As the recession continues to take its toll on individuals and the community, a state of   frustration and hopelessness seems to engulf some individuals. The belief starts forming from not being able to change things or not knowing where or how to start. The life-taking mindset of hopelessness can be a mental and emotional sand trap for the person going through a difficult time. Not only is it lethal for the person, but can be contagious to others. For individuals who may have been weakened by their own setbacks, this can have very life-taking effects on them as well.

During this time, I am reminded of “The Starfish Story” by Loren Eiseley. One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking up something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy he asked, “What are you doing?” The boy replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.” “Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!” After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “I made a difference for that one.”

This story speaks to something deep down inside of me. It gives me hope and inspiration. It gives me the energy and strength to continue to choose to make a difference. For me, it matters less if others approve of what I do to make a difference (I do and will  always make mistakes). It matters  most that I continue to listen to God and not give up on the possibility of being able to help just one person. It does not take a lot to become overwhelmed and discouraged under the pressure of negative circumstances, but, if we   continue seeking God’s guidance, surround ourselves with life-giving individuals and     inspirational stories, we will be able to stand strong and persevere.

Will you choose to stand strong and make a difference?

Kevin Polky, CADC, LCSW