Youth Lesson on Loneliness

Tonight we’re going to talk about loneliness at youth group, and how, in reality, we are never really alone. But at the same time, the feelings of loneliness are real in day to day life, and we should learn how to deal with them and be healed of them. We can also learn how to help others who are alone, and how to find them in the first place, because lonely people are everywhere, often right in front of us.

Dewey is going to share a short devotional he read the other day that he thinks is really good, and talks about how God is always there with us. I’ll probably come back and edit this post once I know what that’s about.

After that, we’re going to do a few activities centered around the theme. Not sure what order we’ll do these; maybe even go back and forth.

Movie Clips

There are countless movies that center around the theme of loneliness. Whether it’s someone living the self-empowered life of “if it is to be, it’s up to me” and “succeeding” in it while isolating themselves from all others, or someone who simply has no one else, it’s a common theme. I’ve found several clips on WingClips, and hope to share some of them right there with the youth, and talk about what we can get from them, and how they compare or relate to circumstances we find ourselves in, or others we are around.

Cars – Tickets for Friends

After receiving a call from his agent about free tickets, Lightening McQueen realizes that he has no friends to give them to. Themes: Loneliness, Friendship, Relationships, Self Realization, Priorities
I Am Legend – Not Alone

Despite there being no signs of life, Robert still sends out a signal to any possible remaining survivors, desperately seeking human interaction.
Gran Torino – Come Over

After Walt rescues both Sue and her brother Thao from street thugs, she invites him to her house for lunch.
 

Questions and Thoughts as clips are viewed…

  • Who are the “characters” involve here?
  • How did the lonely person come to be that way?
  • Is the lonely person “really” alone?
  • Do the people around the lonely person really understand him?
  • How does the story end? Is the hurt healed? Is the relationship mended?
  • What other stories / movies / books tell similar stories?
  • What part of your own life can you relate to this?

Game – Name that Lonely Movie / Story

For this part, I think we’ll divide them into “teams” of three to four people. Each time will review their story (movie, Bible Story, book plot, etc.) and then act it out for the rest of the group, trying to get them to guess the story without the use of words. Props would be encouraged, body language, moving around the room, etc…

Castaway – Trailer

A FedEx executive must transform himself physically and emotionally to survive a crash landing on a deserted island.
The Transfiguration
(Mark 14:32-42)

Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he told them, “Sit here while I pray.” Jesus took along Peter, James, and John. He was sad and troubled and 34told them, “I am so sad that I feel as if I am dying. Stay here and keep awake with me.” Jesus walked on a little way. Then he knelt down on the ground and prayed, “Father, if it is possible, don’t let this happen to me! Father, you can do anything. Don’t make me suffer by having me drink from this cup. But do what you want, and not what I want.” When Jesus came back and found the disciples sleeping, he said to Simon Peter, “Are you asleep? Can’t you stay awake for just one hour? Stay awake and pray that you won’t be tested. You want to do what is right, but you are weak.”Jesus went back and prayed the same prayer. But when he returned to the disciples, he found them sleeping again. They simply could not keep their eyes open, and they did not know what to say. When Jesus returned to the disciples the third time, he said, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough of that! The time has come for the Son of Man to be handed over to sinners. Get up! Let’s go. The one who will betray me is already here.
Job and His Three Friends
(Job 2:3-13)

Then the LORD asked, “What do you think of my servant Job? No one on earth is like him–he is a truly good person, who respects me and refuses to do evil. And he hasn’t changed, even though you persuaded me to destroy him for no reason.” Satan answered, “There’s no pain like your own. People will do anything to stay alive. Try striking Job’s own body with pain, and he will curse you to your face.” “All right!” the LORD replied. “Make Job suffer as much as you want, but just don’t kill him.” Satan left and caused painful sores to break out all over Job’s body–from head to toe.

Then Job sat on the ash-heap to show his sorrow. And while he was scraping his sores with a broken piece of pottery, his wife asked, “Why do you still trust God? Why don’t you curse him and die?” Job replied, “Don’t talk like a fool! If we accept blessings from God, we must accept trouble as well.” In all that happened, Job never once said anything against God.

Job’s Three Friends Eliphaz from Teman, Bildad from Shuah, and Zophar from Naamah were three of Job’s friends, and they heard about his troubles. So they agreed to visit Job and comfort him. When they came near enough to see Job, they could hardly recognize him. And in their great sorrow, they tore their clothes, then sprinkled dust on their heads and cried bitterly. For seven days and nights, they sat silently on the ground beside him, because they realized what terrible pain he was in.

 

Questions and thoughts to follow up each one:

  • How can we learn about someone’s loneliness? Body language, tone of voice, attitude, etc.
  • What can we do to reach out to someone in need like the people in this story?
  • How does this relate to your own life? Have you been on either side of the story here?

After all is said and done, wrap up with the reminder from the opening devotional that we never have to be truly alone. However, until we meet Jesus in a personal way, there will always be that “hole” that can only be filled by Him. What are some of the things we try to fill it with? Friends? Family? Drugs? Fun? How can we point out to ourselves, and to our friends, that none of these will really ever last or fill that hole?

Jesus said, as recorded in Luke 4: 

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

A Kitten Hunt

My family and I went on a walk this evening to visit our neighbors around the corner, about 1/2 mile from the house. Erin had some information to drop off, and it’s been a while since we were able to just stand around and talk. David was the only one home, so after about 10-15 minutes, it was time to head home (after Colton petted “one more” animal). As we’re walking down the driveway, one of their three kittens start to follow us. We try to scare them away, even throw wood chips at them, but nope, he’s set on following us. So we break into a run… me, my wife, and my son, all running away from this kitten that can’t weight more than a pound or two. We get a bit down the road, turn around, and… there are now THREE kittens following us, although they are a ways back now. So we hurry up and keep walking home, hoping they’ll get tired and turn around. We get around the corner so we can’t see them anymore, and of course Erin is a little concerned that we should make sure they get home “safe,” and then we see a black pickup slow down as if to avoid hitting them, and then… stop. Oh no. Did one of them get hit? Are they going to pick them up and steal them (although it’s much more common to see cats dumped out here, not picked up)? We go ahead and hurry home, with me promising to get in the truck and go over and take a look to see if (hopefully not) one of them got hit.

So I get in the truck, head over there, and notice the black truck is just pulling out of another nearby house’s driveway. Oh good, maybe they picked them up and took them over there, thinking that’s where they belong. So I go over and check, but no, there’s no kittens. So I hop back in the truck and decide to see if I can catch up and ask whoever’s in the truck if they saw and did anything with the kittens. I find the truck, about half a mile down the county road, and start to follow it, wondering if the lady (i can tell now) might stop. But no, she doesn’t. Do I flash my brights at her to ask her this silly question about kittens? Do I follow her till she stops? The road ends, and she turns, and I decide to give up. At least I’ve noticed it’s a black dodge with an “In God We Trust” license plate. Maybe I’ll put up a guilt-trip note at the local gas station to see if they might fess up to stealing my neighbor’s kittens. Oh well. I tried. But I sure feel sucky.

So I call my neighbors back, as the rest of the family just got home. No, the kittens have not come back. They are no where to be seen. I have nothing better to do, and am feeling bad, so I decide to go out looking for “The Black Dodge.” Mind you, it’s dark out now. And it’s been about 15 minutes. And country roads go many places. But it’s worth the effort, at least… I love these neighbors. So off we go, Rodney Atkins in the background… try one road until it turns back the way I came, and then try another road… and there it is, a house with a black dodge pickup in the driveway with an “In God We Trust” license plate. And the lights are on. So I do what most people would do… I drive past. But then I see someone on the porch so back up and yell at them, “Have you seen three white cats?”… Yeah… sounded dumb… but at least she couldn’t understand me over the truck’s diesel engine. So I park it, and head up to a house I’ve never seen, in the dark, to ask them if they might have just stolen three kittens.

The girl at the door says she wasn’t in the truck, let her go get her mom. So I wait, listening to people inside talk about soggy chips or something. And then this lady comes to the door, and I say something like, “I know this sounds kinda strange, but I’m looking for my neighbor’s cats. They live 2 miles from here but I saw a black dodge like yours stop near where they were last seen and I wondered if, by chance, you’d seen then or picked them up.”

And what do you know, I’ve got the right place! The lady had seen them walking down the road, didn’t want them to get killed, and picked them up. She went to one house to see if they belonged there, but no one was home. So she decided to try again after the sun came up. (Maybe that’s what I shoulda done?) So she sends her daughter to go get them (daughter didn’t know about them yet apparently), and then the daughter who didn’t know they were there proceeds to tell me the sex of each kitten. Go figure out how that works out… I don’t know. But I’ve got my treasure, I try to convince them I wasn’t assuming they’d stolen them to feed to their dogs (not exactly my words), and get back in the truck.

Call the neighbors, call my wife, thank the Lord, and head back home. Good old truck… thanks for another adventure.

Compassion

I’m reading a book called Fields of the Fatherless by C. Thomas Davis right now in my “spare” time. I picked it up for two reasons: First, it caught my eye with the “Fatherless” part of the title. Second, it was 75% off. The book is actually all about caring for those in need – orphans, widows, and strangers. Towards the beginning of the book, it asks the question, “what do the Fatherless look like today,” and gives these pictures:

  • A widower at church who always shares candy with the squirrely kids.
  • The girl who babysits your children and has no father at home.
  • The single mom next door who always seems to be harried – in and out of her car with kids, groceries, and work related paraphernalia.
  • The unruly little boy at your child’s class who keeps getting moved to another foster home
  • The only looking Asian college student waiting for the buss everyday as you pass by.
  • Even your own grandma who lost her husband 10 years ago and spends her days watching soap operas.

The book goes all through the Old and New Testaments, talking about God’s care and concern for these “strangers” in life, and how that concern was put into flesh by Jesus. It then goes on to talk about what we can do to make a difference in the lives of these people. I love this excerpt on the true meaning of compassion, which goes far beyond what we typically think of in our day to day lives:

The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, which together mean “to suffer with.” Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.

There you have it. The definition of compassion is about involvement. To be compassionate means to get out of the boat of our current circumstances and get into the boats of those who are suffering. We are called to bear the burdens of those who are in need of our companionship – to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).”

I love that. Compassion is not just about caring. It is about involvement… about doing something when you find someone in need that you can impact.

I’m looking forward to finishing the book. It’s a good read. On their website, they have this little poem, which I think summarizes the book, and the mission, well:

In this world you are an orphan—

eagerly anticipating your adoption as God’s child.

In this world you are a widow—

longing for reunion with your Bridegroom.

In this world you are a stranger—

a pilgrim waiting to become a citizen of heaven.

And in this world, God has called you to care for the orphan,
the stranger, and the widow. Fields of the Fatherless is a journey
that brings you back to what Christianity is all about:

Giving yourself to others

  Being Christ to a hurting world

And living for the one that comes next.