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Holding Hurt and Hope

Often when we encounter difficulties, hurt, or suffering, we are encouraged to move from hurt to hope. But there is power in the space where hurt and hope intersect–where we are able to both acknowledge pain or injustice and also notice and embrace the love, care, and strength that is also present.

Kleaver Cruz, the founder of the Black Joy Project, puts it like this:

“Amplifying black joy is not about dismissing or creating an ‘alternative’ black narrative that ignores the realities of our collective pain; rather, it is about holding the pain and injustices we experience as black folks around the world in tension with the joy we experience in pain’s midst. It’s about using that joy as an entry into understanding the oppressive forces we navigate through as a means to imagine and create a world free of them.”  Kleaver Cruz, Black Joy Project

A generative leader will pay attention to both hurt and hope together, recognizing that they can be integrated into meaningful action that is capable of creating transformational change.

Here’s a diagram that helps us visualize this dynamic relationship of hurt and hope in any actions we take.

We live within the flow of movement—two loops that continually move back and forth between two centers. One center is hurt which, when suppressed, produces despair, but when noticed and voiced, is subversive and able to help us see where change is needed, whether in our organizations or communities or even our families. The other center is hope, which, treated as mere optimism, is naïve, but when rooted in reality, evokes change in what needs to change or resistance to what prevents it.

We flow in and out of these realities, gathering energy and motion as we grasp and pay attention
to the space between the overlapping realities of hurt and hope (the center of the diagram). It’s the space at the center where our deepest power lies. It’s here–when we touch hurt and touch hope at the same time that people experience their Spirit Power, express and receive love, allow their imaginations run free and find sparks (even bonfires!) of hope, connection and joy.

Watch this video to find out more.



What do you think?

Have you ever experienced times of hurt, struggle, or suffering when you also felt hope or love or care at the same time? Reflecting on that experience, what did you learn from that experience?

What stories can you think of from the Bible where someone holds pain and hope at the same time? Where do you see gifts for Spirit Power, Love, and Hopeful Imagination emerging in those stories?

What difference does it make to our image of God to think about God hearing our voices and responding with care and justice?

How might our ministries and actions be different if we start with the assumption that hurt and hope are interconnected

Your Turn!

If you’d like to add to the conversation, be sure to visit our “It’s Your Turn” page to share your wisdom, insights and questions.


A joint project of Advocate Health Care & the OCEAN-HP at the University of Illinois at Chicago.