I don’t just believe in second chances. I believe in more chances. It seems ridiculous to believe in someone after a second, third, or fourth screw-up, and it’s certainly risky; but who knows whether the next chance is the one that will make a difference? It’s frustrating and it can be painful for those watching. But the possibility held in one more chance is worth the risk.
Stupid mistakes caused me to total my first car. Too lazy to scrape ice off my windshield, I tried to cross a four-lane street while talking on my cell phone and straining to see through the ice. I didn’t see the other car, and I only barely felt the impact. Then my car was spinning, the ice-covered windows a gray blur as my fingers gripped the steering wheel for dear life. When everything jerked to a stop, I sat frozen. What have I done to my car?
Weeks later, as I pieced it all together, I realized that the accident could have been much worse. It wouldn’t have taken much, just another second either way, and I could have died. God preserved my life and gave me my first second chance that night.
My dad gave me another second chance a couple weeks later when he bought me another used car – black, shiny, and beautiful. I knew I didn’t deserve it after what I’d done, but it was my second chance to prove I could be responsible.
I blew that chance after only a few days. Creeping below an overpass amid morning rush-hour traffic, I bent to change CD’s without noticing the quickly-approaching rear bumper of the SUV in front of me. I looked up, panicked, and slammed my brake, but not soon enough to avoid the sickening crunch. Not again!
For the second time in three weeks, my car rode away on a wrecker.
Without looking at me, my dad admitted, “Rachel, it’s hard for me not to be angry with you.” Of course – I’d broken his trust again. The awful shame of that moment was all I needed to decide I was absolutely going to fix my driving. I knew I could, but I didn’t say so. Why should he believe me?
I’ve had no accidents for almost two years. Even now I don’t know if my dad really trusts me behind the wheel, but he had my car fixed and handed me a third chance less than a month later.
For me it took more than just a second chance. Every life is different, and one more opportunity to get it right may be just what someone needs to turn his or her life around. I believe in more chances.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.