Monday, August 2, 2010
Wild Hope: Finding Courage and Strength in Times of Transition by Jackie M. Johnson, Author of When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton is Empty
Today's guest blogger is Jackie Johnson, author of When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty: What You Need to Know about Your New Beginning.
While most books for singles tell readers how to get the next guy, When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton is Empty encourages a healthy healing process. Practical and biblically based, each chapter guides the reader through a metaphorical day of restoration. Twilight recognizes and deals with endings, night validates and grieves the loss, dawn awakens hope, and day is the new beginning based on the solid assurance of Christ.
Chapters conclude with discussions questions for individual or group study, helpful Bible verses, and a prayer.
Wild Hope: Finding Courage and Strength in Times of Transition
by Jackie M. Johnson
Life is constantly changing. In fact, much of living is about beginnings and endings. You graduate from high school or college, and start a new job. You leave your current job and look for another one—or start a business, or go on unemployment. Maybe military service or marriage takes you from one part of the world to another, and you have to start all over again. Some changes we choose—others choose us.
So if change is a given, how do we adjust? For some, making life transitions is smooth, and for others it’s rocky and staggered. Hard things happen. Sometimes we lose people or things we treasure. But how we handle change—or don’t—will make a huge difference in the next stage of our lives.
I’ve heard that Chuck Swindoll says, “It’s not always what happens to you, it’s how you respond to it that makes a difference.”
For example, when you end a significant relationship, you may feel a hundred different emotions. Your reaction could vary, from a snarly, “What a jerk!” to a disillusioned, “I really thought this would go somewhere.” to a despondent, “How am I going to get over him?” You’re sad, angry, hurt, and confused. Some days you just want to sob with your two new best friends, Ben and Jerry, and their ridiculously good frozen treats.
So then what? You can choose to ignore your pain, and hope it will just go away. You can numb out with a temporary fix like excessive eating, drinking, shopping or partying, and when that’s done you still feel awful. Or, in the midst of your pain and darkness, you can look to the light of God’s truth for hope, healing and wholeness. Either way, it’s your choice.
I’ve discovered that a lasting solution to getting through transitions or hard times is to look to the words and ways of Jesus Christ. His solutions are soul-nurturing, and He has the power to make real changes in your circumstances and your emotions. I think it’s worth examining.
First, invite Him into your process and ask God to help you through. Just talk to Him like you would talk with a friend, and pour out your heart. Ask Him for the power to get through the changes--and to know Him better through it all. Here are a few things that Christ gives us when we need hope.
Comfort. When temporary solutions to soothe your pain have left you stranded, you can always count on “the God of all comfort.” He is near. And He has a huge, compassionate heart. In fact, He “comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4)
Wisdom. In times of transition, you usually have a lot of decisions to make and myriad emotions floating in your head. What should you do? What is right or wrong? That’s where wisdom and discernment come in. Proverbs 2:6 reads, “For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Ask, and He will give you wisdom and guidance.
Power to forgive. Maybe someone has hurt you and you’re angry. What is binding you—bitterness, resentment, or offense? When you release your vice grip hold and choose to forgive, you will find freedom and peace.
Because He has first forgiven us, Christ commands us to forgive others. Jesus himself said, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt. 6:14, 15)
Forgiveness is not forgetting about what happened. It doesn’t mean you condone what happened, agree with it or like it. You are not letting the offender off the hook; you’re putting them on God’s hook, and trusting God to deal with it fairly because He said He would. He ensures justice is served. “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19) Also, forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to hang out with someone who’s hurt you. Use discernment to guard your heart and stay away from a person who’s harmed you.
Courage to hope. Hope presses on and looks ahead. It’s confident trust in the reliability of God’s promises. If God said it, then He will come through—in His ways and in His timing. He keeps His promises, all of them, all the time. That, my friend, is Wild Hope. We read in Psalm 25:4, 5, “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Christ can help you dealing with your endings, to let go of the pain and hold on to hope. So when the winds of change blow, you won’t break. You will stand strong.
Jackie M. Johnson is an accomplished author and freelance writer who has a passion for helping people who’ve experienced brokenness. Her first book, Power Prayers for Women has sold almost 200,000 copies.
A Milwaukee native and graduate of Trinity International University, Jackie lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Her latest release is When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton is Empty.
You can visit Jackie online at http://whenloveends.com/ and at her blog http://anewdaycafe.blogspot.com/.