The cacophony was deafening as books crashed to the floor, a pencil holder hitting the wall sent pens and pencils flying everywhere. The most grating sound, however, was the harsh inhale and exhale of ragged breath as Angela stood like a raging bull glaring at Nancy. “I hate you!” she spit out.
Nancy, director of the girls’ home, silently surveyed the damage. Gazing tenderly at the girl, she saw her potential beauty. “Why won’t you let us love you, Angela? Is that so hard?”
Her inquiry was met with hostility and defiance. Weariness seeping into every pore of her body, Nancy wondered what to do with this troubled teen. Angela had given them more trouble in one week than most girls do during their entire six month stay.
“First, clean up this mess, then write a 300 word report on your life and why you are here, what you hope to learn.” Exiting the room, Nancy remarked “We love you!”
The sound of the closing door echoed in the empty hallway. Nancy walked towards the chapel as music softly floating on the warm breeze caressed her perplexed spirit. Slipping into the back, she sank into a chair. She closed her eyes, allowing the voices of thirty women and girls singing worship songs to wash over her.
She prayed for wisdom and guidance. Tomorrow morning they would have their evaluation meeting and Angela was the first topic for discussion.
Fifteen years ago she too had come to this program; troubled, involved in drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity. She had been raised in a loving Christian home. What seemed like harmless fun soon became a sinister, consuming addiction draining the life from her. In desperation, her parents finally sent her here.
Now she was director of the very home that had helped her, married to a wonderful man with two terrific kids. She had been grateful to the staff and counselors for all their love, encouragement and help; unlike Angela who hated everyone.
Before she left for home that afternoon, she grabbed Angela’s file, inserting the assignment she had asked her to write. Later that evening she read the reports from staff – nothing favorable there. She read again the police report which shed little light on Angela personally.
Before reading Angela’s assignment, she prayed and read 1 Corinthians 13, the chapter on love. She let it sink in, asking God for discernment. Next she read Angela’s paper. Drained emotionally, she knew she had her answer.
The atmosphere was somber when she entered staff meeting the next morning. She opened in prayer and read 1 Corinthians 13. Discussions began, but the main focus concerned what should be done about Angela. Grace and mercy had been repeatedly given for her violent, destructive behavior.
Addressing her staff, Nancy began. “We’ve all tried to reach Angela with love, but love isn’t touching her. We may as well be speaking a foreign language. She doesn’t know or understand love in any form.”
Nancy began to read from Angela's paper: I never knew my father. Mom was a drug addict and prostitute. We lived in cheap motels. When men came, I was locked in the closet and told to keep quiet, staying there for hours; scared, hungry, roaches and mice crawling on me. Eventually my mom used me to entice men. I was 10 the first time it happened. Mom gave me drugs so I’d cooperate. I’ve never had a friend; kids at school made fun of me because I was dirty. People would turn my mom into the police, but we’d just move to another motel. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been beaten. I had my first abortion when I was 14. You asked me why I’m here. The police brought me here when my mom died from a beating. You tell me you love me, that God loves me. You expect me to believe that? I’m 17 and no one, not one single person, and certainly not this God you all talk so much about, has ever loved me. Love? What is that? I don’t know love!
The only sound in the room was soft weeping. Nancy cleared her throat, “God loves her, we love her, and if that’s a foreign language to Angela, then she is going to learn it here.”
Six months later Angela was a different girl. Although she had far to go, love became a language she understood. Embracing each staff, she whispered “Thanks for loving me. I love you!”
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