Without Love (fourth sermon in series, “Fresh Air for Fall”)

Psychologist Dr. Deborah Anapol, in this month’s issue of PSYCHOLOGY TODAY (online), writes about love.

Love is larger than you are. You can invite love, but you cannot dictate how, when, and where love expresses itself. You can choose to surrender to love, or not, but in the end love strikes like lightening, unpredictable and irrefutable. You can even find yourself loving people you don’t like at all. Love does not come with conditions, stipulations, addenda, or codes. Like the sun, love radiates independently of our fears and desires.

Love is inherently free. It cannot be bought, sold, or traded. You cannot make someone love you, nor can you prevent it….Love cannot be imprisoned nor can it be legislated. Love is not a substance, not a commodity, nor even a marketable power source. Love has no territory, no borders, no quantifiable mass or energy output.
One can buy loyalty, companionship, attention, perhaps even compassion, but love itself cannot be bought….It comes, or not, by grace, of its own will and in its own timing, subject to no human’s planning.

Love cannot be turned on as a reward. It cannot be turned off as a punishment. Only something else pretending to be love can be used as a lure, as a hook, for bait and switch, imitated, insinuated, but the real deal can never be delivered unless it springs freely from the heart.

This doesn’t mean that love allows destructive and abusive behaviors to go unchecked. Love speaks out for justice and protests when harm is being done. Love points out the consequences of hurting oneself or others. Love allows room for anger, grief, or pain to be expressed and released. But love does not threaten to withhold itself if it fails to get what it wants. Love does not say, directly or indirectly, “If you are a bad boy, Mommy won’t love you any more.” Love does not say, “Daddy’s little girl doesn’t do that.”

Love cares what becomes of you because love knows that we are all interconnected. Love is inherently compassionate and empathic. Love knows that the “other” is also oneself. This is the true nature of love and love itself cannot be manipulated or restrained. Love honors the sovereignty of each soul. Love is its own law.

On Tuesday evening, when many of you were settling in front of your television sets to watch the election returns, five of us were here in this sanctuary, in this room with limited lighting since the crowd was small, where I finished performing the marriage of Lydia Anderson and Jorge Pina. The BIG marriage event where vows were taken in front of friends and family members happened several weeks ago, but we couldn’t finish with the paperwork until some delayed legal documents for Jorge arrived.
As I stood there on your side of the communion table with Lydia and Jorge immediately in front of me, I asked them to confirm the vows that they had spoken to each other so movingly at the public ceremony.  My focus was on the delighted and delightful young couple, but I also had an opportunity to observe two other very important types of love beyond new spousal love.  Standing just beyond Lydia and Jorge were Jeff and Charlene, the parents of the bride for those of you who don’t yet know them, and so I was also able to observe experienced couple love in a strong marriage confronting the empty nest; in addition I saw one dimension of the complexity of parental love–standing alongside a child with unlimited support and good will at a powerful rite of passage. It was all very moving for me knowing how much Charlene and Jeff love their children and how encouraging they have been and are. They were with Lydia and her beloved celebrating this exciting new chapter in their lives.  Love filled the room, I tell you, and I thought to myself, with thanks to Louie Armstrong for the words:  “What a wonderful world.”
Love is all around, and there are all kinds of expressions of love. Probably there isn’t as much love alive and at work in the world as the world needs. If there were, there would be much less discord at every level. Still, I insist that there’s a lot of love affecting positive change in the world. Otherwise, I think we would not have lasted as long as we have.
People may give and receive love that all ages and stages of life. I just told you about a beautiful young couple choosing each other in marriage and formalizing their love relationship with each other for what they intend to be a lifetime.
I can also tell you stories about love between couples who’ve been together for a lifetime. One of those stories would certainly be the one about Bea and Oliver Brecht, members of my congregation in Baltimore. I think by the time I met them they had already been married 50 years or little more. Oliver was a stroke patient, and he lived in a care facility because his needs were beyond what Bea could provide. But every single day unless she happened to be on one of her infrequent trips to visit family in Texas she was at Oliver’s bedside every morning and sometimes twice a day.  He could not speak coherently to my ear so I often did not understand what he was trying to tell me, but Bea understood everything he was trying to convey whether any actual words were spoken or not.  Talk about two peas in a pod.  She usually referred to him as her sweetheart.  When Oliver died, I officiated at his funeral service, and it was evident that if love extends beyond this world theirs did or does. The warmth and tenderness between them was a sight to behold.  Thoreau said, “There is no remedy for love but to love more.”

“What the world needs now is love sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” Dion Warwick used to sing that song, and I believed her so I say again if there were more love in the world, the world would be a better place. If there were more love in the world there would be less war  and maybe eventually no war.  If there were more love in the world the recent presidential election would’ve remained focused on issues and not personalities or manufactured personalities. If there were more love in the world fewer people would be hungry, fewer people would be homeless, fewer people would wander through a day and toss at night feeling present in the world but entirely unloved by everyone in it.
Speaking of the recent presidential election and many other elections at the same time, I began to play around in my head with the possible interrelationship of today’s topic with American politics. My initial thinking was that there is practically no evidence of love of any sort in the election process. Opponents speak as if they hate, detest one another. They speak as if they are representing different constituencies when the winner of the presidency or the winner of the state Senate seat must represent the whole of her or his constituency.  There is no way a percentage of people can be characterized as unnecessary in the district or the nation as unworthy of the political winner’s attention or efforts.
In short, I could think of nothing but hatred in the political process itself.  I don’t think that Christian values or monotheistic values or any religious values should be superimposed upon the political process anymore than the merging of church and state should be put into place as opposed to the separation of church and state.  Love is a reality that transcends all religions. Love is not the possession of people of faith, any kind of faith anymore than reason is.
I found an article by a psychiatrist whose views are in line with my initial thoughts on this topic.  Dr. Judith Orloff says that hatred and vindictiveness among politicians is tearing our country apart–not that that’s something new.  But how long can it continue?  Her words:

Hatred begets hatred. There is no compassion here. There is no respect for the honor of the political process or the human beings engaged in it. Why would we ever want someone to be our leader who is hateful, vindictive, and lusts only for the aphrodisiac of power?

Last Saturday, Dr. Orloff published online a list she called “7 Compassionate Vows for Politicians.”  I don’t see many politicians taking these, but what if only a few did to start?

1. I vow to value compassion in everything I do.
2. I vow to treat my fellow candidates with respect.
3. I vow to honor our country and our people by being a positive role model who embodies the good.
4. I vow not to be a fear monger in my speeches or in the media to garner votes.
5. I vow to put the welfare of this country and the earth above greed.
6. I vow to fight for the well-being of the earth and all its resources.
7. I vow to advocate national and global wellness to spread happiness on earth.

I was quite surprised to stumble upon a political scientist who says that love and politics go together like a horse and carriage and even more surprised to find her conclusions being drawn from her interaction with the writings of the great philosopher, Hegel.
The political scientist of whom I speak is Professor Alice Ormiston, and her book in which these ideas are developed is titled LOVE AND POLITICS.  Dr. Ormiston believes, quite optimistically it seems to me, that modern politics is rooted not just in the pursuit of power; instead, it is “essentially underpinned by the experience of love.”  Her reading of Hegel led her to believe that he understood love as a principle uniting reason with emotion, also uniting self and other, therefore providing the foundation for a profound sense of connectedness to the world and to the will to perform genuine acts of autonomy.   I’m sure you’re wondering where in the world she scraped up such optimism.   Ormiston believes that those in our population who demonstrate and hold onto an undying commitment to individual rights and freedoms must have experienced and in most cases continue to experience love; love placed selfless values in any conscience where they are found.   One of Ormiston’s reviewers offers the suggestion that the author’s ideals “can serve as a foundation for resistance to problems of our time including atomism and instrumental rationality, the ills of an unfettered capitalism, and the reality of a radical evil.”
Charlie Chaplain’s main character in his controversial and acclaimed film, THE GREAT DICTATOR, has this to say when he discovers that being an emperor isn’t for him:

The way of life can be free and beautiful.
But we have lost the way.
Greed has poisoned men’s souls –
has barricaded the world with hate;
has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in:
machinery that gives abundance has left us in want.
Our knowledge has made us cynical,
our cleverness hard and unkind.
We think too much and feel too little:
More than machinery we need humanity;
More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness.

Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost….You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate–only the unloved hate.

So some of the most eloquent, inspiring words about love in the whole of Judeo-Christian scripture are found in one of the letters that the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. I have mentioned on other occasions that the irony behind this beautiful poetic love language is that it was written to the congregation who among all the congregations Paul served liked him least, and the feeling was quite mutual thank you very much.
We have gotten pretty good, some of us, at singing, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin in me.”  I don’t know how many of us mean that when we sing it. I don’t how many of us believe that anything any one of us or some few of us can do trying to combat one of the most sinister habits known to humanity will ever make a difference. Yet, there is no place where peace prevails except through the diligence of individuals who said, “Peace is a necessity, not a convenience, and all I can do is to make sure I am a peacemaker.”
We need more love in this world, all kinds of love. Love at every level. So let there be love on earth, and let it begin with me. I will not wait for others to take the risk first. I will not wait for others to show me the way. I will step out, skate out on thin ice, in order to put love into practice.
This is a good place to say that love as it is envisioned in Christian scripture has many facets and a handful of words to describe the different facets. Many of you know that the highest form of love is agape love, God’s kind of love. God is love; that love spills over into our lives. And from us it spills over into still other lives. Surprisingly, perhaps, humanity or at least human beings individually are capable of living out this divinely-based love in very tangible ways.
Imagine that the greatest love there is filters through us unless we shut it off, filters through us to such an extent that we may live with God’s kind of love shaping us, nurturing us, encouraging us; and we may let the light of that love shine onto others.
In Paul’s magnificent essay on love, he takes on those people who claim that love is always and only about an outward expression. If I go and feed hungry people, then I am automatically acting in love.  That is not true, and he had powerful evidence in the Pharisees, the political party to which he belonged when he was a pre-Jesus Movement Jew. The Pharisees were precisely those people who believed that if they did the right thing then that proved they were acting out of the right motivation, which for them meant keeping law synonymous for them to obedience to God.

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Motivation.  If I am a golden-tongued preacher off of whose tongue rolls rhetorically elegant words of inspiration and thereby stirs the hearts and souls of the masses (not referring to myself in case you were wondering!) I may be a memorable preacher, but my contribution to others, unless I do what I do motivated by love, is something on par with a gong solo.  Have you ever been to a gong recital?  The auditorium was filled wasn’t it?  Yes, indeed.  People were starving for the chance to hear that single tone for two solid hours.

Motivation.  Let’s say you’re an incredibly on target prophet.  A prophet is not someone who pretends to know when Jesus will reappear on Planet Earth in physical form (which is a part of eschatological mythology anyway and won’t ever be happening historically).  A prophet is someone who has super fine-tuned common sense, especially in being able to tell someone or some group what her or his or their fate will be if they continue on with their present behaviors.  A politician can be a prophet who, in our country if not in a world context, can speak of the tension between the have’s and the have-not’s that cannot go on forever; eventually the downtrodden will band together and take on the have’s.  That’s a very important message, and it may be of value even if the messenger, the prophet, is a self-centered jerk.  That is not likely to be the case, however, since self-centered people generally don’t care about what’s going to happen to others, now or in the long-term. Spoken in love, however, the message carries the compassionate subtext:  “Let’s do everything we can to be sure this never comes to pass by implementing standards of justice wherever we have influence.”

Motivation.  It’s possible to be a martyr, literally, and accomplish nothing practically or spiritually.  This was seen, among other times and places, in the early church where in the time of Paul there were those who believed that martyrs gained God’s greatest favor; therefore, many of them put themselves in places where they’d be martyred as a means of personal gain.  If you are martyred because, in love, you are standing for what is right and just, then you will leave this world a better place than you found it; as a means of trying to earn God’s special favor it really means nothing and is, more or less, an effort at sanctified suicide.

Behind much patience, there is love; there has to be love.  Most acts of true kindness are spurred on by love.  Love helps me balance things out socially and culturally; by that I mean I can love, rather than envy or resent, someone who has more power, prestige, and possessions that I ever will.  If somehow I happen to be one of the have’s, love tempers my spirit and disallows boasting or arrogance.  Forget rudeness and self-centeredness; love washes away the possibilities for those.  Love disdains falsehoods and half-truths.  Love rejoices in “fact checkers.”
I think it’s important to see that thinking of God as an entity who expects obedience from human being is one of those confusing distorted anthropomorphisms–an effort to create God in our own image.  God is neither a parent nor a politician who expects/demands obedience from her or his children or subjects. We do the loving thing always knowing that it is consistent with what Love requires for the whole human family. That has already been made abundantly clear, and we do not need reminders to know it.   We do not need bumper stickers or billboards or daily inspire-you e-mails.  God’s love is a fact of life.  So, Paul in his letter on love will not let any of us off the hook on the basis of our good deeds unless the motivation for doing those good deeds is absolutely sure, and in this context it means done in love.


Daughters and Sons of Consolation (Third in Sermon Series, “Fresh Air for Fall”)



Some say that it is in the most challenging of times that we see humanity and its best. I hope it isn’t true that we sit back and wait for the crisis before we do the best we can for people who are struggling on a day-to-day basis. Yet, if not for the good Samaritans after a crisis of some sort has threatened groups of people we wonder how many would get through after all.

Various news sources including the Huffington Post have been noticing several of these random acts of kindness from people trying to be supportive to those who lost the most in the damaging winds and rains of hurricane Sandy.

One New York physician, Dr. Dave Ores, posted a humble cardboard sign out in front of his office located at 189th Street at East Second; it read something to the effect that he was open that day, Wednesday when the staggering assessments of damage in New York City began to be confronted, and was offering, as his sign said, free medical care to anyone who needed it.  Wow.

Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, had an interesting approach to helping people in his area who were slammed by hurricane Sandy. When people began to get in touch with him saying that they didn’t have power or a place to stay, whatever their problem was, he invited people to come to his house:  “Come and charge your electronic device.  Come and find clean drinking water. Come and rest; we have some space.”  Amazing, Mayor Booker!

If I have a challenge in my life and someone takes the time to check in with me to see how I’m doing, this contact—as simple as a text message or a quick phone call for those who still believe in using their voices–is a great encouragement to me.  It brightens my day to know that there are other people out there who In the midst of all the busy-ness and demands that life throws their way still find time to make contact with me.   My former student from the Louisville seminary, the Rev. Charles Peter Gibson, texted to see if his dear old professor was making it through the storm.  I was so touched when I saw his text.

Don and Cathe Nixon who live in Georgia, called the other evening to say, “We guessed you were OK by staying up with the weather reports, but we wanted to call, hear your voice, and be sure that you actually were.”  Our friendship goes all the way back to our college days, and we are not out of touch though not in touch as frequently as all of us would wish.  These dear friends took the time to call me and ask the simple question, “Are you OK?”  And that lifted my spirits considerably.  As a matter of fact, I was OK.  No real storm damage.  Life generally goes well. Yeah, I was OK, but I was surely “more OK” after the call.

Anderson Cooper and his news staff drove their all equipped van, its own power source that could legally be out on the roads since it is a news vehicle, over into Hoboken, New Jersey, where they parked in a central location and allowed people who needed to recharge their cellular telephones to come to the van and do that. Mr. Cooper and his staff also made the van’s built in computers available to residents without power to get into the sizable vehicle and check and send email messages.  Email was the only means some of the storm victims had to get word to their families that they were safe.

Banfield Pet Hospitals, the largest veterinary practice in the world I learned, has offered free physical examinations to pets in any of the hard hit states to make sure that a pet battered about by the high winds and rains as well as those prevented from taking their medicines, blown or washed away by the storm’s forces, are in good shape.

A Long Island resident who managed to be spared from the worst of the effects of hurricane Sandy immediately when danger had passed brewed up a huge urn of coffee and put it out in front of her home with plenty of sugar and cream and painted on a big piece of plywood, “Have Some Coffee.”  As you well know, for many people there is no finer tonic for dealing with a crisis or just getting through a regular day than good ole coffee.

The morning after Sandy had passed through the New York area there was a kid, maybe 10 years old, and I loved seeing the pictures of him that we’re being passed around on news sources.  He was a budding magician, and he stood on a sidewalk with his magic wand in hand; he had written on a sign propped up on the table beside him, “Come and watch a magic trick. Then leave donations for survivors of Hurricane Sandy.”

Speaking of the world of entertainment, Mary J. Blige, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Jon Bon Jovi, Sting, Steven Tyler, and Christina Aguilera, among other musical performers, offered a televised concert, a benefit, to raise funds to assist victims of Superstorm Sandy with the process of trying to rebuild their lives.  Joining the musicians were newsmen, Matt Laur and Brian Williams, along with typically funny folk with no jokes about the cause for the benefit: Danny DeVito, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jon Stewart.  Ms. Aguilera was the first to speak:

We’ve come together tonight to tell every single person who’s suffering that we are here for you. We will do whatever we can to help. We will not leave anyone behind because every single one of you matters.


Barnabas was one of the earliest participants in the Jesus Movement in the Jerusalem area.  He and the Apostle Paul took missionary journeys together, and except for his connection to Paul we might know nothing about Barnabus.

His birth name was Joseph, but when he sold all his material possessions and gave the money to the apostles in Jerusalem, signaling that he was completely sold out to the Jesus Movement, they told him, which was not unusual, that he needed a new name to reflect his new life.  The leaders of the movement thought about behaviors that most characterized him as the basis for coming up with a suggestion.  Joseph was consistently encouraging those who had given up on themselves so the recommended new name was Barnabas, which meant “son of consolation” or “son of encouragement.”  What a beautiful way to be thought of.

I don’t know of a single era in the history of the Christian church during which there was an abundance of encouragers. There were always plenty of neutral people who neither caused trouble nor eased tensions. And there were certainly those champions of rabble rousing who wished to dominate not only the thought processes of those in the Christian movement of their time, but also the behaviors for which it would be known . But too many encouragers? Never, and yet the person on whose teachings and exemplary actions the Christian church was founded and built was living, breathing encouragement.  Jesus encouraged everyone with whom he came into contact except the self-possessed and the self-impressed.

One of the most stirring stories about Jesus told by those who set out to share his life story from their particular theological bent is the story the woman caught in the act of adultery. Though some scholars question the reliability of the story as an actual part of Jesus’ experience, at the very least it reflects how Jesus acted in comparable kinds of situations.

If you think just a little bit about it, the title that has been attached to the story, “The Woman Caught in the Act of Adultery,” sounds incomplete. It is the rare biblical interpreter who misses out on the fact that the woman was caught in the act of adultery by nosy pharisaical neighbors of hers, but the man who was with her–making adultery happen–isn’t mentioned at all. Now, if the woman were in fact caught in the middle of being adulterous, there had to have been someone else with her. How interesting, though, that since all of her accusers were men, the male adulterer escapes into anonymity with the blessings of his friends and fellow citizens. So, there’s only a woman caught in the act of adultery as her accusers would try to frame the situation for Jesus to respond to, this whole event being nothing more that a setup to trip him up as an interpreter of ancient Hebrew law.  Some of the woman’s accusers must’ve thought that they had found the perfect way to catch Jesus in a situation out of which he could not verbally extract himself.

So they bring the woman, dragging her from her bed, and they throw her down at the feet of Jesus. They tell part of the story, but as we’ve mentioned, they intentionally leave out a significant part of it. Their spokesman said to Jesus, “We caught this woman in the act of adultery; the law of Moses says that we must stone her to death, but your bleeding heart interpretations of the ancient law seem to find ways to get guilty people off the hook. There’s no way to get her off the hook. There were multiple witnesses. She was clearly in the wrong. She was clearly in violation of basic decency along with the law of Moses. Now what do you have to say to keep us from proceeding to fulfill the law of Moses by stoning her right now?”

Jesus responded by saying, “Oh no. Of course not. I would never encourage anybody to ignore or violate the law of Moses. I do have a couple questions before we begin. The first one is, where is her accomplice?  The law says, doesn’t it, that a couple caught in the act of adultery should be stoned to death? A man and woman, at least one of whom is married to another person, are engaged in illicit hard-core sexual activity. So in order to fulfill the law of Moses we need the other part of the equation. One plus  zero does not equal two.”

Then Jesus continued, “I have this other question for you. I just want to know who among you upstanding moral citizens with whom we could not get along has never sinned? I’m sure there’s at least one of you, probably several, but at least one who has never sinned.  I think it’s only fitting that he or they come to the front line and have the joy of casting the first stone or stones.”  Of course no one came forward because everybody knew everybody, the curse of small town living. And no one could make that claim if the woman perchance were a prostitute.  Chances are, some of those in the crowd of accusers had been on her client list.  Just saying.

So Jesus had no takers, and one by one with their heads hanging low they left. The crowd dispersed. The woman looked up at Jesus not knowing what to say.  He had saved her life, literally. Not waiting for her to speak or expecting her to speak, Jesus spoke, and he asked this question, “Where are your accusers?” The woman cautiously looked around to be sure, “They have all gone, sir.”

Jesus responded by saying, “Yes they have, and just so you know for sure neither do I condemn you.  God is love, and that love embraces you too.  Get out of this dust, and go back and start loving yourself.”  Living breathing encouragement.


Consider this description of encouragement:

Encouragement is positive feedback that focuses primarily on effort or improvement rather than outcomes. Encouragement is recognizing, accepting, and conveying faith in [someone] for the mere fact that he or she exists. The [person] does not have to be “the best” to be a full-fledged human being. With encouragement, [an individual] feels worthwhile and appreciated regardless of the results he or she achieves. Encouragement separates the deeds from the doer…. (from “cyc-online”).

Evans and Dreikurs give examples in their study, “The Language of Encouragement,” of encouraging words contrasted with words that are probably intended to be encouraging, but aren’t.  So, here are six encouraging statements, and the researchers had in mind a teacher-student or a parent-child relationship.  We should be able to translate these into words for grown-up, peer relationships.

“I think you can do it.”

“You have what it takes.”

“You’re a hard worker.”

“What do you think?”

“I could use your help.”

“It looks like a problem occurred.  What can we do to solve the problem?”

OK.  Now, comments that cannot encourage:

“Here, let me do that for you.”

“Be careful; it’s dangerous.”

“Don’t forget your assignment.”

“Let me give you some advice.”

“When you’re older, you can help.”

“I told you to be careful.”

I want to tell you a little tale about encouragement.  I have borrowed the story, but its author is unknown:

Three young frogs—new friends, who were still unwise about the ways of the world, were out one day, exploring their environment. They came to a dairy, and bold as could be they entered to investigate. The first thing they came upon was a bucket, and eager to know more about it, two of them jumped right in. The third frog, slightly more timid than his two pals, only jumped onto the rim of the bucket and looked down at his buddies struggling to get out of that white water. 

After several failed attempts, he shouted down to them, “You’ll never make it. Face facts and prepare to die!” But since self-preservation is the first rule of life for humans and animals alike, they continued to struggle for as long as possible. The frog on top kept spewing forth his pessimism, “You’ll never make it. Give up and die peacefully.” Unfortunately one of the two struggling frogs could not continue and disappeared below the surface never to be seen again.

The one remaining in the bucket continued despite the discouragement of his new would be friend on top of the bucket. After a short while his feet had a somewhat solid yellow substance to stand on. He had unwittingly made butter out of the cream on top of the milk. No sooner had he enough for a foothold than he positioned himself and jumped out of the bucket!  When rejoined by his comrade he thanked him profusely for all the encouragement he had shouted down to him. He would never have made it without his help, he insisted. The smug, negative frog looked at the survivor in complete confusion.  By the way, the frog who survived was deaf!

Psychiatrist Alfred Adler did not believe people with psychological disturbances were ill; instead, he thought they were discouraged.  The goal of Adlerian therapy is to help clients embrace and live with the power of encouragement.  An Adlerian therapist does this by helping clients affirm four realities.  If we dare to be encouragers rather than those who tear others down, we can learn from these four realities of encouragement; some of Adler’s devotees have helped us remember these through the use of alliteration:  connection, capability, counting, and courage.

Connection.  I have a place in this world, and I belong.

Capability.  I can do what I need to do.

Counting.  I am capable of making a difference.

Courage. I can cope with what comes my way.

A word from Johann von Goethe:  “Instruction does much, but encouragement everything.”