One of my favorite things about my former job was the opportunity to offer second chances instead of do-overs. In my mind, these aren’t the same.  A do-over implies backing up and starting over, having no more knowledge, no more experience, no more lessons, yet expecting that we would have made better choices if we could do it all again.  That’s not possible.  If I didn’t know or listen then, why would I know or listen then if given the chance to go back and repeat it?   How would I be a different person and how could a do-over without something new to influence my thinking make a difference in where I was today?  Think of the movie, Family Man.  Nicholas Cage’s character would not have desperately chased after Te’a Leoni’s without that very real glimpse of what could be and should be and would be with just a few different choices, but how many of us have those types of dreams that wake us with so vivid a dose of reality before the deeds are done that got us to where we are?  That didn’t even happen in the movie, let alone our own lives.  Do-overs just aren’t possible, but second chances are.

With second chances there’s the fear we’ve accumulated from our failures, struggles, losses, hurts, and beatings in life that often keep our second chances at bay.   It’s the “I don’t want to get hurt again”, “I can’t do this again”, “I’ve tried before, but…”, and “I could never…” that hinders our dance with second chances.  But what if we face what has hurt us and held us back head-on, and identify the lessons from them to create not only a new perspective, but learning tool to help us make better decisions the second time around?  What if we let that knowledge and experience and the insights gained help us to travel a new path rather than keeping us off of one entirely? 

As I approach this part of my life, I’m looking back so I can look forward.  Some of my thoughts:

  1. I wish I had finished college; my second chance is doing so now.  I’ve discovered I love learning, crave learning, and though I fuss and moan at the assignments like all college students, I secretly enjoy pushing and challenging myself to excel.  Unless it’s Math.  Thank God for daughters who know and love quadratics, radicals, polynomials, and Pythagorean distance formulas, and have great sympathy for their mothers who don’t. 
  2. I wish I could do-over saying No.  As in, “No, it’s not okay”, and “No, that hurts”, and “No, that isn’t right”, and “No, that’s not love”, and “No, I won’t.”   Amazing how a two letter word impacts your heart, your thoughts, your identity, your faith, your family, your career, your finances, your circumstances, your future, and your relationships.  There’s no returning back, but there is going forward and this woman is going forward with a new word…No.  
  3.  I wish I could do-over courage, having it younger and using it to step out in faith and determination to learn, to serve, to speak up, and to act.  My sister was the courage-keeper, it seems, and it was only through losing her that I gained some, maybe a pinky-finger full.  As time and events progressed, as I looked up instead and of out, the courage blossomed.  It still isn’t fully bloomed, but my second chance is to nurture it, to let faith see me through everything, big and small and life changing.  And to help me, to hold me up and minister to me, to redirect me, point out things I never even thought about, he’s given me gifts in the form of people who love the Lord above all else and are open, honest, transparent, giving, and forgiving.  None of us possess courage alone; our strength comes from the Lord.  Wonderful to have people who help lift our eyes from the fire around us to the One who brings the rains to drench it.
  4. I wish I had understood the difference between religion and relationship when I was younger, embraced a loving God instead of playing with one based on doctrines, old wives’ tales, superstitions, out of context interpretations, shame and guilt and so many rules that it seemed as if no one could ever be good enough or even certain about it.  My second chance is letting the relationship I have with the Lord be evident in my life so that others might see it isn’t all that other stuff; Jesus is amazing yet too often packaged and sold with benefits only for the golden key card members who never pass up the opportunity to make everyone else feel inferior, or the feel-gooders who continue to spout the 60’s “if it feels good, do it” and “there is no right or wrong, just what feels right for you” mantra only now it’s laced with snippets of and out of context Scripture that twists the message of the Gospel to be whatever they want it to be to fit whatever agenda they are promoting.  So very thankful for the straight shooting Calvary Community Church in Phoenix.  Bonus, I get the messages online! 

Taking a chance again could mean a chance to fail and fall.  It could mean more pain.  It could mean more yuck.  But I’ll take it because not to do so throws me in the jail of the past.  I can see through the bars but I’m still stuck there.  Taking a second chance is like trying the keys on the key ring…one of them will fit and I’m out, better for the consequences of lessons learned to move forward with new confidence.  

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