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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.

 

The Importance of Self-Talk When Overcoming Depression

The relationships around you can oftentimes influence your struggle with depression. But before you continue examining others, pause for a moment and take a good, deep look at you. Perhaps the most fundamental relationship you have is not with someone else it is with yourself. Though you interact with others, you are also in constant communication with yourself through self-talk. This inner dialogue sets the stage for how you respond to life.

When you are depressed, your self-talk can become one-sided, centered on negative dialogue of despair, regrets, frustration, confusion, and doubts. The voice of forgiveness is rarely heard, and the chorus of optimism, hope, and joy are drowned out. Take some time to think about how you treat yourself. Are you your own drainer or filler? Do you make it a habit of pointing out the positive? Or is your self-talk a constant stream of emphasizing the negative? How do you talk to yourself when you make a mistake? How do you talk to yourself when negative circumstances occur?

If your self-talk is out of balance, your ability to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself is compromised. It becomes difficult to escape the constant chatter of negativity inside your own head. Even more devastating, the more we think a certain way, the more likely we are to believe ourselves, manifesting our thoughts into reality.

Escaping this pattern of negative self-talk is a great challenge, and requires a consistent, long-term effort. It begins with simply observing your thoughts. Throughout the course of the day, try to step outside yourself and be an onlooker to your stream of consciousness. What types of thoughts are you having? Where do they come from? Where do they lead? Are they primarily positive or negative? Try not to pass any judgment on your thoughts, but just observe them as they pass through. Having awareness of your thoughts is an important first step towards shifting your thought patterns.

The next step in working toward a healthier relationship with yourself is through more realistic and truthful self-talk. There is great value in acknowledging and affirming the truth, both about situations and about yourself. By focusing on objective truths, you are able to avoid any subjective, and oftentimes negative, judgments.

Finally, another strategy to help improve the quality of your self-talk is to focus on the things you’re grateful for. When you observe your thoughts wandering towards negativity, don’t get angry with yourself. Instead, stop whatever you’re doing and think about something or someone that you are grateful for. This will immediately divert your mind from negative self-talk and redirect it towards the uplifting, positive aspects of your life.

Overcoming depression requires a multifaceted approach—both internally and externally. While there are many thought patterns that you can shift internally to help shake the feeling of depression, oftentimes people struggling with depression need external help. At The Center • A Place of HOPE, we understand the importance of holistic treatment,  If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, call to get the help you deserve.

The Power of Intentional Response: Positive Self Talk

If you know what it’s like to feel at the mercy of your mood, you may be pleasantly surprised to realize you have more power than you think. In fact, what you’re thinking is the very thing that can determine whether your mood turns good or bad.

Every day, we have experiences that illicit in us automatic emotional reactions. Sometimes they’re positive, like the way we react to a hug, a compliment, or a chat with a close friend. But sometimes they’re negative, like the way we react to dropping a glass on the kitchen floor, getting cut off on the freeway, or having a conflict with a colleague at work.

Considering that each of these negative examples are common occurrences we all experience now and then, the impact we allow them to have on our day may seem disproportionate. Why? Because these kinds of events trigger negative self-talk that reinforces core beliefs we have about ourselves, other people, and the way the world works:

“I can’t do anything right.”

“People are so inconsiderate.”

“I don’t get along with anyone.”

While you may have no control over thoughts that pop into your head, you do have control over the thoughts you choose to have in response:

“I choose to accept and grow from my mistakes.”

“I choose to forgive the mistakes of others.”

“I choose to accept others for who they are.”

Of course, it doesn’t take any notable event for negative self-talk to play in our brains all day long. For many of us, it’s ingrained. If this sounds familiar, you may want to try an exercise we use in depression therapy at A Place of Hope.

Make a list of all the negative messages you remember hearing throughout your life, and to whom these messages may be attributed. Then, for each negative message on the list, write down a counteracting positive statement.

Note, positive self-talk is not self-deception, as explained in my book, Turning Your Down Into Up: A Realistic Plan For Healing From Depression:

“Positive self-talk is not mentally looking at circumstances with eyes that see only what you want to see. The practice of positive self-talk is often the process that allows you to discover the obscured optimism, hope, and joy in any given situation.

“Positive self-talk is about recognizing the truth, in situations and in yourself. “

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