A man walked along a quiet beach, every so often picking up the starfish that had found themselves stranded outside the reach of the water. He’d throw them back into the waves and carry on with his journey, repeating the rescue whenever he came across another victim. A while into his journey he was met by a stranger who questioned him about why he kept repeating this hopeless mission. The stranger explained that there were so many starfish on this beach and on every beach for that matter. He questioned what the man was trying to achieve if his actions made no difference to the greater problem. The man smiled, bent down, picked up another helpless star and threw it into the surf. With a smile he answered the stranger saying “It makes a difference to this one.”
I sometimes feel the orphan crisis is like this. Not only are their beaches filled with starfish but there are also people who come along and question why they should be thrown back. Race, culture, age, disability, finances, bureaucracy, bonding, abuse, family and the list of reasons to let those little stars lay on the beach continues to grow.
I never went to Sunday school, but with the benefit of children and kiddy friendly worship CD’s I am able to close my eyes and sing the fruit of the spirit song in my head, you know the one “The fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Kindness and ……” What’s the last one? Oh yes, SELF CONTROL.
I must admit, I seldom put any focus on the fact that self control is a Fruit of the Spirit. I often act as if it’s presence has very little to do with my choices and more to do with how others treat me.
The greatest indicator of this Fruit’s absence in my life is shown by my reaction to my sons’ when they decide to find every button that I possess and proceed, with surgical accuracy, to push each and every one of them, over and over again. Typically this happens when we are already 10 minutes late for something, lacking my morning coffee intake or just generally when I’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed, something I feel, at least at the moment, is not my fault and cannot be controlled by me either.
I remember sitting in my first adoption training session at a local church, staring at a board, engaging with the questions around why adoption rates in South Arica are so low. I was faced with a question around the screening behind adoption and whether our checks and balances are too strict.
I remember clearly, declaring with absolute certainty that they were, only to be comprehensively rebuffed by the lady leading the course that the processes followed in screening parents were not to blame. More than this they were necessary, practical and perhaps slightly too lenient.
We have come a fair way since that first “knowledgable” outburst of mine, but the question still remains, what is the solution?