So this is a bit out of left field. My focus is typically on Fathering, Adoption, family and the like. That’s who I am, that’s what I love and am passionate about and that’s what I feel called to write on. But in the past 3 weeks I have had a burning to add my 2 cents to the discussion on the challenges being faced by both the students and educational institutions in South Africa. Perhaps my voice will fall amongst the noise made by a thousand other opinions and perhaps it won’t stand as a voice of reason for either side, but it is a voice nonetheless and more importantly, it is the voice of someone looking through the eyes of a father, dreaming for his children, remembering his past and hoping my kids navigate their journeys better than those that came before them.
Before I exhale what has been chewing on my thoughts let me disclose a few things and add a few caveats.
Firstly, I am white (or rather peach to be more accurate) and I come from a privileged background. I won’t apologise for the sacrifices made for that privilege as they were made with the best of intentions and fuelled by a love for me by my parents. But, whilst I won’t apologise, I also cannot peddle the lie that I am not privileged. I suppose given my complexion and my previous statement, I am a benefactor of white (peach) privilege.
We pride ourselves in the knowledge that we live in a time like no other. A time where the amount of information created, consumed and freely available is beyond anything we’ve experienced in the past. We exist in a time where at the push of a button, we achieve access to nearly every answer man has ever discovered or needed. I have in the palm of my hand a venerable magic wand which, when fully charged, is able to give its possessor God like knowledge and understanding.
From the correct spelling of the world longest word (pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis for those of you who’d like to know) to the requirements to produce atomic energy, every single person has the ability to answer every single question ever asked, and in most cases correctly.
So why do I get the sense that in spite of limitless knowledge, common sense and general good choices seem to be on the decline?
I have heard it said that those without children, know the most about parenting. It seems as though the moment we are thrust in the reality of parenthood, we lose all that wisdom that seemed to ooze out whenever we saw a child acting out or a mom/dad attempting to get their little one to do something. Oh how I long for those days where I knew it all and unashamedly would let parents know with my gaze of all-knowing-ness.
But as much as those without children may have attained new heights of enlightenment, the one thing they will never know until they themselves are parents is the almost spiritual connectedness we as parents feel toward other parents and their challenges, successes and losses. I feel this when watching things like America’s Got Talent. I have absolutely no connection to the 12 year old girl who blows the crowd away with her voice, but when I see the love in her parents eyes, the pride, the hope and the joy as she gets that golden buzzer, at this moment I find I connect with them. I am proud, I feel emotion and I’m so happy!
But as much as we can feel joy for one another’s successes, we feel an equal but opposite loss when there is pain. When moments arise where worlds are shattered, time stands still and people battle to breathe as a result of their loss. In these times, our worlds shatter with yours, out time stands still too and we lose our breath with you.
South Africa is a country with a fractured past a challenging present, and at times, a worrying future. adding fuel to the complexities that come with 11 national languages, many different tribes, huge economic divides, massive unemployment and unresolved racism/prejudices are worldwide events such as #BLACKLIVESMATTER, #BLUELIVESMATTER, ISIS and general uncertainty.
I sit today a little scared! Not because of crime, not because of the uncertainty, not even because of terrorism. Today I find myself more aware than I have ever been that my children may experience things I cannot prepare them for. They may experience things that many have been exposed to for centuries, but for them it will be a lesson that I feel ill-equipped to teach effectively. Continue reading
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t REALLY matter.”
This quote by DL Moody struck me when I was preparing for a preach on Ephesians 2 where we read that we were created “To Do” good works that have been designed for us long ago.
As a proviso, I know many great churches with many great people doing great things and I also know of many great churches filled with great people who are doing very little, so this is not a bash at the church or at people, remembering that the church is Jesus’s bride and we are so important to Him that He went to the cross for us, so who am I to take a position of judgement over either.
I’m feeling a little despondent today! I’m sensing the enormity of the challenge and I’m weighed down by the reality of the need. I’m troubled that so many believe and have accepted our own adoption as sons’ and daughters’ into God’s family, and yet the idea of adoption for many is as far from them them as the East is from the West.
We have freely received and therefore should freely give, as Jesus says, but what does this mean? Continue reading
I remember several years ago, sitting in my first adoption class, learning, discovering, being challenged and without my knowing, having my path severely altered.
I also remember the group being asked to give our thoughts on birth moms. Quick as a cat I rememb shuffling my position to one of complete ignorance and judgement. The exact words escape me but my position was based on judging a mom who could give away her child because I could never do that. Thankfully, the lady leading us was skillfully able to highlight the errors in my position in a way that simultaneously corrected my mindset and convicted me to be part of the solution.
Of course I couldn’t relate, of course I could never have given up my first-born, but then again, I never had to! I never stared into the dark only to have fear look back at me, I never viewed my wives pregnancy as anything other than a joy. I never had my dreams shattered over a period of 9 months, I never was abandoned to live out the consequences of my decisions, or perhaps abandoned to live out the consequences of someone elses choices on my body. I never endured ridicule at the possibility of having to drop out of school, to explain to people why I didn’t use protection or couldn’t say no. Continue reading
For some years now, since starting on our journey of adoption, My wife and I have often wondered how we could do more to help the Fatherless. We have limited capacity, we have limited space, practically, the need is too great.
But what if we were to focus on our pond? What if we threw a pebble in our pond, and the people at the pond next door thought “We can do that” and so on. Very quickly we arrive at a place where we don’t have to feel like we are fighting the battle alone, all of a sudden the little I have takes on a new value because it is added to the little someone else has. Very soon, a trickle becomes a stream, becomes a river which becomes a body of water that can now affect massive change.
It is a sad irony that in a world of excess many exist with great need
This is where I find myself. In a world where excess is normal, we also find great lack existing. How do these two polar opposites exist juxtapose?
Last year we started the The Fatherheart Fund, to date the response has been less than inspiring. I’ve spent sometime looking over world and South African Statistics and it’s scary! Continue reading