Without some inner decluttering and cleaning up of what’s going on in our heads, we will find it hard to grow the light of hope. Hope will get lost in the clutter. To develop new ways of thinking and responding requires a lifetime worth of work, and honestly, life doesn’t always seem to be on our side in this endeavor. Our comfort (and our hope) is to realize that even though there’s a lot out there that we can’t control, we are doing the best we can even if we wish we and our lives were different.

It’s a rule of life that letting go of what no longer serves us is how we open up space for what will be helpful now. It’s necessary to clear out worn out thoughts and ideas to make room for hopeful thoughts and ideas. Keep in mind that we aren’t looking to replace the old thoughts with unicorns and rainbows but rather with the hope of possibilities and openness to God’s surprises.


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 

Philippians 4:4-8


  • Having a daily prayer or meditation practice is helpful in cleaning up our mental clutter. Even 5 minutes a day is beneficial. Be creative to find what works best for you. Reading a scripture verse or a devotional book with daily reflections, along with a check-in with God in prayer, helps ground us in body, mind, and spirit. A morning walk, yoga, savoring that first cup of coffee, or watching the sunrise are also possibilities. 
  • Take periodic Thought Breaks during the day to check in on your thinking. Are your thoughts hope growing or hope depleting? This week’s scripture gives us some helpful “whatevers” to evaluate our thinking. Checking in with how your body is feeling—tense, at ease, etc.—can help you recognize what’s going on in your mind.

  • Let yourself be sad and grieve when you need to. Denying our pain actually keeps us from healing, and thus finding hope.
  • Humor grows hope. Find a kid and ask them for a joke. Watch a funny movie. In an upsetting situation, is there any humor to be found? Not at the expense of anyone or anything, but the looking at the bright side kind of humor?
  • Talking to a good friend, a therapist, or a spiritual director about the messy stuff in our minds is a helpful way to work on cleaning it up.


Sometimes our thoughts start to run away with us, or we get caught in a downward spiral of unhealthy ruminating. Repeating a simple, one line prayer can help us get our thoughts under control. Try out different possibilities. Suggestions include:

  • Be still and know that I am God from Psalm 46.
  • The Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. (This is a traditional practice of the Orthodox Church.)
  • Words from this week’s scripture.
  • A favorite Scripture, book quote, or line from a song/hymn.
  • Create your own.