Life can be painfully difficult for a single mother raising children in the midst of poverty.
So it was for Sonya Carson when her husband abandoned her and her children. Having only a third-grade education, she cleaned houses and ironed clothes for a living. Eventually she became ill and suffered extreme mental depression. “The pressure became so great that I couldn’t fight any more,” says Sonya. “I was convinced that nobody cared whether I lived or died, and I was sure my boys would be better off in foster care. One morning I swallowed twenty-four sleeping pills, planning to fall into a peaceful sleep and never wake again.”
But Sonya woke in the hospital, and something happened that changed her life. A woman came to visit her, and she began to teach Sonya how to read the Bible and pray. Slowly, faith replaced the fear in Sonya’s heart, and she cried out: “Lord, if You can take nothing and make the world out of it, You can take my situation and make it work — for my boys’ sake. My boys deserve a chance.”
Sonya went home and continued to pray, asking God to help her to say and do the right things to motivate her sons and not discourage them. When her sons, Curtis and Ben, came home from school with failing report cards, she asked God for wisdom. While she was praying, the idea came to put them on a book assignment. This meant that their television viewing would be limited to two preselected programs each week, which they could watch only after homework was done. In addition, they were instructed to read two books from the library each week and write book reports.
When the boys complained, Sonya told them, “Education is the only way you’ll ever escape poverty. If you keep getting bad grades, you’re going to spend the rest of your life on skid row. That’s not what God wants for you!”
Sonya allowed no excuses for failure, teaching her boys that they could become whatever God wanted them to be. She said: “After I got acquainted with God, I just knew that God did not make any race inferior or superior. We were black, but that did not mean we were dumb and supposed to fail.”
Sonya’s boys accomplished their book assignments, acquired a love for reading, began succeeding in the classroom, and attended college.
Curtis became a successful engineer, designing aircraft brakes for a major engineering firm. Dr. Ben Carson is a Professor of Neurosurgery, Plastic Surgery, Oncology and Pediatrics, and the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. In 2008 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Virginia Dawkins can be reached at email@example.com.