According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, “hope” can be defined as a desire or belief that something is true, or that it can or will occur. Hope is an important component of change – it motivates us to take action and to persevere towards our goals. But sometimes it is difficult to hold onto hope, especially when that hope is rooted in our abilities, our will, or even our friends and family. Why? Because we are not perfect. We’re fallible and broken. Although our will may be strong, if we are honest, it is not that strong. When we lose the desire or expectancy that there is something better for us, we can lose motivation for change. We start to feel down, we become overwhelmed, and the future begins to look grim. What do we do when change feels insurmountable? What do we do when we start losing hope that change can and will happen? Here are my tips as a Christian counselor that will enable you to Increase Your Hope for Change:
1. The Foundation of Your Hope
Examine the foundation of your hope. I believe that change is possible for everyone – regardless of where they have been, what has occurred in their past, and where they are now – as long as they desire change and are willing to work towards it. I have hope for change in your life because I believe that God is the Ultimate Healer. I believe that God loves you, offers healing, and desires new life for you, which includes intimacy with Him and with others. If God’s Son, Jesus Christ, conquered death, then I believe that He can help you to experience freedom and healing to pursue Him and the plans that He has for your life.
2. Ask God for His Help
Ask God to increase your hope and to give you the strength to pursue change. I know that it is difficult to sustain your hope that things can change for the better. Perhaps the last time you hoped you took a risk and were disappointed. Perhaps hope seems foolish to you and you view it as simply idealistic. I encourage you to ask God to increase your hope. This is not hope in your own abilities, but in His character and in the Holy Spirit’s power. Ask God to give you the strength and the trust in Him that will enable you to pursue change.
3. Relationships Give Rise to Hope
Surround yourself with hopeful people. It is really difficult to pursue change without the encouragement and support of others. Isolation can stifle hope. Surround yourself with people who are hopeful and whose foundation for hope is in Someone greater than themselves. Relationships are a gift and hope is contagious. Sometimes we need to “borrow” hope from others when we are having trouble holding onto it for ourselves. It takes courage and humility, but I encourage you to reach out to people in your life, such as your friends, family, significant other, mentor, pastor, or neighbors. Tell them that you are struggling and that you desire change.
4. Is Christian Counseling for You?
Consider possible avenues of change. Realizing that there are multiple ways to pursue change can increase your hope that change is possible. I believe that God has given us many resources to facilitate change (e.g. exercise, healthy eating, relationships, community, science). God has also given us psychology as a gift that can help us to understand Him and ourselves better. God uses counseling to help us to grow and change. Christian Counseling might be helpful for you if:
- You have tried different avenues of change already and they have not seemed to help much.
- Your friends and family have been supportive, but you are looking for a neutral party to provide a listening ear.
- You don’t feel safe opening up to your friends and family, but you don’t want to pursue change on your own.
- You are finding that past relationships or experiences seem to be hindering your current relationships and who you want to be.
- You just don’t feel good about yourself, even though people affirm you and try to bolster your confidence. Perhaps you have never really felt confident.
- You have tried to control your emotions (e.g. anger, anxiety, sadness) but just can’t seem to get a handle on them and they are affecting your daily responsibilities, physical health, sleep, and/or your relationships.
- You are having difficulty “figuring yourself out.” Perhaps you don’t even feel like yourself these days.
- You really desire change and growth, but you find it difficult to feel motivated and to concentrate.
5. Be Practical
Take practical steps to pursue change. Once you have considered possible avenues of change, take the necessary practical steps to walk down one of those avenues. You could ask a friend to help you make a phone call for additional information about gym membership, go grocery shopping for healthier foods, talk with your pastor about getting involved at church, etc. The act of pursuing change will increase your hope that change is possible.
Christian Counseling Can Rekindle Hope in Your Life
As a Christian counselor, my hope for change in your life is rooted in the Lord’s character – in His goodness, His love, and His grace. I believe that nothing is wasted in God’s eyes – no experience, lost dream, or time of waiting. God is a God of redemption and He takes what was difficult and even painful and uses it for your good and His glory. God is at work in my life and I believe that He is and will continue to be at work in yours. As a Christian counselor, I offer you my hope in God’s character, as well as my clinical expertise and professional support. If you would like to pursue counseling with me, we will take a realistic look at your life and what you would like to change. We’ll work towards that change together and the growth that occurs will be the result of God’s power and grace. Hope isn’t foolish when our hope is in the Lord.