When I hear someone say, “God gave me a second chance”, I often think the person has failed in some capacity and God is giving them another chance to get it right. But, my view of what constitutes a “second chance” is changing. It may not be about “getting it right” or a “do-over”; in fact, it may be about doing something totally different. Our second chances are another chance to actually pay attention and do what He wants us to do.
I tried to find the origin of the statement “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”, but couldn’t find a definitive answer. Although I agree with the statement, it doesn’t mean you can’t get another chance to make a better impression.
As I started to think of my own second chance events I found “motivational” quotes about second chances. Some of them were kind of humorous. For example, when thinking about romantic relationships Mae West said, “All discarded lovers should be given a second chance, but with somebody else”.
It may be funny, but it’s also how we often think about people who have hurt us, but what about when we’re the one doing the hurting? If we’re the one hurt, we are done with the person and not willing to give them another chance. If we’re the one doing the hurting, then we’re often desperate for the other person to give us a second chance. Sound familiar?
We all screw up from time to time and just because someone has “burned” you one time could also mean they learn from their mistakes and change the way they treat you next time. Why are we so quick to ASK for another chance, yet not willing to GIVE others another chance?
I know from my failed marriage, I learned so much of what not to do and what to do differently. Granted, I couldn’t see all of those things until I was out of it looking back in, but I did look. As ugly as that situation ended up being, I HAD to look at it if I was every going to love again. I was bitter, angry, and heartbroken, but when I finally decided it was time to move on, I took a hard look at MY role in all of it. I couldn’t change what anyone else in the story did, but I could certainly change MY actions going forward.
Not to say that my marriage now is perfect, far from it, but I’m very cognizant of where I failed before. In God’s grace, He is giving me another chance to love and be happy.
Life Lesson Learned: You can destroy a relationship. You can learn from what YOU contributed to the demise. You can rebuild old relationships and build new ones, but do it differently.
As a teacher, I see students struggling to keep up with the demands of college life. They’re juggling class work, personal identity, social expectations, and often parental hopes and dreams. They are SO stressed; it makes me stressed! They also think if they fail a class, their life is over. Well, guess what kiddos? Your life is not over. Your college career may be lengthened by a semester or two, but life is not over.
My daughter is seeing this first-hand during her first year in college. She failed a class her first semester and not in a class you would think would be considered a “hard” class. It wasn’t the content of the class; it was more about the way the teacher taught and some of the expectations of college she was not ready to handle.
Time seemed to be her biggest culprit. And not time she spent enjoying college, but the change in how she managed her time. Not until she came to college and struggled with managing her time did I realize how our lives are SO structured from the time we start school (around the age of 5) until we finish (around the age of 18). That is a huge chunk of our lives scheduled almost from the time we get up in the morning until we go to bed at night! Then we’re thrown into college or a job and expected to immediately adapt to a very different schedule.
The same thing happened to me during my first year away from home in a new city and new college. Granted my class was statistics (Ugh!), but still, I failed. I had never failed a class in my life! And, by the way, neither had my daughter. Because I had gone through what I did 20+ years ago, I could assure her that her life was not over, although she thought it was.
She is able to take a different teacher for her failed class and is doing well this semester. I didn’t have that luxury. I went to a small liberal arts school, so guess who taught statistics? Yep, the only teacher of stats was the one I had failed the first time. Everyone told me to wait to take the class again, but I decided to tackle it right away. I took Dr. Bozmia the very next semester, but I sat on the front row and went to his office for help, things I had not done the first time around. I came out with a “B” the next semester.
Life Lesson Learned: You can fail at something. Learn from what went wrong. Take a deep breath and do it again, but do it differently.
Jobs and Life Goals
I also thought about career choices and goals we set for ourselves only to have them never happen or lose them through our own blunders or sometimes by no fault of our own. When things seem SO out of OUR control, we become desperate and sometimes lose sight of what we hoped we were working for in the first place.
I know when I’ve tried to MAKE things happen (i.e. get a job I really wanted, lose weight, etc.) and then they don’t come to fruition, I’m extremely disappointed and think I’ll never have another job or I’ll be overweight forever. It’s an all or nothing feeling, yet, there is always another job and there’s always another way to lose weight.
As I was writing this post, I took a break to go for a walk/run. As I was huffing and puffing just trying to make two miles, I realized only two and a half years ago I was doing over three miles every day, with very little effort. I had lost 20 pounds and I was feeling great, but now, once again, I’m struggling to walk two miles. And, I’ve gained….well, let’s just say, I’ve gained some weight….again! Ugh!
Life Lesson Learned: Opportunities come and go. Some opportunities will go our way, some will not. Learn from them, move on, and then do something about it (sometimes this means doing something totally different).
The God of Another Chance
Please don’t take my little Life Lessons Learned as trivial. I honestly do not mean them that way. Many times, our failures are much more serious than the few I’ve shared with you here, but I do know that when we are stuck in the “What if?” phases of life we will never move forward. We can try to correct our failures on our own or we can look to the one and only God who will encourage us to move forward.
We are celebrating Jesus’ death and resurrection this weekend. We are mourning and rejoicing THE most important event in human history. God sent his flesh and blood Son to live like we live, to feel all of the highs and lows we feel, and to pay for ALL of our failures ONE LAST TIME.
Jesus came and died so we all could have another chance, and another, and another. He will give us as many chances as we need. His love is steadfast and He will never leave us, nor forsake us….that is His Promise.
That is not to say that He won’t let us continue to screw up and keep asking for forgiveness or another chance. BUT, if we continue to try and do it on our own, He will let us. There comes a point where He will say, “Okay, let’s see how you do on your own.” In Romans, Paul describes how people continued to live as THEY wanted to and not the way God intended for them to live and He finally “turned them over” (Romans 1:18-32)
If we truly seek Him for repentance and guidance, He WILL make our ways straight. His path may not be even close to what we thought about as the perfect plan. He may have an entirely different route and destination for us. One we could never imagine without Him!
So, it’s not just about asking for a second chance so that we get to do the same things again, hoping to get it right the second time around; it’s about sometimes getting to do something totally different and it working out according to His Perfect Plan.
We also have an obligation to others in offering second chances. If we refuse to forgive others (i.e. another chance), then He will not forgive us.
…but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. ~Mark 6:15~
So, as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ this year, I pray we truly understand what that means. It really is about another chance.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. ~John 3:17~
His sacrifice ended condemnation from God and opened the door to another chance (and another, and another.....) to live our lives according to His will. He may let us try it on our own for a while, but when we’re ready for Him to take control He will be there waiting because He never left.
It also allows us to live out His promises here on earth: Forgiveness and
Second Other Chance s.
Praying you all have a Blessed Easter and a life full of other chances!
In His Grace,
***Check out the BONUS Easter Egg Coloring Sheet below! Enjoy!*** PDF Version here