Living without hope is dangerous. In fact, people who attempt suicide often do so because they are experiencing intense psychological pain and have lost hope that things will get better. And I get it. Psychological pain is one of the very worst pains there is. Our bodies are capable of overcoming so much, but if the mind is robbed of expectation that things will ever improve, it’s dang difficult to carry on. Hopelessness is the most risky narrative we will ever write.
And because I believe in the power of the story, because I understand how utterly and completely devastating internal bashing can be, nothing pains me more than to hear someone verbally author their story of defeated desperation. Even if I can see hope glowing like a gigantic halo all around them, even if I know theories, techniques, and life changes that might really help them – it doesn’t effect much if I can’t help them believe it for themselves.
I want to give you a few tools that can help you overcome hopelessness. These are not extensive, exhaustive, and will not apply to everyone. They certainly aren’t to be used as a standalone if you are struggling with depression and/or suicidal thoughts. However, these are a few things that I think might help…and we’ve gotta start somewhere…
1. Blow up the positive. We can have 10 good interactions in a day, 5 neutral, 1 negative – and what will we remember? The negative one. What will become huge in our brains? Not the 10 positive, but the 1 negative. We will feed it until it grows into a big fat hairy good-consuming monster. One way to begin overcoming hopelessness making the difficult decision to take in the good and blow it up. To use our finely honed bad-dwelling skills, and switch them over to good-dwelling skills. Every time something good happens we must choose to be mindful of it, notice it, think about it, talk about it, and focus on it.
2. Choose to look outside of yourself. Hopelessness exists in isolation. It believes we are the only one struggling with what we are going through and that no one else could possibly understand or help. As a result, we recluse and hide. Open yourself up to the idea that although others may not completely understand what you are going through or be able to offer an easy solution, they likely do care and want to help. Take time to connect with others, even if they don’t get all that you are going through. Connection, even in small amounts, helps us find our way out of the darkness.
3. Plan for a plot twist. Just because your life has been in the crapper doesn’t mean it’s going to stay there. Even if it’s been in the crapper for years – it’s time to plan for change. Maybe you need to consider counseling, maybe medication, maybe you need to plan an exit strategy from circumstances that are causing you great distress, maybe it’s time to lay down some boundaries and stop letting people run over you…there are so many ideas…the possibilities of plot change are endless. But ending the story is not an option. Think about what you can do to plan a plot change, and even if a positive outcome appears unlikely to actually happen, try it and see what happens anyways.
4. Remember Jesus. The Bible says He is the anchor of hope for our souls. However, satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The enemy will do whatever he can to keep you in a state of depravity. He will tell you your story sucks and it’s never going to get better – but satan lies. He’s a big fat liar and he wants you to look for evidence that his lies are true. He wants you to believe God doesn’t love you and that this hope the Bible speaks of is less than reality. But we know better than that. Every tiny shred of God’s Word is true. He is your hope. Stop looking for evidence that He doesn’t love you, doesn’t care, and has abandoned you and start looking for evidence to the contrary. Start seeking Him in prayer, study, and Biblical community even if you feel like it’s the stupidest thing you have ever done and it couldn’t possibly help – do it anyways!
If we do all of these things, our life may not go through a sudden miraculous change. Circumstances may in fact remain the same, but the way we tell our story might shift. We might begin to see a tiny light of hope in the darkness. And even a tiny speck of hope can be an anchor for a gigantic ship. It can keep you steady in the storm.
If a narrative of hopelessness is the most dangerous story we could ever write, then a narrative of hope becomes the safest, most stable and strong story we could speak over ourselves. It’s a story of life and living. A story of redemption and restoration. It’s the sequel you have been waiting for and it starts right now.