I have practiced long enough to watch children grow into adults and forge their own paths. It is pleasing to see so many thriving young people in our community. But, because of the nature of my practice, I also see children and young adults who are on a dangerous and dark path of unpursued dreams, wasted talent, destruction, and jail. But, why?
I suppose there are many reasons why lives move in one direction or another. But, I have found one consistent element that exists in almost every tragic life. This is the failure to overcome the man’s most powerful adversary; himself.
This adversary does not discriminate. It destroys people regardless of race, gender, or any other defining characteristic.
While I do not believe in blaming others for a person’s current circumstances, I have noticed that the adversary oftentimes forms during childhood. Some children are told what they can and cannot become. These arbitrary limitations can become reality to the child.
For example, if a child is born into a “poor” home, he or she sees many people on television talk about poverty being a permanent condition. They are called “poor people” as if their economic status is a life sentence and cannot ever change. Some children who are currently poor are taught that they must perpetually rely on other people and institutions to survive because they do not have the ability or strength to break the chains of poverty or ever become self-sufficient.
Another common example is when someone tries to hold a child back by telling him that he is not smart enough, talented enough, good enough, etc. This is often done by a person the child greatly admires and desperately seeks approval from. Holding yourself back is a personal choice. Holding someone else back is a criminal act.
There are many other examples. As family and careers begin to form, self-made barriers can become more problematic. For some, those barriers are real and the adversary maintaining those barriers is in the mirror every morning.
However, the adversary can be overcome at any stage in life with God’s guidance.
When seeking God’s will, the man who was once burdened by his perceived limitations has the peace to pursue any goal, dream, or purpose that God has provided. The face in the mirror is no longer an adversary, but an ally. He is free.

The special needs child, who is stared at and told that she can only do certain things in life overcomes her life barriers. That child battles and overcomes those who would place artificial barriers in her way. The child does not allow society to determine what she will or will not be. She becomes a lawyer who specializes in the advocacy for the people without a voice; those with special needs and disabilities. She becomes a protector.

The young boy who is told by his financially successful father all his life that he will amount to nothing suffers in silence. The boy knows nothing of love; only that of hate. After struggles with addiction and mental health, he turns that fear into hope. His flight will take him on the path of the family and addiction counselor. With God’s direction, he will save many lives throughout his career. He will never become a millionaire, but the lives he will impact will shine forever as his father’s temporary money fails to follow him to the grave. He becomes the light in the darkness.

The little girl is a victim of sexual assault. She will never be the same. Her entire childhood is destroyed by a monster who haunts her dreams. With intense therapy, a caring family, and God’s love, the little girl recovers. She does not allow the monster to dictate the terms of her life. Years pass. That little girl dedicates her life to seeking justices for other victims. She becomes a gifted prosecutor. She will positively affect the lives of more battered victims than she will ever even realize. She becomes a warrior.

The poor student in coastal Georgia who is shunned by his schoolmates because of his race develops a great sense of rage. With the help of excellent mentors placed before him, that student turns his rage into a lifelong career of public service. He will endure constant criticism and verbal abuse because some believe that his political views “do not fit his racial background.” He will persevere with class and become a United States Supreme Court Justice. He becomes honor.

Today, I will commit to taking a couple of minutes this afternoon to tell a child that they can achieve any goal they choose. Would you consider doing the same?