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How To Cope with Hopelessness

The title of this post was the title of an article by a writer for the Washington Post in February 2023. Perhaps the algorithm chose me to see it because I was feeling hopeless myself but it signaled to me there were too many in America with a deep need for something more or maybe even less. For many hope is considered a happiness element dependent on dopamine, healthy life circumstances and a well-balanced diet. When I googled "how to deal with hopelessness", I came across many mental health perspectives. But there are many things about hope most are missing out on. Hope exists in another layer of humanity. It communicates with the soul. Hope is a presence within someone's character that is steady no matter how bad things get. It is a peace that embodies the mind and heart.

During Christ's ministry on earth, He drew himself to those who needed hope the most. Jesus did not tolerate people pointing fingers. Although He was certainly credible to judge wrong doing, He didn't give those who abused power much attention. Those who were in the most vulnerable positions were provided the most strength and most of His time. Many confronted him with questions. Jesus questioned motivation and lectured on love being the center of God's message to humanity.

I personally have found myself in deep hopelessness. Looking back, I didn't realize how dark it was - I just knew things needed to change. So, if you are feeling hopeless, I suggest a few initial steps to revive a spiritual practice. I want to preface that I am not a theologian, sociologist, psychologist or psychiatrist. Please refer to your local priest, pastor, and credible resources. If you are having thoughts of suicide, experiencing depression or anxiety symptoms, reach out for help.

  1. Because many, including myself, have been part of unhealthy church cultures, I think it is important to look back on any hurt or wrong doing experienced within the church. There are many wonderful ministers and ministries out there, but some unfortunately are full of greed and wrong doing and should be entirely avoided. Talk to a friend or someone you trust about it. Ask your friend to just listen and allow your thoughts to process before they respond with support, encouragement or criticism. It is important to remind yourself of things that should not have happened and filter out those bad experiences.

  2. Many churches in the US teach just a fraction of scripture. With a logical, scholarly mindset, open a bible and begin reading one of the books. There are 66 books to choose from. If you are unsure how to start, I suggest beginning with Matthew Chapters 1-4. It is the first of 4 gospels and the first book in the New Testament. The gospels are the only books in the bible that quote Jesus and describe His ministry on earth. Keep in mind the culture in the middle east at the time. The best teachers of scripture will help their congregation understand the context within the story. For example, most women in these cultures at the time were not allowed to be educated and in many cases were not allowed to be in the places they were found in these stories. Also, many Jewish customs are referred to in the gospels. So, when verses don't make sense, it is helpful to research the verse or chapter further.

  3. For those in deep pain, the Psalms is a great addition. It is also a great book for joy. The Psalms is a song book, so consider singing the lyrics.

  4. Pray. This can be done outloud or silently. You can close your eyes, or keep them open. You can kneel or stand up. The bible does not indicate a specific posture needed for prayer. Pray for 2 minutes or 2 hours. Tell God what you need and what you feel. The bible tells us we can give God our burdens. It tells us He is eager to forgive us so we may have peace. Tell Him what is bothering you and ask for help.

Do this daily or weekly. I read scripture and pray in the mornings. Sometimes the morning is busy and I skip a day. Sometimes it is a quick 5 minute ritual, and some times I sip a little longer and pray a little louder. So, don't assume it needs to be a strict regime unless that is how you prefer to approach it.

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