I actually need your help on this one. Where do we stand with the idea of second chances? It doesn’t really matter where the second chance is applied; be it relationships, experiences or even when it comes to offering yourself one; do you lean to or do you lean against? Personally, I don’t know. Experience has taught me that when it comes to second chances, I should not be a fan. That seeing the best in people and giving them the benefit of the doubt is not always the smartest decision, that when they say “when a person shows you who they are believe them,” they aren’t making it up, and that second chances don’t promise different outcomes. And I won’t lie, I tend to agree. So if I had to give you an answer it would be that; that second chances are more often than not, not a good thing — by giving them, you end up the loser with the short end of the stick. But is that really always the case or is denying a second chance just another layer of bricks we put on the wall we build around ourselves?
Again, I don’t know. But if I had to venture a guess, I think as people (especially when it comes to other people) we really use it as a defence mechanism. A second chance is no longer a symbol of possibility or growth or even opportunity, just the words themselves — second chance — have become synonymous with failure, weakness, lack of self worth, self love and stupidity to name a few. So if you think about it, it’s not about the second chance itself, it’s more about what the second chance represents. Don’t believe me? Okay, exercise 1. Think of someone who hurt you, or someone you have fallen out with. Now think of the reasons why. Okay, now think of the conversations you had with yourself, friends or family about said person and the falling out or hurt done to you, and now imagine telling them you have decided to give that person a second chance. How does that make you feel? Exactly. My guess is half the time you’re making that decision you’re dealing with issues of pride and appearance etc, and not what the second chance could present. I say “could” because yes, there is no denying that second chances don’t promise different outcomes, and not every one deserves a second chance. Some hurts can’t be looked past simply because second chances exist. But #unpopularopinion, no matter how thinly you slice the bread there’s always another side, and thats why second chances could present the opposite of what we protect ourselves from.
I know first hand that offering — (or let me rather use the word accepting, because ain’t no body trying to give out these things like candy) — so, accepting a second chance is complex stuff. It really requires a lot out of you, and herein (for me) lies the problem, because the way I see it, it’s a bit of an unfair situation for someone to hurt or disappoint you and then you (the offended) have to put in work for them to be able to make it right?
But that’s the reality folks, forgiveness (because let’s face it; is really what we are dealing with when it comes to second chances, and which by the way is a hell of a lot of work) requires effort and responsibility from both you and the other person involved. But we don’t often see it that way, we often think and expect that it is all up to the other person. For me, when I have been hurt or disappointed, my immediate reaction is: I will not take responsibility, and I will not put in the effort. Why? Because I feel like it just allows the other person to get away scot-free. Like if I do, I’ve created a space in which they are able to take advantage of me or that they will no longer understand the true effect of their actions. And so in order for that to happen, I need to be judge, jury and executioner. It’s only right, right? Apparently not. Not the way Gos sees it anyway. Because if you look at real forgiveness, forgiveness the way it is described in the Bible, as children of God we are meant to forgive even when forgiveness hasn’t been asked for. Which implies that effort, the real effort; that’s on you, the offended.
But let’s just say for arguments sake the person has asked for forgiveness, or for a second chance, why is it still difficult? Again, I think it’s because we think we have a lot to lose by doing it and so we protect ourselves by shutting that door before even considering it. We take the old paint brush we had when something similar happened with someone else and paint this other person with that same brush. We take the results of past experiences and apply them to present situations, and honestly there is nothing wrong with that, because those are lessons; it would be foolish not to learn from a lesson. And the lesson is, sometimes we do need to protect ourselves, and sometimes we do need to be cautious, because sometimes people are just not good for us, but, here is another #unpopularopinion, not everyone is the same. Not everyone seeks to hurt or disappoint you, and not everyone will take advantage of you, but, what everyone does do, is make mistakes. Sometimes someone will do something unintentionally that hurts you, breaks your trust, disappoints you and sometimes they may not even know they have and the only opportunity they have at that moment to be different is a second chance. I remember in the past I used to be accused of cutting people (read: friends) off with such swiftness. I wouldn’t even give them a chance to explain themselves; as soon as I was hurt, or offended (in a real way) I’d be like #thankyounext and they’d be left wondering what the hell happened, until someone had to point out to me that this was not only wrong but also not fair to that other person. But as far as I was concerned, and this is still very true FYI, I had the freedom and liberty to choose the people I associated with, but sometimes (I hate to admit) this freedom was abused, so I had to learn to try look past my feelings and instead try to understand the context of the other person’s actions. As tough as it was, I truly understood that even though someone may love me, sometimes mistakes happen, and sometimes, they are very unintentional and that sometimes, people want to make up for them.
If I had to be really honest, I am one such person. I have not always been on my best behaviour; I have done things I’m not proud of. I have at times lost my temper (when there really wasn’t a need to), forgotten kindness and maybe along with it my manners (I’m sure my husband can tell you many stories). I’ve had days in where I’ve treated someone badly unintentionally, disappointed someone and been thoughtless — and this is all just with the people I love. I’m not proud to admit that either, but it’s the truth, and because of it, I have also been the person needing a second chance. Eeek, sometimes even a fourth (I’m sure God can tell you many stories). So, maybe it’s selfish thinking, because I know I’ve been there too, but you have to admit — in this regard there is a case to be made for the second chance. As it is, I get second chances all that time that I know I don’t deserve to, because God gives them to me. And in seeking to be more Christ like, this is definitely one of the behaviours I should model too, the only problem is, it’s so hard. Right now I’m at a place where I need to make that decision, and if I’m being honest this person is tittering on third chance territory, but I keep playing “no. not seven times, but seventy times seven” back in my head, and thinking WWJD. This is not so much about forgiving the person though, because that I have, in fact, the offence isn’t that deep; it’s really a thing about principal and priority, but anyway.. because of that I’m going back and forth about whether I should allow the person space in my life. And this is where my question initially came from, where do we stand with the idea of second chances? Because sometimes in making the decision it’s about what we want to do vs what we should do, and here is where I’m stuck because I know what I would have done in the past.
So I’m back to asking the question: what would you do? I asked one of my friends this and she said: I don’t think we should confine ourselves and our experiences to first chances only, there is beauty in a second chances because they bring new possibility and sometimes new perspectives, things you’d have never known or experienced if it weren’t for the second chance. And this is honestly how I want to start looking at second chances as an overall idea, of course, everything depends on the situation. But instead of just seeing it as a weakness, something to protect myself against, I want to go from a position of unwillingness to willingness, and open my mind up to possibility; possibilities of building even stronger relationships, possibilities of maturing in thought and experience and start to think of the good things that can come in the form of second chances.
Don’t get it twisted though, I will still not allow myself to be taken for a ride, and I will still not let true offences — the offences you can’t come back from — slide, because some things just cross certain lines that can’t be uncrossed, and those cannot be debated. I will still also have certain standards of how I should be treated in any relationship and no idea of a second chance will take these things away, but all I say now, and admittedly with a bit of reservation is that I feel like there could be more to second chances than it having to mean giving up on these things, because truth is it doesn’t. You can still have these things; self-respect, self-worth, standards, and still give a second chance. I think.
Let’s just see how that goes…