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Facing your greatest adversary

“You can throw your hands up. You can beat the clock. You can move a mountain. You can break rocks. You can be a master. Don’t wait for luck. Dedicate yourself and you can find yourself standing in the hall of fame. And the world’s gonna know your name. ‘Cause you burn with the brightest flame. And you’ll be on the walls of the hall of fame.” ― The Script, Hall of Fame

This is one of my favorite songs of all time. However, the title is misleading. The song does not describe a list of heroes inducted into their respective Halls of Fame. It is quite the opposite.

This song tells us that we have only one adversary in life that can defeat us.

I have practiced law 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, we also see children take the dark path of unparsed dreams, wasted talent, destruction and jail. 

There are many circumstances that move our lives in one direction or another, but there is one consistent element that exists in almost every tragic life. This is the failure to overcome one’s most powerful adversary — the image staring back in the mirror.

The adversary oftentimes forms during childhood. Some children are told what they can and cannot become. These arbitrary limitations become reality.

A 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 an adult the child greatly admires and desperately seeks approval from. If the adult chooses to hold himself back, that is a personal choice. If he chooses to hold a child back, he has committed a criminal act of the highest order.

However, the adversary can be overcome at any stage in life with God’s guidance.

When seeking God’s will, the boy 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. He is an ally.

The special needs child, who is stared at and told that she can only do certain things in life, sees the face of a loser in the mirror. While she does not yet realize her gift, the strength to help others is unleashed. 

That child battles and overcomes her self-doubt and 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 chooses to be a public speaker who specializes in the advocacy for the people without a voice ­— those with special needs and disabilities. She becomes the protector. 

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 is transformed into a gifted prosecutor. She will positively affect the lives of more battered victims than she will ever even realize. She becomes the warrior.

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 fear, anger and hate. After years of battling his demons, he gives his battle to God. He begins his career as a family and addiction counselor. 

With God’s direction, he will save many lives. He will never become a millionaire. But, the lives he will impact will shine forever as his father’s temporary wealth fails to follow him to the grave. The boy becomes the light in the darkness.

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 background.” 

He will persevere with class and take his seat as a United States Supreme Court Justice. The student becomes honor.

These heroes, and many more, are in the Hall of Fame not because of their accomplishments. Their place is enshrined because they defeated their most powerful and only adversary — themselves.