He buttressed it with the same conviction I’d employ were I arguing the earth isn’t flat. Then, as though to emphasize the finality of his statement, he hocked up a swallow of tobacco and spit it two yards to his left.
A done deal.
I bit back my Northern sarcasm. Although an art form where I come from, it’s not well-received here in the South.
I’ve learned that.
Instead, I offered a gentle thought.
“Well, sir, you can always get anywhere from wherever. It just takes more turns, don’t you think?”
He took a deep breath, glanced up the road, then cut it back to me, and shook his head. “Naaa, you can’t—”
“Get there from here,” I repeated with him. “Yes, you said that. Look, Hortense is just ahead, right? I’ll find a fire station and ask for directions.”
“Well, now dere you go,” he said with a nod of the head. “You can git dere from Hortense.”
I blinked. Waited for him to laugh, reveal that he was joking.
I bit harder. Some retorts demand release. Still, I reined it in. “Okay, well, can you tell me how to get to Hortense, then how to get from Hortense to there?”
I got there.
And, along the way I collected the blessing of insight.
Be careful whom you ask for advice or direction through life. Too distant from the topic, and the advice might be unreliable. Too close, and it may be jaded, biased.
When someone says you can’t, be wary. They’re answering from their perception, their experience, their fears, their view of the world.
There’s more than one way to get wherever you want to be. Forge a new path if you have to. Simplified: If you are here, and “there ” is where you want to be, persevere until you find a way to get there.
Someone wise once said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re always 100% right.”
You believe you can and you keep at it until the here and the there switch places.
Jesus taught us in Luke (18:27), “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
Nothing is Impossible
Nothing. Think about that. Such power and hope in that realization.
What if wounded warriors abided by can’t ?
Or aspiring athletes?
Or cancer patients?
Or wanna-be parents?
Or Noah? Or Mother Teresa? Or the American colonists?
I’ll never forget attending a church service with my son and his girlfriend in his college town. That week, he was in the midst of a mental dilemma, finding a certain aspect of his choice of study so challenging that he was courting the idea of changing his major. He believed his knowledge and ability to grasp certain concepts was limited. That he had barriers.
And bless that sweet pastor’s heart, he asked the congregation, “Are you facing a quitting point?”
Then, he delivered the line that had me scrambling for pen and paper: We build endurance when we learn how to crash through our quitting points.
I watched my son’s eyebrows rise, his back straighten.
When we’re trying to get from A to B, as I was with the old-timer, and as my son was with his major, how many times do we give up because we buy into the notion of impossible? Or, because we listen to someone say “you can’t”…?
I’ve attended writing conferences and heard, “Don’t do this and this and this,” or, “You can’t A, B and C because publishers won’t buy it.” I cringe. Author J.K. Rowling was told the same thing several rejected times before finding a good home for The Harry Potter series.
When I hear church members say, “A Christian can’t do this or do that,” I likewise cringe. The implication: You can’t get to heaven by doing that.
You can’t get there from here. Not on that path.
But I’m not trying to do things the Baptist way, or the Protestant way, or the Lutheran way. I’m trying to do things God’s way. And that’s an individual path. A very personal undertaking, don’t you think? One that no one else should judge. The path for me is what God places on my heart, and it has no barriers.
So when an old-timer or a professor or a writing instructor or a church member or Joe Schmo says we can’t, we need to remember that it’s possible that we can.
We can get there from here.
(Oh, and if you’re wondering, my son earned four A’s and one B that semester, and is still in his major of choice.)