Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Rethinking the Enemy III

Young people today have to decide whether or not they will agree with the voices that eventually lead to despair. If they start agreeing with statements like those, it won’t be long until they find themselves becoming more and more cynical and fatalistic about life in general.

Adolescents often verbalize those statements that they’ve agreed with, declaring that they are “unlucky” or “dumb.” It would be easy to dismiss those sentiments as nothing more than teen angst, but let’s look at what is really happening on a deeper level. For example, if Danielle is spurned by a boy that she really likes, she might be presented with the lie that she is “unlovable” or “unattractive.” If she, in her mind and heart, agrees with this assessment—however absurd—she will begin to behave as if she were unlovable or unattractive. This behavior in turn will invite others to treat her in the same way. In essence, we teach others how to treat us. When Danielle hears these messages from both herself and others around her, she may be tempted to evaluate other situations in her life through the same discouraging lens.

When Ted is cut from the basketball team, he might be exposed to the lie that he “will never amount to anything” or is “a failure.” Believing this lie, he might find himself fearful of trying new things, in an attempt to shield his heart from rejection.

Here we have two young people who have the potential to be great men or women, to live and love, perhaps affecting the lives of countless thousands or even millions. Instead, through the snare of agreeing with the villain in their stories, they find their hearts bound with the chains of cynicism, despair, depression, and fear. They lose, and the world loses. How does one overcome treacherous assaults such as these? No one wants to look at life with that kind of trepidation. So, how do we help young people avoid this pitfall?

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