Close to thirteen years ago, Jason Lang went for an early morning drive with his father in Tabor, a small town in western Canada. You see, he had recently purchased an older Camaro and was up early on the morning of April 28th learning how to drive a standard. His dad, Dale, gave him a quick driving lesson, and then he was off to high school. It was Wednesday. It was just another day. Or so it seemed.
It has been almost thirteen years since Jason was standing in a hallway at W.R. Meyers High School with a friend, when a troubled young man appeared with a gun. And it was loaded. Before they realized what was happening, and had time to react, shots rang out and they both fell. But Jason would never get up. An ambulance came quickly and he was rushed to the hospital, but he died later that day. It was his older brother’s birthday. Jason was only seventeen.
After reading Jason Has Been Shot! by Rev. Dale Lang and Mark Lang, I find myself wondering what Jason could have become if he had been given a chance – if he hadn’t been a victim of a random act of violence. You know, he would have been almost thirty years old by now. All grown up. He could have been someone. He could have made a difference, a big difference, somewhere. But since I never knew him personally, I can only guess how his life might have turned out. His parents, his brothers and his sister, will never really know either. They must wonder sometimes, though; perhaps when they see a Camaro just like Jason’s drive by.
For his brother, Jeff, birthday’s will never be the same. Just another reminder that Jason never really got a chance to grow up.
Sadly, many more stories like this could be told. People in every province and state, and almost every city and town, have mournful memories that linger. If it isn’t a Kennedy or a King, it is a Lincoln or a Lang. This tragic event happened just days after the horrible shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. So many lives cut short. Such a waste. Such a loss of potential. School is supposed to be a place where young people prepare for a positive and productive future; a place where you develop and grow; a place where young people like Jason Lang flourish and thrive. But one bullet can block the way.
That would be a major potential roadblock.
When a life has been lost people seem to become more aware, painfully aware, that something significant is now missing. People who had been pushed aside, ignored and put down, suddenly now seem to matter – a lot. Vision is clarified by suffering. It becomes apparent that something beautiful, that was just beginning, has now come to a tragic end. And death definitely blocks the way. There are, however, many things much less final but serious nonetheless that can prevent people from fulfilling their potential.
A flawed philosophy of life, for instance, can hold you back. Bad or incomplete theology can do the same. A lack of specific and personal advice can leave you standing still when you should be moving ahead. Poverty can leave you on the sidelines. Political instability can keep you down. A lack of physical or emotional health will make a big difference. And then, just missing out on positive, healthy, affirmation early on in life prevents many from making significant progress towards a brighter future. Finally, poor career and life planning can be like a concrete barrier that stands in your way.
To be sure, there are many other roadblocks that could also be blocking your way, and preventing you from developing your full potential.
John Dewey said that, “A problem well stated is a problem half solved.” So what exactly is holding you back from fulfilling your potential? What is it precisely that is standing, as it were, blocking your way? Try to determine what it is for you.
Make sure that if you’re still alive thirteen years from now, whatever is presently holding you back is no longer standing in the way.
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