“You can be anything you set your mind to.”
It’s a thought that tickles our ears, no doubt. However, it has no basis in reality, which is why anyone that subscribes to it inevitably ends up suffering devastating spiritual and psychological consequences. That is because everyone, eventually, bumps up against truth that, by definition, is immutable.
To pretend that the truth is malleable is to enter a world that can never exist. It is to see things not as they are, but as we are. Which, if we don’t see things clearly or accurately, can lead to, to put it mildly, unintended consequences. In other words, in our attempt to manipulate the world, we end up manipulating ourselves.
There is no person that is so clever that he can outsmart or outrun or outclass the truth. Try as we might, there are things about us and the natural world that cannot ever be changed. To accept those things is not only the only logical thing to do, it is also the only reasonable and psychologically healthy thing to do. I am reminded of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
We can change our focus. We can change our feelings. We can change our attitudes. We can change our behavior. However, we cannot change our biology. We cannot change the nature of good and evil.
Interestingly, that does not mean that our potential is limited. Not in the slightest. It’s just that to realize our potential we must embrace the truth. To argue otherwise would be to suggest that the truth is inconsequential. Or, just as irrational, that there is no truth. Which, of course, if there is no truth couldn’t be true. Which means that some things have to be true. The challenge for us is to discover the truth, not think that we can create it.
We cannot be anything we set our minds to. Indeed, we can be so much more. As long as we are willing to discover and accept and live according to the truth, regardless of our challenges, God can make of us so much more than we could ever make of ourselves.