I believe in second chances. I believe in forgiveness. We all make mistakes, stumble and fall from time to time. A healthy person picks himself up, dusts himself off, learns from his mistakes and tries again. The rest of us have a harder time. Minor mistakes are easily overlooked or forgiven. When the scope of an error generates pity, disgust, anger and destruction in those around us do we still deserve a second, third or fourth chance? I believe we do.
I am referring to the kind of mistake an alcoholic makes time and again in taking that first drink. A young man I know who was getting poor grades because of a DUI was introduced to a twelve-step recovery program. However, due to his young age, not enough of a pattern had developed for him to accept he could not control his drinking. The youngster plodded along, promised to do better in school and not to drink before driving. Later, he became a real alcoholic. His best intentions were to do right even though his disease corrupted them. The man became convinced after a period of reasonable success that he didn’t have a problem at all. Successes in life provided the proof he needed as permission to drink. Eventually, his quality of life deteriorated to include a failed marriage, loneliness, more DUI’s and court appearances, which all led to homelessness. Not long ago he wandered the streets mumbling, living from hand to mouth, and sleeping in shelters, behind dumpsters and on the stoop of an old church.
Did he deserve a second chance? Yes, he did. Give him a ride when he asks for one. Offer him food when he is hungry and help him procure clothing. Encourage him to get the help he clearly needs. These are all aspects of the second chance, especially the request.
Second chances must be asked for. Every person in this position must gradually forgive himself. Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door to second chances. Mental, emotional and spiritual healing are crucial steps made on the journey of second chances. More mistakes will be made along any new path. It is humble forgiveness that enables a person to learn and grow from them. Forgiveness builds love, compassion, and empathy for others. Jesus said forgive seventy-seven times (Matt 18; 21-22)
I personally know the man that had given up on himself, who was sleeping behind a dumpster and trying to drink himself to death. Today he is going to college at the age of 56 with a brand new dream in his heart. A dream made possible by a second chance. His dream is to provide second chances to others like him, for it is in giving back that second chances pay forward the forgiveness that was afforded him.
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