job takes months and months, and this creates a dreary hopelessness.
I see people in my age group, all in the same position; they can’t get jobs, have no access to real money to participate in projects and to be able to plant positive, monetary seeds -- except into the benefits of sin.
Looking out at the world, all I see are money problems, debts, and hopelessness. The “what's the use attitude” is everywhere.
While I know that God’s Word says that what you sow you reap, I never sowed poverty yet I am reaping the debts of my nation, province, town, and society in my life and I carry their burden into my future. I see the sins of my country steal my future and the future and hope of everyone around me -- just more hopelessness.
The lack of money and the hopelessness it creates is one of the main building materials for this blanket of hopelessness, yet I see debts as wet cement weighing down the blanket.
Before hopelessness overwhelms me and I give up living, I remind my soul of the promises of God.
I give thanks and say:
"Father, thank You that Jesus is my Provider, Sustainer, and Deliverer from the pressures of this blanket of hopelessness. Thank you, Father, that as a tither, I have my needs met because of Your promises. Thank you, Father, that I have increase because of the offerings that I have given joyfully. Thank you, Father, for the hand of Jesus that walks me through every shadow of death -- and for knowing that He never leaves me nor forsakes me in the blanket of hopelessness."
2. Lack of fellowship. Teenagers do not like to be excluded from adult groups no matter what the subject. We like to be seen and heard. Believe it or not, teenagers have worthwhile opinions and they can and want to make sound choices and contribute to discussions. Being left out makes us feel incompetent, unwelcomed, unwanted, unloved, unworthy, unacceptable, and very hopeless and useless.
We want and need communication with parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts. We need our church brethren to support us, teach us, and acknowledge us.
When we are not invited to participate in conversations we feel like we are only slaves that are expected to carry out work demands. When we are only used and not heard, we rebel silently at first. If our upset is not noticed we become openly defiant and burdened in hopelessness.
3. Lack of friends is a big contributor to causing a blanket of hopelessness. It can be directly related to several angles of attack:
- Parents that do not approve or accept anyone their teenager brings home. When they have to find something wrong with everyone, and they never see any good in anyone, then teens feel lonely, miserable, and jailed.
- When parents act in such hormonal ways that is embarrasses us to be seen near them, let alone bringing a friend home to meet them. And when we have to hide our friends, we loose our balance as to what is right or wrong. 95% of the time we will make bad choices or not be able to learn from past mistakes, nor from our parents' past experiences.
- When parents let us become hermits instead of encouraging us to find interests that bring us into contact with others of our age group that have similar interests. And we need time to establish friendships as well as opportunity to have fun together. Without positive encouragements and positive contacts we become very moody, very hostile, and very hopeless.
Remember, teenagers as well as young children take their lead from how they see their parents act. Friendliness by the parents yield the ability and favor in teens to be friendly and acquire friends.
4. Lack of direction (goes along with #3) If parents have no direction in their life, this does not inspire the teenagers to develop sound direction. No spiritual direction hurts us the most. We need to see our parents following God in action, not just in word. If our parents do not bother to obey God, to be loving, to be responsible to what God wants for their life and ours, and if they do not show and live forgiveness, why would they expect us to do so? The more we see our parents disobey God, the more empty we become, the more frustrated we get with life, God, and parents, and the more we allow the blanket of hopelessness to smother us.
When we see our parents and other adults live in debts, live beyond their means, and then lie about it to themselves, us, and everyone else, such financial irresponsibility by adults does not give us hope, believe me.
When we see our parents avoid truth and reality, and even contact with one another, it does not give us hope for the future, that we will have a family of our own, that we will have some one to share our life, hopes, dreams and purpose. We want and need to be part of stability, love, and direction.
We know that God has said that he has chosen us for His family; He has given us a purpose, a dream, a vision,and His love. Yet we need to see direction in our family here and now before we can be motivated to change or grow in Jesus.
We do not need to see perfection, but we do need to see direction, or we take on the blanket of hopelessness.
5. Lack of acceptance is another very important cause for hopelessness. If we fail to do something, if we fail do achieve a grade, a score, a goal, or even a position, this does not mean we need to be ridiculed, put down, kicked, forced to eat in our room for a week, or even kicked out of the house. When we miss a mark set by a school, a parent, a community, by ourselves, or by God, we need to know and to feel that we are still accepted. We need to know that our acceptance is more than a score or a goal, but that our acceptance is real and founded in love. Acceptance in love means something permanent to us, yet acceptance with ridicule, put downs, or contempt is nothing less than rejection. In other words, we do not accept that type of acceptance; it says we are only kicking dogs for the release of others' frustrations.
Jesus, while speaking to Cain, said positive things to him in order to give Cain courage in saying no to failure and the power of sin. Even though Cain failed, and missed the mark constantly, Jesus gave him every opportunity to do what is right, to give acceptance and show love. Cain was never pushed into hopelessness by Jesus, but was by Adam.
In Gen 19:21, Abraham’s nephew, Lot, made a request to flee to Zoar, and was granted mercy and acceptance in spite of him many failings. Here are the words he heard: “Behold, I grant you this acceptance also. Lot’s request was accepted and shown as an acceptance. Our needs as teens are not always received as an acceptance, but they need to be, especially when we fail and fall short of others' expectations. Without this acceptance, the blanket of hopelessness falls upon us.
6. The lack of feeling and hearing that we want. This is similar to acceptance, but it means we are hugged often, told that we are appreciated, loved, wanted, and missed when we have been away for a while. Being wanted does not come across by demeaning and derogatory statements, such as the following:
- "Why don’t you get out of the house and do something?” This tells us you are tired of our presence. You would rather see us involved in illegal activities instead of being a part of the family and available for participation in the affairs of the family. We need to hear, “Can you help me do this.” “How about coming with me to the store?” “Do you want to go swimming with me?” we need positive statements that give us the choice and give us the feeling of being wanted, loved, thought about, and appreciated.
- “I’m going to drop you off at … while I go to dinner or to a show or shopping.” We do not feel wanted when we are told that we are being dropped off anywhere for any reason. It makes us feel hopelessly useless and unwanted, not cared about.
- "I need you to babysit.” This may make me feel needed and imposed upon, but it does not tell me that I am loved and wanted. When statements, requests and demands are put upon me without any consideration of what my plans are, what my needs might be or what state of mind I am in at the moment, it breads defiance and rebellion, not a sense of being wanted or loved. Have you ever considered I may be just sitting there quietly because my brain is in a hormonal turmoil and I cannot function with myself, let alone look with someone else?
- “If you do not get your room cleaned or these chorus done right now, you are losing your allowance for two weeks, and you are grounded until after the weekend.” The issuing of demands, orders, insults, threats, and words of intimidation may give you a release of your stress, but they do not motivate us or encourage us to know that we are wanted and loved. They do, however, make us feel unwanted, unloved, and unaccepted as people or a as growing adults who are trying to get a footing with all the changes that are taking place in our lives. A sense of hopelessness always follows negative demands and orders. It does eventually turn into the blanket of hopelessness.
7. Lack of being respected as a person, as one capable of having an opinion or idea. I have to learn how to be me and use the talents and gifts that God has given me. I cannot do that, and let you live your life through me. And I cannot take on responsibilities unless I can learn to voice opinions and ideas that can establish solutions. Nor am I able to understand where you are coming from and the what's and why’s of what you are saying. If I cannot ask questions without you flying off in an explosion of anger-rage and hostile threats, or irrational pouting and cursing, I do not feel respected. I do, however, feel invisible and not respected as a person.
I know I can not force you to change your approach or even the way you see me. But what allows me to stay out of suicide's hand and resist the weight of hopelessness is my Heavenly Father’s gift of knowing that He does respect me enough to answer questions when I ask Him for knowledge and understanding. My Father respects me enough to let me have a free choice, let me have opinions, and He lets me see myself as a person with a future, a purpose, and a hope. It’s just that so many try to make me forget it and want that blanket of hopelessness there, so that I am smothered by it.
8. Many adults deal with teenagers as though they are not needed, not able to learn, not able to get control of a sound direction in life and not able to identify RIGHT and wrong choices. Please understand this: if you do not let us challenge and prove your wisdom, your understanding, your conclusions, your theories, and your dogmas, then our innate desire to prove all things and to hold fast what is true as God has commanded cannot be fulfilled. This creates a frustration that leads us teens to suicide's door because we have no choice but to put on hopelessness, and bind it with frustrations.
All children learn by testing and trying things until we either get bored of it or we have understanding. In a society of deception and lies we need to challenge everything, everyone and every decree -- not out of disrespect, but out of this innate need to know and prove things.
When this is discouraged, blocked, condemned, or even when it is mocked, we die little by little inside until there is only emptiness, coldness, and hopelessness. We need you to understand and be patient, because growing up in these last days is very hard and has its own hopelessness attached to it.
9. The lack of real love, real compassion, and real appreciation. The genetic codes that make us up and cause us to be who we are came from you; we did not make them up by ourselves. We are the oneness of what was sown in love, yet there is more rejection and disrespect being shown then love. Or to put this concept another way, teens believe that their parents joined in marriage because of love, not lust, and that they were born out of that love. Yet they are mystified as to what happened to it now when they need to see it the most, feel it the most, and be able to return it with increase as the most they can give.
We need to see, feel and touch real love, real compassion, and have real appreciation. This issuing of orders, directives, commands, or nagging just won’t do. You cannot substitute what is real for what is false and then not put a blanket of hopelessness over us.
We do not want to feel that you are doing something out of duty or routine when we are in your presence. A hug is just a duty unless love is attached. A kiss on the cheek or forehead is just for your satisfaction unless it is done with truth from your heart. A word of appreciation is just hot air in our face unless we can feel and acknowledge it as real.
A blessing issued without real love and truth is mockery to our heart and ears; it binds us to role-playing, lying. and delusion.
We need real love, or we need to fill the vacuum with something -- booze, sex, drugs, defiance, anger-rage, frustration, or else the blanket of hopelessness takes us down. Oppression, despair, dismay and discouragement smother us until we abort our life or kill others that have what we need and long for.
10. The lack of being sheltered and defended. I am not talking here about not having a house or apartment to live in. What I mean by lack of being sheltered and defended is this:
- Being within boundaries that our parents enforce and defend. We are told what is right and the WHYS. We are told what is wrong and the whys
- We are taught how to rely on God, speak His word, and the why’s behind it. And this means by seeing our parents adhere to it as though it is the most important aspect of life itself. A wishy-washy approach or excuse-filled approach just makes us feel hopeless.
- If we make a mistake, we are forgiven. It is not discussed with friends, relatives or church members again. When we cannot live beyond our mistakes, outside of the attacks of gossip, ridicule, condemnation, and being painted into a corner or laid out naked on a table for everyone to stare at, and we are not defended, we become hopeless. We expect to be sheltered from that abuse, not made the object of it by our parents or grandparents. Home should be a safe place to make a mistake and learn and grow from it, not the place of butchering.
- When others accuse us, demean us, label us, slander us, or even condemn us, we want our parents to defend us -- not join in for our destruction and demoralization. We expect our parents to be our supports and defenders while we are being attacked, cursed, or put down -- even if we did make an errors in judgment or bad choices. We still want and need parental defenders who teach boundaries.
- When we bring friends over, we need to know that no matter what you may think of them personally, our friends are made to feel accepted and acknowledged. It may be your house, but it is our home. When our friends are not made to feel welcomed, our peer group attacks us and curses our family. A teen sees the way you treat our friends as to how secure and loved we are. When they feel the sense of being sheltered and defended is lost, so are we, in hopelessness and despair.
11. A lack of real encouragement, positive involvement, and genuine interest. You may have forgotten but changing from child hood to adulthood is not the easiest change to make. Our ability to be involved, active, coordinated, alert, cordial or teachable depends on what is happening in our body.
We need positive involvement in our life, not just orders and judgmental comments.
- What we eat and drink does effect our moods and attitudes, and your positive involvement in that will not only help us, it will definitely help you also. Arrange for us to have good, vitamin-rich foods to eat and enough of them.
- What we watch and listen to affects not only our attitudes but our ability to learn, cooperate, be involved, study, and even remember who you are or what you are talking about. Find positive uplifting music to be played in the house. Find movies that are good for our brain, mind, and give peace to our souls. Even what we read needs help from you.
- Help us find our talents, our goals, and our purpose in life so that you can encourage us in what we can excel at and do joyfully. When you try to impose your life losses upon us, that is, to do what you always wanted to do, you only discourage us.
- Help us experience new things so that we know you are interested in our development and our needs. The more new things we experience, the easier it is for us to adjust to the rapid pace of changes taking place in the world. Even if you cannot keep up with the changes, help us learn how to adjust and evaluate the light of God's Word so that we have a stable way of evaluating what is right and what is wrong. Without this type of support we gather hopelessness around us like a blanket that is bound up in despair.
- When parents give us an opportunity to talk about difficult subjects, it establishes trust and their willingness to answer difficult questions tells us that adults have an interest in us. We are thus willing to give a fighting opportunity to succeed positively in a very negative world.
12. We are left alone to dwell on failures, mistakes, and the lustful advances from others. Being in a quiet time for a short while can be helpful to us, but being left alone to mope, pout, fantasize, be tempted by sin, and have to also dwell on past mistakes and failures is a recipe for suicide, murder, and hopelessness.
Teens do need extra sleep, especially in growth times because it tires us greatly and without it we become like zombies. On the other hand, we become moody and unreasonable and when we have too much sleep or when we have too much time alone or too much time to replay negative events in our life. Most teens function very well on 9 to 10 1/2 hours of sleep per day. 12-15 hours means something is very seriously wrong. It could be that the blanket of hopelessness has overwhelmed that teen. Teens do need to learn how an adult should deal with failures, setbacks, or poor performances. They cannot always be expected to run home to mommy or to hide in their bedroom for a week or two. To a teen failures, mistakes, set backs, or poor performances are associated with worthlessness and hopelessness. And parents need to know that the pain has to be dealt with first before the cause of the problem can be accepted. A long silent hug does more than a million words in subduing pain. And a warm friendly face does more than a thousand excuses for what went wrong.
This blanket of hopelessness can be broken, cut off, and destroyed from teens and adults; however, it takes many working together to keep it off. and that means Jesus and the Holy Spirit have to be involved