Interview: Pastor Pete Wilson on 4 Choices Leading to Hope, Change

Pastor Pete Wilson of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tenn. walks readers through four choices on how to achieve freedom from their suffering in his new book, Let Hope In: 4 Choices That Will Change Your Life, while illustrating Biblical accounts of men who endured hopeless moments as examples that demonstrate how God's healing power can lead to hope.

Wilson focuses on four main choices throughout the book that can begin the process of allowing hope to fill in the dark places of the past once they are embraced. Those choices include discovering how to transform pain instead of transferring it, choosing to "be okay with not being okay," trusting rather than pleasing, and choosing to be a free person in order to free others.

The youthful pastor gained national attention in 2010 for his best-selling book, Plan B, a title that has been printed in five languages and launched Putting Plan B into Action, a 6-week DVD curriculum that serves as a study companion to the book. Empty Promises, Wilson's second book, released in spring 2012.

An edited transcript of Pete Wilson's interview with The Christian Post is below:

CP: In the book, you discuss four choices that people must make in order to experience freedom from pain, why did you decide to focus on just these four?

Wilson: I don't know that that's a comprehensive list; there are other choices that we can make to find hope. What I do know is that if a person commits to these four choices, it's going to lead to hope. Each of them are not easy choices because we have set patterns. We live in a culture that's trying its best to make us [into] somebody who we actually are not and we should get to a point where we can say, 'I'm okay with not being okay, I'm hurt, at times I'm lonely and afraid.'  Each of these choices carries with it the unbelievable opportunity to experience hope.

CP: You say there are two types of hope, hope in something and someone. At what point does a person exhaust all their resources and decide to turn to God instead?

Wilson: I believe that eventually everyone gets to that place where they realize that all the things they put their hope in goes away and dissipates. Everything in this world is temporary and we chase after different things trying to place our hope in it. There is that moment that everybody has where they realize that the hope they really desire within their heart comes from not putting their hope in something but someone. Everything in the Bible points you to place your hope in Jesus, not because He gives you everything that you hope for, but because he really is worthy of our hope.

CP: How can someone learn to transform their pain from the past so it won't transfer into their future?

Wilson: No one goes through life without emotional bruising, everybody needs healing, I don't care how well put together somebody looks. Part of that is realizing that if we don't find a way to transform that pain, we're just going to transfer it from job to job, relationship to relationship, and from decade to decade. Can people get to that place where they're willing to surrender their past pain and hurt? They have to allow it to be transformed and that's a choice.

CP: In the section of the book titled 'The Healer,' you mention that there is power in a simple hug when we give and receive it. How does this physical embrace compare to God's healing power in our lives?

Wilson: During that section of the book, I broke down the story of how Jesus healed the leper. Jesus went out of His way to touch the leper, which at the time was not acceptable but Jesus touched him before He healed him as if that was His attempt to make that individual socially acceptable. We have a responsibility as Christians, the same way that Jesus reintroduced people to community, to try to do the same thing. This story is a wonderful reminder that none of us are too far gone from God that He still can't heal or love us.

CP: You make a revelation in the book where you say that sometimes you wonder if our hurt, damages and weak areas, caused by our past, every really become "whole" of if it's God's grace that makes up the difference in our lives. What did you mean by that?

Wilson: Some people have been hurt and damaged so deeply in their life that I wonder if they ever get complete healing from those things. One of the stories that I shared in the book was about my neighbor who was sexually abused several times as a child. As a Christian, he has found a tremendous amount of purpose in his pain but that pain is still there. The things that happened to him still haunt him from time to time. Although the relationship he has with God has not changed his past, or taken it away because he still has a history, he is able to look at that history differently and he can actually find purpose in that pain. He's now taken that pain and helps other victims who have been abused by helping them find healing and hope. Again, it doesn't erase what happened in his past, it gives him new meaning

In the book, the goal is not to make you be a person without a past because that's impossible. The goal is to give you a new way of looking at your past and I believe that's what Jesus does for us.

CP: How does gratitude help bring healing power to our past and hope into our future?

Wilson: As long as you think you're owed something, it's going to be hard to live as a grateful person, you just can't do it. Gratitude is a choice and that choice doesn't come without effort or repetition. Gratitude is one of the most important and underrated aspects in our walk with God. There's a lot of us who walk around and we just feel so entitled to so many different thing – our jobs, money and cars – as long as we're entitled, we're never going to be grateful for those things. Gratitude is an important part of finding hope, the two are inseparable.

CP: Oftentimes fear is the main reason why we don't allow hope in, specifically the fear of the unknown. You advise readers to not "always trust the red flags that our brain is signaling," but what can a person do to embrace this considering that thoughts have so much power over us?

Wilson: Fear is not true to the way you have been wired, faith is. There's a part of the brain that records what we should be fearful of and I think you have to be careful of always trusting your fearful instincts because the mind does throw off flags from time to time that's why we're so afraid of the unknown.

If you read through the Bible, God was constantly interrupting people's plans. It's almost like when people thought their future was known, He would swoop in. Noah didn't plan on building an ark, Mary didn't plan on becoming pregnant, Paul didn't plan on getting shipwrecked, but what happens in these moments where all of a sudden something is unknown, there is a wave of fear that comes through.

For me, when I feel that initial wave of fear, it's a prompt for me to lean into God and it's a reminder that nothing is in control. Most of us don't have a fear problem, we have a faith problem and that is why I encourage people and tell them that they don't want to have a fear-free life, just focus on trusting God more.