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Monday, June 8, 2015

Transformational change doesn't happen until you change the way you think.

We are focusing on hope in marriage as part of my "Faith, Hope and Love" series.  In my last post we looked at how hope is more than mere wishful thinking.
True hope is the confident expectation that God will move on your behalf in order to satisfy your heart's desires, rescue you from difficulty or guide you to fulfill your destiny.
But how do we get from the wishful thinking kind of hope to the confident expectation kind of hope?

Getting a hold of true hope starts with changing how you think.

What You Think Matters

Here is an important fact about why what you think makes a big difference. Your brain tends to automatically filter and discount anything that doesn't line up with what you believe.
  • When you believe that your marriage is hopeless, it won't matter what your spouse does, you are going to see everything through the filter of hopelessness.
  • If you believe your spouse will never change, you will automatically discount any effort they make toward positive change.
  • If you believe your spouse is completely selfish, any selfless act will be met with skepticism and accusation about their motivation
  • If you believe God doesn't care about your marriage, you will miss seeing the hand of God move on behalf of your marriage.
  • If you believe you will never have the kind of intimacy you desire, you will miss every opportunity for you and your spouse to move closer to each other.
It is also true that when you chose to believe good things about your spouse and your marriage, you are much more likely to see them when they happen. You see, our brains also have a tendency to identify things that do line up with our belief system.

Start Simply

My daughter was recently going through a hard time, battling pain and hopelessness over a difficult circumstance. In processing things in prayer, the Lord revealed to her the only two questions she was to focus on in this troubled season.
  1. Do you believe I am good?
  2. Do you believe I am for you?
We (okay I) can have tendency to complicate things. Truthfully, it is much better for us to grab tightly to a few essential truths rather than to grapple loosely with dozens of truths.

So when you are trying to change the way you think, pick one or two areas where you sense that your thinking isn't in line with the truth. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to shine a light of truth into your heart. He will. God is a good Father. He longs to impart hopeful truth to your heart.

If you aren't comfortable listening to the Holy Spirit, or don't believe you can hear from God, start with the two truths my daughter was challenged to focus on:
  1. God is good and only has good intentions toward you
  2. God is for you and for your marriage
Don't Settle For Less Than Fullness

Maybe you don't have a general sense of hopeless about your marriage, but there may be specific areas of your relationship where you have set aside hope, where you have settled for less than fullness in your marriage.  A lackluster or non-existent sex life, financial struggles, in-law troubles, health issues, or lack of emotional intimacy.

Wherever there is hopelessness in your life and marriage, God wants to restore hope. I strongly encourage you to find a few simple truths that you can press fully into in a way that you start to change the way you think.

I recently came across a short video that beautifully expresses what it means to hope in God.  Here are a few quotes:
  • There are no hopeless circumstances only hopeless people. 
  • God always partners with someone who has hope.
  • The people who made a difference in the Bible were unreasonably optimistic.
You'll find the video of this very encouraging little three minute message on my Facebook page. Be sure to like my page while you are there!


Andrew said...

The FB page link doesn't seem to be working.

You're absolutely right that the way we think governs how we act...but I would not necessarily base thinking on hope, because that ties our behaviour, and thus, in the long run our character, to a perceived outcome.

Indeed, hopelessness may well be character's crucible.

And some situations truly are hopeless...consider the fact that casualties among pilots were higher than those of aircrew in the Royal Air Force's Bomber Command. Why? The pilot frequently had to hold a crippled, disintegrating Lancaster or Halifax steady so that his crew could jump, knowing that there was no way he could reach the hatch, once he let go the controls.

A lot of young men saw the fullness of old age, because one man stared down hopelessness, and did his best, nonetheless.

And yes, some relationships are functionally hopeless...but that is never, ever a license to abandon the higher path. An unfaithful spouse does not justify a revenge affair, or even a journey into pornography.

The Romans had it right...una salus victus nullam sperare.

That one hope was not that somehow things would work's that in some way, character might make a difference, even if only in the moment of death.

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