The other night, Justin and I were talking about “second chances” and how blessed we are that our Lord gives us many of them and not just two as the phrase would infer. As he spoke, it made me think about the series of heartbreaks I experienced over the years and how truly blessed I am now that I finally found love after three “second chances”. Blessed not only because our Lord gave me three “second chances”, but blessed because he threw in a bonus — an opportunity to redefine and expand the meaning of family. Like many, the first time out at love I was young and foolish. Not realizing I already had it, I gave it up for a “second chance”. I soon regretted that “second chance” as it eventually ended in divorce. When I finally opened my heart up to the possibility of love again many years later, I was older, but still a bit foolish when it came to my second “second chance” with love. Still young-at-heart and naive in many ways, I had feelings for my third love that I now know he never felt for me. The relationship eventually ran its course , ending with bad feelings on both sides. It wasn’t until I made a conscious decision to change myself and my life rather than expecting the world to change for me that love finally came to me. Interestingly enough it finally came when I no longer pursued it. Since then I have truly appreciated its many forms.
Whether you’re an athlete (Tiger Woods, Michael Vick, Roger Clemens, or Alex Rodriguez), a politician (Elliot Spitzer, Gary Hart, or Richard Nixon), an ex con, drug addict, a single parent, or an “average Joe or Josephine” who said or did something they later regretted , we often hear the mantra, ‘everybody deserves a second chance.’ Is this really true? Should we always give another a second chance? Are there any circumstances where someone does not deserve a second chance? For example, when they said or did something deemed “unforgivable” for the umpteenth time. Or, should we always err on the side of forgiveness?
“Second chances” are not only about forgiveness and reconciliation; they are also about treating others in a way we too wish to be treated. For example, if you lost your savings and had to file for bankruptcy, wouldn’t you want a “second chance” to gain financial stability? If you lost your job at no fault of your own for the third time, wouldn’t you want a local employer to have enough faith in you to hire you? After going through a divorce, or a series of betrayals or abusive relationships, wouldn’t you want yet another chance to know lasting love? “Second chances” are about offering hope to those who only know of despair; unconditional love to those who only know anger, hatred, or indifference; trust to those who only know of betrayal; and abundance to those only knowing poverty. In real terms, it means providing programs that help ex-cons, drug addicts, and single parents who want to change their life in a positive direction find work and be able to stay on course. It means donating food and clothing the homeless and lower income individuals who find themselves without the necessary resources to sustain themselves; providing rehabilitation centers and transitional housing for those who need a chance to heal; and offering after-school programs to our at-risk youth who are in need of positive role models to turn their lives around.
Does everyone deserve a “second chance”? Absolutely. A third, fourth, and a million second chances too. As Peter asked Jesus in Matthew 18:21-22, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” To that Jesus replied, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” In doing so though it doesn’t mean you have to be stupid or naive about it. For example, if your son embezzles money from your business, a “second chance” may mean forgiveness and reconciliation so as to maintain a loving relationship with him. You do have to be smart enough about it though as to not hire him to do the books for your business. Or if a former love cheated on you, a “second chance” may mean to take a step back, learn from the mistakes you made in the relationship, and work through the issues so you have a chance to remain friends after the split. It doesn’t mean, however, you should renew a romance with him anytime soon.
What a “second chance” is really about is giving others what we want others to give us…. as many opportunites as it takes to learn and grow from our mistakes; a safe place to make whatever changes are needed to move our life in a positive direction; and most of all a chance to reclaim what we may have once had, to reach our full potential, and to become… the person God meant us to be. So don’t save “second chances” for the holiday season. Rather, offer them up to all the lives you touch every day of the year.
Remember … touch a life today “The Little Way” by following the lead and need of others. Also, if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish my community, knew…”, then be sure to visit White Light Communications at http://www.tothewhitelight.com.