Pastoral Counseling Network

Hopefulness

Hope is an essential part of a strong mental health. Hope is a pillar which affects your whole mental and emotional outlook. You may ask why is hope so important? It's because hope provides each of us with insulation against anxiety and depression. In part I of this series we highlighted that thoughts create our feelings. The thoughts we harbor can be powerful medicine for us. Hopeful thoughts teach our hearts to persevere, to never give up, to seek the possible inside of the impossible.

Hope is indispensible to our emotional well being because it prepares us for the inevitable. Sooner or later, we will experience setbacks. And when life circumstances knock us down, hope is in the other room, planning our comeback. Hope looks at our setbacks opportunistically. Hope recognizes that talent can only take us so far. Lasting success is hammered out on the anvil of mature character. When we use our challenges to shape our character, we can view setbacks optimistically: as a strategy for resiliency and transformation.

Hope is sassy. Hope helps us to remember that the power to change is an inside job, and because of this, we can look at any problem and see it through the lens of hope. We really don't think about hope unless it is juxtaposed against the backdrop of despair. When we come across life challenges that throw us into an uncomfortable tug of war between our best self and our scary self, zigzagging between hanging in and giving in, between believing but asking God to help our unbelief, between standing sometimes in the bright sunshine of daylight, and at other times being driven back into the onyx midnight of disappointment.

The gift of hope is that it takes the worse setbacks we can experience and dares to rise back up and defiantly say, "I'll find a way." Hope never allows our trials to have the final word. It's rooted in the belief that the power to change and adapt to the demands that confront us, is hard-wired inside of us. Hope is based on the belief that with God's help, we can always find a way, not only to make it, but to thrive, regardless of the situation.

This brand of hope generates great mental health, because it has an uncanny ability to keep our outlook positive despite the inconvenience of hardship. Hope makes a difference. Hope helps us in three (3) important ways:

  1. Hope Looks Beyond - Hope is transcendent, that is, it rises above our challenges and directs us to our greater good. Hope refuses give up on tomorrow's gain just because it causes us today's pain. Hope doesn't get bogged down in negativity because it knows that a brighter day is coming. Hope's message is that no matter how dark the night, it has to say "uncle" to the light of dawn.

  2. Hope Looks Within - Good mental health is an inside job. So when external circumstances get cloudy, hope just looks for the light within, that can never be shut off. Inside light, and inside strength, is light and strength we control. We don't control the universe, but we do get to control the breath of our smiles.

  3. Hope Looks Through - Hope has x-ray vision. It doesn't stop when we run up against a wall. Hope just sees through the problem until it discovers a solution.

Hope is a perspective that empowers us to never give up. Hope always looks for the best. It never rests until it sees a problem transform into a resource for healing and growth.