I remember being a miserable kid. I was chronically truant and my best friends seemed to be the “God-peddlers” knocking on my door. You know, those religious people of every persuasion going door-to-door in a well-meaning way. At the time they seemed to be there just to entertain my boredom and to keep me company. Of course, there was the local police coming over to tell me through closed doors and windows that I wasn’t in school. Brilliant; even I knew THAT. I was failing academically and apparently showed very little potential for the bigger and better things of this life. They told me that I would never go to college. In fact, they told my parents to get me a trade and at the rate I was going, I would probably have time to pick one up in prison!
One day I was sent to yet another guidance counselor, and I suppose this one was expected to “break the code” of my silence. My favorite “word’ in those days was a downward look and a shrug of my shoulders. If I had to speak then “I don’t know” seemed appropriate, but back to the guidance counselor. I didn’t know it at the time, but he looked into my soul and gave voice to something that no one else saw, and that I didn’t dare to fathom, although I knew it was true. I sat in silence as he paged through the notes, reports, and files that had been accumulated about my seemingly hopeless situation. I’ll never forget his tossing all the “evidence” on the desk behind him and then looking at me in silence. I thought, “Here comes the showdown”. I remember thinking, “I can win this one” because I talked to so few in those days. I’ll never forget his six words to me and he said, “I think you’ll go to college”. With that he said I could leave, and I promptly did just that, true to form, without a word. Yet, something profound happened in those six words. He spoke against the crowd. He spoke against the evidence. He took time to look into my soul and agreed with something that I only vaguely knew, but could not claim. This is Simple Encouragement, speaking life to potential.