There is a point some of us will reach, if we live long enough. It’s a dismal place devoid of anything good that no one ever dreams of reaching. It’s a crossroad and to get there you have to hurt, and when you think you can’t hurt any longer, that’s when the real hurt begins. It’s where life gets real, the end of the line, and a place where your bullshit doesn’t work anymore and it’s time to pay the piper.

The things we do and people we surround ourselves with to salve the scars of living in messy places, seeing, experiencing, and doing messy things suddenly are seen to be the hollow lies and liars that they have always been. Everything we wrapped ourselves in, money, power, influence, and relationships is stripped away and we are left standing in front of a mirror unable to see anything more than what’s standing there.

At that proverbial moment of truth, the crossroad, there are only three directions you can go.

You can go straight ahead and keep hustling, pretending and living an empty pointless life. You can go left and let bitterness and injustice be the excuse and let everything be someone or something else’s fault so you can justify not taking responsibility for your choices and not doing anything about the state of your life.

Or you can go right. But that requires humility, accountability, responsibility, honesty, and courage. When everything and everyone else is responsible for where you are in life you can only be a victim. When you make yourself responsible for where you are in life, then you have the power to make change. When you face challenges rather than whine about them, you learn from the experience, gain both confidence and wisdom and you get better at everything each time you do. When you hold yourself to a higher standard, you produce more and become better at all things you touch. And you never stop growing and improving and as you do that, you put the past behind you.

I’ve been there before and I made my choice. It wasn’t easy, but was much easier than living with a mirror I couldn’t stand looking into.

I know a young man that is at those crossroads now. He is behind bars and may be released soon depending on what the parole board says. When he went in to do his time he wore a red rag on his head that he thought made him a man. He carried a gun in his waistband that he thought made him tough. And he thought the things he took from others made him strong.

It didn’t. Today he is just another number issued by the state that is locked up in a place with a bunch of other numbers going nowhere and doing nothing but counting the seconds of their lives passing by. Most of them will end up back in that place soon after they are released and some will repeat that cycle their entire lives. They will blame their lot in life on a wide variety of things, but the truth is that each one of them chose their path.

I didn’t know it then but when God had stripped me down to nothing and stood me at the crossroads, there was someone praying for me.

So along with talking to this young man, I’m praying for him. If you are so inclined, I’d appreciate you praying for him too. You and I may be the only ones that care enough to do so.