At Promise Academy, a school for at-risk students in the Harlem Children’s Zone, teacher Sophie Richard tutored a child to prepare him for a crucial test. One afternoon, when the young boy was tired and frustrated, she tried to offer him words of encouragement, but he
suddenly interrupted her. “Why should I care about this test?” he demanded. “No one cares how I do on this test. I don’t care either.” “But I care about how you do,” Richard replied. And with those words, tears sprang to the boy’s eyes and started running down his face. “Why do you care?” he asked. “Because this is your future, and I care deeply about you.”
We’re hungrier than we know for someone to care about how we do and, even more, to care deeply for us—to love us in a way that energizes us for a better and gladder life. Journalist Paul Tough described the love which this teacher had for her student as “the X factor, the magic ingredient . . . If the kids didn’t get that, all the tutoring in the world might not help them” (Whatever It Takes, 186).
Without love, creative methodologies, ingenious technologies, expert knowledge, and abundant resources will not solve any of our most pressing problems. Without love, no matter how committed you are, how hard you work, and how smart you are, nothing saving, transforming, and gladdening will happen. Only love can connect us to the life we long to enjoy.
We’re trapped in all too familiar vicious cycle: hurt people hurt people. Indifference leads to more indifference. Fear generates more fear. Because of what I have seen, heard, and felt about God through the story of Jesus, I believe that God’s love has the power to break this painful and desperate cycle, to overwhelm hurt with healing, and to transform indifference into compassion.
Divine love makes it possible for us to open our hearts, to take down our defenses, to come out of hiding, and, at last, to live--to live, not merely to exist. God will make of our hearts a haven of hope, a shelter of peace, and a home of joy. And, living from an open heart, we embrace the world with welcoming grace and tender mercy.