Perspective can be paramount. I once read about a child feeling overwhelmed at news stories of destruction and wrongs done in the world, until an adult told them to look for the helpers within the situation – those, perhaps quietly but always determinedly, countering the harms done. Placing themselves there sends a message to victims that they are worth supporting, and to those outside that good is the greater force in the end. That is the evidence of God’s presence in the face of everything bad, if we will recognise it. It creates the innumerable subtle shifts in the world that may seem futile up close, but do transform the bigger picture. We may naturally rail against the fact that bad things happen and ask why interventions were not made to avert such happenings, and despair at it all. It diminishes us to remain in that mindset though, when we may also choose to defy expectations and more boldly honour what is redemptive.
I score fairly highly in adverse childhood experiences. I have also been abused and bullied in later life. It is crushing to have trust betrayed and broken, particularly in a repeated and ongoing way in which a sense of helplessness can break a soul. I have had direct and indirect consequences of that manifest in and through me. Yet I have many good relationships, and far fewer of the negative life outcomes than might be expected. I have come through, and I have asked why…
My puppet team is called Starfish. This is partly to do with the shape of an outstretched hand, but also alludes to the story of many washed up starfish on a storm-tossed beach that were being flung back into the sea, one by one. A passer-by asked what the point of this was, given that so many starfish inevitably remained beached. The response? ‘It matters to that one’, as each single starfish was returned to a life-giving environment. A message of hope comes through small ongoing acts, and plays a part in protecting us all from nihilism.
It takes resolve and it brings resilience if we choose to ally ourselves with those countering the harms done. I am fortunate that some of those people chose to stand alongside me, to lift me from the gritty circumstances – people who have taught me to hope and to trust regardless of all the reasons not to. I am so thankful for them. I continue to look for the ways that I may pay that forward, and help defy the odds for us all.