What Makes You Cry? (Turning Hurt Into Hope)

Through a mouth full of braces and a wall of frizzy hair I asked a leader at our youth retreat some advice on my future. He flipped the question on me in a way I’ll never forget. “Well, what makes you cry?”  I thought for a while and listed off somethings. And he said “Those things… THAT is how you’ll change the world.”

I’ve kept that thought in my pocket for the rest of my life. Even using it as an question for people I have interviewed in the past.  Because if you want to know what someone is truly passionate about, find the place that they’ve been wounded.   That is where their hope is born.  Their desire for someone else to overcome the issue.  That someone can be saved from feeling that anguish all together.  Their belief that love can heal.  It all comes from their point of pain and inspires almost all of their interactions.

However, we live in a culture that tells us a lot about hype but doesn’t say we can turn our pain into passion.  As a result, we find ourselves investing in things that we don’t care about and missing out on the opportunity to turn our bad into good.  We hide our hurt believing healing isn’t worth it.

To start investing in the things that set us and others free, we have to know how to distinguish the difference between what we’re told to like and what we’re truly inspired by. Here are the two best ways contrast hope and hype.

1. Hype is the headline.  Hope is a footnote.  Pick up any paper and you’ll see these big bold letters across the top of the page.  They’re mostly some big scary title inciting you to read more.  These are the things in life that say “Work Harder and Your Wife Will Love You More,” “The World Is Changing and Falling Apart,”  “Money Is Everything and Other Ways To Climb The Ladder.”   However, there’s always a little piece of information at the bottom stating the sources that back up the factuality of the writing. That is hope.  That is what can change the way you look at the titles culture has laid out for you all together. “Work Harder” is thrown away for “My Family Needs Me.”  “The World Is Changing” becomes “My God Is The Same Forever.”   Hype is how you’re told to see things.  Hope is the important evidence of your experience playing out in your view of life.

2. Hype is sunshine.  Hope is partly cloudy. Have you ever been in a drought? The ground cracks.  Grass turns brown. Flowers die.  It’s not a pretty thing. Hype is like the sun that never stops shining and it’s drought causing dangerous.  It’s that person who is happy all the time and really broken on the inside. It treats pain too lightly and never heals as a result. So it dries up lives and leaves people burnt out.  On the contrary, hope is a blending of the good and the bad. It admits the hurt but believes that God is up to something and is going to shed some light on the situation.  It is a sun tan and shade all at the same time, offering needed exposure and healing.

There’s an old adage that says “One man's trash is another man's treasure.”  It’s true. Your hurt doesn’t make you a throw away, it makes you pure gold to someone experiencing the same pain.  You are the label remover for the lying titles that have been slapped across peoples lives.  You are the partly cloudy that relieves a sunburnt soul.  When you turn your hurt into hope and not hype, you are the greatest and purest form of help.

So, take some time to really think about this question and run out to change the world with your answer.

What makes you cry?

kaley thompson