Sometimes we hear a phrase so often that it becomes trite and meaningless. “Love changes things” is one of those phrases. We hear it and we may nod, because we believe it, but it doesn’t penetrate any further. Sometimes it takes a human story to bring it all home.
Well, here is one of those human stories, coming at us from the splendid Facebook page of Humans of New York. It’s the story of how one man — a “loser” by the world’s standards, and by his own, was opened up by the power of the love he allowed into his own heart. It’s the story of a father, who never thought he would be a father, and the daughter for whom he could not help but change, out of love. HONY caught up with them in a mall as they shopped for Christmas, and here is his story:
“My first thought was ‘Oh no.’ I wasn’t ready for a kid. I was a f**k-up and an addict. I’d just finished seven years in jail for robbery.”
Everything changed for him on Valentine’s day in 1992, when he discovered that he was going to be the father of a baby girl. His behavior changed, and it became a testimony to the idea of self-actualization: that if you act like the person you want to be, you become that person.
“Right away I started buying all this girly stuff. I was excited. I became more civil. I was going to raise my daughter to be kind and respectful to everyone. So I became that person. And she became that person too.”
From an addict to a doting dad, see the difference one life, and one decision to love unconditionally can make:
“Every day I picked her up from school after work. We went to theaters, and museums, and Disney World three different times. Every year on my birthday we dressed up and got tea at the Four Seasons. She ended up being the valedictorian of her class. She went to Duke on a full scholarship. Now she’s in law school at NYU.”
Love changes things. It’s the truth, and it is a truth that can resonate with us in this Advent season and into Christmas, when we consider the Incarnate child, the Coming of Unconditional Love breaking into our world, and changing everything.
Love does something else, too. It keeps us awestruck, and that makes us humble:
I look at her and I think that she must have done all this by herself. Because I’m kinda ‘street.’ I grew up in the projects. And she’s gone so much farther than I ever could. So I always thought I had nothing to do with it. But I have friends who tell me that I made a big difference. And I did always teach her to work hard and do her best. And she told me recently, that when she had to write an essay for her SAT, she called it: ‘My Father, My Hero.’”
The only reward this dad could ever hope for is his daughter’s expression of her own unconditional love. Clearly, it is worth more than the price of rubies to him. What love can do!
What a great story; what an inspiring message for us, after all: Love Changes Things. And hearts. And trajectories. And people. Amen?