As one of our longest-serving staff members, Linda Clark knows Oakdale and is great with our students! A graduate of Berea College, Linda has has served in many roles at Oakdale – teacher, dorm parent, and now as activities director and assistant to the dean of students. Click on the image below to view Linda’s video greeting, and read as she shares about “the Jesus kind of love.”

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The Jesus Kind of Love

It was tough to see.

His back arched tightly, responding to the loving hand of a grandmother not of his choosing, guarding against a love he does not know how to receive.

I wondered what must go through her mind as she dares to love the one who won’t be loved.  To touch the one who recoils.  Instinct would tell her to withdraw.  Love seems to drive her to persevere.

This is a picture we often see with our students who have been adopted and then had a difficult time immersing in their new family.  The love is there for the taking, but they don’t even know how to reach out their hand.  They have no category for it.  And sometimes stepping back a bit, coming to Oakdale, and not being so up-close, gives them a chance to learn to love in bits and bits, instead of all at once.

Quite often these are our greatest success stories.  For some reason, perhaps, it releases some of the pressure.  Still, as a mom of four, it is difficult to see the sacrifices of so many families who have “made room for one more” only to have their efforts rebuffed.  Smiles unreturned.  Hugs on hold.

I often wonder.  “What kind of love is this?”

Well, I’ll tell you what kind of love.

It’s the Jesus kind of love.  The kind that gives with no thought of gaining.  The kind that bows to only be struck.  The kind that makes people’s heads go shaking.   That’s the love that can cause earthquakes in hearts thought unbreakable.  Sacrifice love.  God love.

That type of love is honestly what makes life at Oakdale even possible.  From donors who have given faithfully for 20 years despite never having set foot on Oakdale ground,  to staff who give up “normal” lives to share theirs with a bunch of teenagers- 24/7.

And it’s this love, evidenced in his grandmother’s gentle hand on his back, that will carry this little boy through the tough teen years and give him hope of a life that he doesn’t even know how to dream of yet.

Thank you, God, for that kind of love.