I Knew You Cared
April 1983

“I Knew You Cared,” Ensign, Apr. 1983, 29

“I Knew You Cared”

With a crash, the door to the seminary room burst open and there he stood—six feet two inches of belligerent, broad-shouldered young manhood. He seemed to say, “Well, here I am. What are you going to do about it?”

Struggling to maintain my cool, I smiled at him and asked him to please take a seat near the door. Thankfully, he did. During the rest of the class, as I prayed for the Spirit to be with me, he sat—slumped down in his chair with an almost disdainful expression on his face. After class I went to him, and with a smile and a gentle tap on his shoulder told him how glad I was that he had come. And I was glad! He smiled an “Oh-yeah-I’ll-bet” kind of smile and left, shoving two girls aside, mussing their hair as he went. Would he ever come again? I wondered the rest of the day and all night.

Next morning he did come again. And again, after class, I went out of my way to greet him. Looking a little surprised, he half smiled. Still, on his way out of class he pushed a girl’s books on the floor and shoved a couple of the smaller boys around. Next morning, the same old routine, with a slug for everyone in his way as he rushed out. And so it went, day after day, the same procedure continuing with little variation except he started lingering after class so I could get to him to give him a hug. Sweet encouragement in an otherwise discouraging situation—he still would not read our class assignments and would draw comic pictures on all his test papers.

Then, on an ordinary Monday morning, as I gave a lesson on Job, the ice began to melt. I felt the Holy Spirit with me as I recalled for the class the trials and challenges Job faced. Job loved the Lord, and the Lord loved him but still allowed him to be tested and to taste much that is bitter. This day he lingered even longer as many of the students crowded around me with their comments and feelings about this story of Job. And as I gave him a hug, I felt a response for the very first time.

The next morning while waiting for the seminary students to arrive, I stood at the window gazing at the beautiful sunrise. (Our class started at 6:30 A.M.) I heard the door open and suddenly felt someone by my side. Then I heard a soft voice (one I hadn’t heard before) say, “It is a beautiful world, isn’t it?”

He had a look of love (also new to me) on his face, and peace radiating from his presence. “You know,” he said, “for the first time in my life I realize that God doesn’t have favorites.”

I responded that God loves all his children, just as our earthly fathers love all their children. He said, “Correction. God may love me, but my earthly father must not.”

And then he opened his heart, telling me of his father’s constant sarcasm and criticism, his belittling of every effort or accomplishment, and of their unhappy home life. He went on, almost reluctantly, to tell me of his feeling of abandonment when he could look around him and see other fellows in happy homes, and, most of all, with loving fathers. All his life he had thought God must have favorites, and he definitely was not one. In fact, he was certain that he really didn’t matter to anyone!

And then he said the thing that filled my soul with joy, “But you cared! I knew you really cared the first day in seminary, and so I came back.”

Do you like happy endings? This young man went on to finish seminary, to fill a mission, and eventually to marry a lovely girl in the House of the Lord. Perhaps he still carries emotional scars because of his unhappy early home life—but because he discovered he was loved, he has been able to overcome much, and he will overcome much more.

  • Dorothy Shaw, mother of two, teaches Sunday School in her Salt Lake City ward.