How Being A Captive Can Set You Free

Ashley Smith’s life was forever changed on a night back in 2005 when she became the hostage victim of escaped “courthouse killer” Brian Nichols. Smith was a struggling drug addict and widowed mother who had lost her way in life and was on a path to self destruction when Nichols showed up at her apartment one night at 2am and kept her as a hostage for the next 7 hours. The incident is the subject of a new film titled Captive, which is based on Smith’s book, Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero and is opening in theaters September 18th.

Since her chance encounter with Nichols, Smith has found a renewed purpose in life, reestablishing her relationship with her daughter and encouraging others to find a new path in life, no matter how lost they may have become. Here are 5 quotes from Ashley that demonstrate how being a captive can help you find new meaning and motivation in life:

The greatest treasures are those invisible to the eye but found by the heart.

When Brian Nichols showed up at Ashley Smith’s apartment in the middle of the night, her life was anything but ordinary. She had been to drug rehab 3 times, had lost her husband, and due to her health and lifestyle, had lost custody of her daughter. But then the most unexpected experience of her life happened, and when it was finished, Smith emerged a changed person, with renewed determination and perspective.

Had it not been for her chance encounter with Nichols, she may never have come to her life changing revelation, but from her experience she found a new purpose in life and can now encourage others in unfavorable life situations to do the same. It may be impossible to know how a chance encounter will affect our lives, so try to keep an open mind and you may be surprised by what you can gain from even the most stressful situations.

Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.

Ashley Smith had lost perception of her dreams and was wandering aimlessly through life when Brian Nichols came knocking on her door. During their time together, Smith recognized her own destructive life patterns in Nichols, who had just committed murder and was a drug-addict himself. She then decided she would never do drugs again and would make a legitimate effort to turn her life around.

Nichols provided Smith with the ability to set goals and dreams for her life from that point on, including being drug free and finding new a new purpose. The experience has allowed her to gain an appreciation for the small things in life that many people take for granted: a breath of fresh air on a breeze or a small child’s laughter. Remember that no matter what your situation in life is, you have the ability to turn your life around.

If I can say no to somebody that has a gun in my face, then I'll never do them again. And not only will I not do them again, I'm going to fight against them for those people that can't stop doing them, to show them, 'Look, you can.

Ashley Smith may not have realized it, but her new purpose of inspiring others in similar situations as her own began the night Brian Nichols came to her apartment. She read aloud to him from Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life, earning his sympathy and trust as she began to encourage him to turn himself in for his crimes.

Since then, Smith has acted as a motivational figure to many in similar situations. She has emerged as an icon of self-rehabilitation and has spent the last decade encouraging others to turn their lives around by saying, “I did it, and so can you.” Whether you are struggling with drug addiction or in the midst of trying to accomplish another long-term goal, remember that anything is possible if you truly put your mind to it.

I don't really wish that it didn't happen because it has changed my life so much. If it didn't happen, I don't know if I ever would have woken up.

We try to maintain as much control over our lives as possible, but at the end of the day we can never be fully prepared for what life is going to throw at us. Ashley Smith found herself in a dire situation that could have ended in her death, but rather than allow herself to be forever traumatized by the incident, she turned a near-death experience into the best thing that ever happened to her.

Although our paths in life remain uncertain, we cannot allow ourselves to shy away from the opportunity to gain new perspective. If you find yourself in a stressful situation, do your best to face it courageously and recognize that you will gain something from it. Ashley Smith recognized, in the face of life or death, that she wanted to live a better life, and so she took steps to begin her long road to fulfillment rather than let her situation keep her down. She made the choice to live and to learn, and if you maintain a positive attitude, you can do the same.

You are the center of your universe, and you can make anything happen.

The only truths we know in life are those that we discover for ourselves. No one else can live your life for you; you must find a way to live life in a way that is right for you. Only then can you hope to accomplish your dreams and help others to do the same.

Recognizing that you have a dream that you wish to achieve is the first step on your way to success. For Ashley Smith, it took a life-or-death situation in order to realize her dream, but once she realized that dream, it was up to her to make it a reality. This is a universal truth. Once you know your dream, it is up to you to make it come true. Just remember to be brave, open minded, and willing to accept help when you need it, and anything that you can imagine can become a reality for you as well.