Posts

The Power of HOPE

To understand the true power of hope, I think it’s a good idea to contemplate what the world would look like without hope. It is a world without anticipation, without desire or expectation—a flat, monochrome world with only a single what-is view. First Chronicles 29:15 calls it a shadow world.

Over my time in counseling, I have seen too many people trapped in this shadow world without true hope. I have seen them desperately reach for anything—harmful, dangerous, destructive, false—to try to provide some sort of color of hope in the shadow. Imagine my position—within their world without hope I have to tell them that the one thing they cling to for a modicum of hope really isn’t hope at all. I have to point out the painfully obvious: The hope they cling to—whatever it is—is false hope.

If this is all I did and all I could offer, I wouldn’t do it. It would be too bleak. I praise God, however, that my job isn’t just to point out false hope but to point toward true hope. This is hope that sings with a symphony of desire, expectation, trust, sweet anticipation, and even sweeter fulfillment. This is hope that sings with God’s voice. This is not a shadow world; it is quite literally heaven. And what I get to do is show people the way to find their own patch of heaven on earth, through an understanding and connection to true hope.

Now that’s a job I believe in. It’s why The Center I founded thirty years ago has become knows as A Place of HOPE. It is a place where people find the strength and courage to give up their false hopes and the joy to discover their true hope. Hope has come to color everything we do, from the name of our website to titles on my books to our theme verse of Jeremiah 29:11. People come to us riding on the exhausted, failing horses of false hope and leave soaring on the wings of true hope.

This is not an easy journey. It’s not even an intuitive one for many. Letting go of the reins of a false hope in order to place yourself within reach of true hope is very much a leap of faith.

I love the Indiana Jones movies with Harrison Ford. There is a scene in the third movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where in order to save his dying father, Indy must successfully navigate a series of tests to reach the Holy Grail. At one point, Indy reaches a place where he must make a proverbial leap of faith.

Finding himself thwarted on the wrong side of a bottomless chasm, Indy must leap out into the apparent nothingness of space in order to keep going. He steels himself and steps out into the air of the abyss, only to land on a thin stone bridge that was impossible to see before. Once he realizes the path is there, that it is real, he successfully makes his way safely across to find the Grail and save his father. The path across was there the whole time; he just couldn’t see it. The only way to see it was to trust it was there.

The leap between false hope and true hope can be very much like that step into nothingness. On the one side, the false hope seems so substantial, so present, so there. The false hope is a known quantity. Even though a part of you knows it doesn’t live up to its promises and you won’t get to where you need to go by sticking to your false hope, another part of you is terrified of the abyss you’re stepping out into in order to grasp hold of true hope.

You are terrified of the unseen. It is that unseen nature of true hope that requires this leap of faith.

With an excessity, you know what you already have. Hopefully, by now, you recognize that what you have really isn’t much and that you’ve been putting all of your hope and trust in a dead horse, unable to save you. It’s time to let go of the known—the seen—and reach toward something better, something unseen.

Hope, then, is a leap of faith. Hope and faith are linked. It takes faith to hope, and hope fuels faith. It’s time to place your hope and faith in something more reliable, more trustworthy, than an excessity.

 Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE  and author of 35 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety, and others.

 

 

Pouncing on the Positive Threads in Your Life

Negative threads have a way of weaving into your life with very little effort. They are simply part of your world. Picking those threads out is very helpful. It is also helpful to pack your life with so many good and positive things there isn’t much room left for anything else. Knowing this, you must be very intentional about pouncing on the positive threads that abound each day and making sure to weave them tightly into your life.

This is similar to growing a healthy green lawn. The positives in life are the blades of grass. The negatives in life are the weeds. In order to grow a healthy green lawn, you need to remove the weeds, but you also need to fertilize the grass. When the grass is fertilized, it fills in the holes left by the weeds. The thicker the grass, the harder it is for the weeds to get a foothold. Your life is kind of like that; the more positives you grab a hold of and integrate into your life, the harder it is for those stray negatives to find a place to land.

Some of you will complain that there is very little positive in your life to grab on to. This may be because you’ve stored up so much pain that there isn’t room in your life or heart for much else. Focusing on the negatives often blinds you to seeing the positives. So, be patient with yourself and start small. Start by recognizing there are positives in this world. The apostle John says, “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another” (John 1:16).

It is all too easy in life to see the negatives, to concentrate on the frustrations, problems, challenges, irritations, and annoyances. Sometimes, it can seem as if these are the only things that come your way. But the positives are often hidden beneath the clamor of the negative and must be looked for and focused on.

This is something Julie needed to learn how to do. Growing up, Julie had learned from her parents that she was not special. In fact, she had been told on multiple occasions that she was a “mistake.” She’d heard her parents refer to her the way she was the “mistake baby,” born long after her parents thought they were through having children. Julie always felt like she was in the way of her parents’ jobs and activities. They would often remark that they were “too old” or “too tired” and often used this as an excuse to distance themselves from her life.

Living as an only child for most of her childhood because her siblings were grown and gone from the house, she had only herself for company. She struggled in school, unlike her older, smarter siblings. Naturally shy, she tended to blend into her surroundings, instead of standing out like her sister and brother, who appeared to excel in whatever they did. No, Julie wasn’t special, and she learned not to expect anything special happening to her.

In order for Julie to break free of this shell of mediocrity she placed around herself, she needed to start seeing the positives in her life. She needed to start seeing herself as a positive in this world, instead of some sort of neutral. Her assignment was to come up out of her shell and concentrate on the positives. She was to be alert and watchful for them. When something positive occurred or a positive thought broke through to her mind, she was to pounce on it! The more positives she pounded on, integrating them into her life, the more positives she saw.

You can be like Julie and learn to pounce on positives. As John says, these blessings are real and out there and available for you to grab on to (John 1:16). Hold each positive up to the light; think about it. Meditate on it. Allow it to fill your mind and thoughts.

By doing this, do you realize you are actually thinking about and meditating on God and his character? God is the source of all good, all positive, in this world. By focusing always on the negative and disbelieving the positive, you devalue the power of God in your life. God is not powerless to provide your life with positives. Did you know God refers to himself as “Almighty” more than three hundred times in the Bible? God is not just powerful, he is Almighty, and that includes over your life and thoughts.

Go ahead and pounce on some positives

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression and looking to find your path to happiness, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help. In addition to physical, mental, and emotional treatment of depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE offers Christian support to address the spiritual components and struggles in a person’s life that affect grief and depression. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a depression recovery specialist today.

 

Depression: Evaluating Your Activities

A familiar childhood fairy tale is “The Three Little Pigs.” Each pig builds his house out of a different material in order to protect himself from the huffing and puffing of the big, bad wolf. The house made out of straw is the one made of brick. Even though it takes more time and work, the brick house is seen as worth the effort because it provides lasting protection.

How does this relate to depression? By examining your life patterns and making positive changes requires your time and effort, but doing so is like building your personal house out of brick. By making changes, and understanding the need for those changes, you are construction—brick by brick—a strong, resilient house that can stand up to the huffing and puffing of life’s storms.

While constructing your house with brick, you’ll also need to remove some of the inferior materials you’ve used to patch weak spots. Remember, this restructuring process will not diminish you but make you stronger. Consider this process of taking stock of your life as your own personal remodeling project.

As you spend time thinking about the activities you are currently engaged in, and whether or not those activities are filling or draining, the key to these activities is in finding a healthy balance for you. This will depend upon your personality, your stage in life, and your unchangeable life factors. You may be the sort of person who simply needs more time to be inactive or still than others seem to need. Or you may be the kind of person who is energized by activity and interaction.

While it is possible to alter your personality to some degree, each of us has individual traits that we need to factor into our activities. We are not alike, and the same activity or activity level will affect us differently. Some of the many positive outcomes from overcoming depression can be a deeper understanding of your personality, insight into what characteristics you want to enhance and strengthen, and knowledge of what aspects you are ready to change or let go.

In balancing your activities, be aware of any that are negative and occur frequently. These are activities you will want to evaluate for change.

It may not be possible for you to completely eliminate a significant draining activity in your life, but it is possible to evaluate that activity and intentionally purpose to find ways to make that activity include filling moments. Sometimes the filling aspects of a draining activity come from the relationships you build with others as you go through that activity. Don’t overlook the silver lining of friendships in the storm clouds of life.

As you continue to evaluate your list of activities, look for filling activities that occur infrequently. Determine whether or not you are able to increase the frequency of these activities. Is there any way to engage in a similar activity that will also be personally filling? You may take an art class once a week that is personally rewarding but are not able to devote the time for another class. You can, however, get outside and walk through your neighborhood, letting nature’s canvas inspire you for that one class you can take. It is amazing how such small changes can add optimism, hope, and joy to your life. Moving forward doesn’t always happen in giant leaps. Sometimes, the most significant progress is made in a series of small steps.

If someone you know is suffering from depression, remember that it’s important to seek professional guidance when diagnosing and treating depression. For more information about depression treatment, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today. The Center • A Place of HOPE was recently ranked as a Top 10 facility in the country for the treatment of depression, and our team is standing by to help you and your loved ones.

Sustaining Optimism, Hope and Joy: Keys to Emotional Equilibrium

It is vital for your emotional equilibrium that you counterbalance anger, fear, and guilt with optimism, hope, and joy. The promise of the whole person approach means that the healthy aspects of a person can support the weaker characteristics until the whole person is strong and well. Intellectual, relational, physical, and spiritual aspects of your life can also assist you in sustaining the life-affirming emotions of optimism, hope, and joy.

Intellectual Support

To support emotional balance, be aware of the information you are feeding your mind. Try reading a positive, uplifting book, and intentionally set aside time in your day to fill yourself up intellectually with constructive, encouraging messages. Be aware of what you are reading and listening to, and seek to counter the negative input we all get as a part of our day with positive influences.

Relational Support

Think of a person you really enjoy talking to, someone who makes you feel good about yourself or someone who’s fun to be around. It could be a family member, coworker, teller at the bank, or anyone who brings a smile to your day. Intentionally plan to spend time with that person, even if it’s just for a moment or two. Make the effort to verbalize your appreciation for his or her positive presence in your day.

Physical Support

Physical activity is a wonderful way of promoting emotional health. Engage in some mild exercise this week. Take a walk around the neighborhood. Stroll through a city park. The goal is two fold: to get your body moving, and to allow you to focus on something other than yourself and your surroundings. Take a little time when you’re in the neighborhood and greet your neighbors. Stop while you were at the park and watch someone playing with his dog, or cheer at a Little League game. Intentionally open up your focus to include the broader world around you.

Spiritual Support

Take some time to nourish your spirit. If you are a member of a religious organization, make sure to attend services this week. If you are not, listen to some religious or meditative music. Spend time in quiet reflection, meditation, or prayer. Intentionally engage in an activity that replenishes and reconnects your spirit.

Each of these actions may seem unachievable, given the way you feel. Please, do them anyway. If you are emotionally out of sync, you can’t rely on how you’re feeling to determine what you do. Each of these actions, done intentionally, will help you in two ways: (1) they will assist you in focusing on optimism, hope, and joy; and (2) they will reinforce the truth that you can intentionally respond to life and it’s circumstances. You can choose. Today, choose optimism, hope, and joy.

If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, The Center • A Place Of Hope can help. Call 1-888-771-5166 / 425-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone will be in touch with you soon.

The content of this post was derived from: 2013 Gregory L. Jantz, Turning Your Down into Up, WaterBrooks.