Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Making a Difference

I remember hearing this story when I was a very young child. And it has stuck with me. When I started doing foster care, I started thinking of this story over and over. Here is how it goes.

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After a storm, a man went down to the beach for a walk. As he walked he could see that the storm had tossed up lots of starfish. The beach was covered with them.

The man rounded a bend and came upon a little boy running up and down the beach. He would pick up a starfish and throw it into the sea. He did this over and over again as the man approached.

"What are you doing?" the man asked.

"I'm saving the starfish." the boy said.

"But son, you can't save them all." the man said. "Look at the beach, there are thousands of starfish. You are just one boy. You won't make a difference."

The boy looked up into the man's face for a long moment. Then he looked down at his hands holding a starfish. Then he turned and tossed the starfish back into the sea.

Then with his back still to the man. "I made a difference to that one." The boy said. "And now there are two of us."

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Right now, the foster care system of the State of Utah is running out of homes. The workers have let my wife and I know that they will place as many children with us as we will take. But we can't take more right now, we have to help the ones we have feel safe and secure.

If I let myself I could panic thinking of all of the others. The starfish that I can't reach. Ones that will have to be helped by someone else.

My wife and I feel really privileged to be able to take care of the children that have come to our home. The ones we have now. The ones we have given back, and the ones we will get to keep forever.
I know that I'm making a difference. I'm not a perfect parent, my wife is closer to it that I am. But I don't have to be super-dad to make a difference.

I like watching star trek too much.
I lose my temper sometimes and yell. (but I try not to.)
I have to remind myself they are just kids sometimes.
I respond sarcastically when the 10th child has asked if we are there yet.

And yet with all of these flaws, they let me have more children. With a house bursting with people, they let me have children. It really is a crisis when they ask me and my wife if we are ready for more.

But please don't ask me if we have enough or if we are going to stop. Because I'll ask you a question right back. Are you going to take my place?  There are still starfish on the sand. I'll take a break as soon as they are all in the water.

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