Sometimes people mess up. As imperfect beings charged with the power to manipulate, lie, cheat and steal and the emotional sophistication to feel jealousy, heartbreak and outrage, this is to be expected. That being the case, we sometimes find it in our hearts to empathize with the offender and forgive or love them and forget. We award plenty of second chances, and some of us are filled with so much empathy or love that we even give third and fourth chances. Still other times we are not so gracious and the offender must lie in the bed made by a less-than-wise decision. Therein lies the delicacy of the art. The complexity is in its simplicity because we make decisions all the time. It’s how strongly we are attached to them that can get interesting.
In our personal lives, I am sure that the majority of these decisions are based upon feelings – the raw and blinding emotions of love, lust and fear to name a few. However, second chances are not limited to family, friends and lovers and in fact often flood our more objective world. Maybe you are a boss whose employee has failed to meet your expectations or maybe just a guy who got bad service at the bank or the market. You will, consciously or not, evaluate the offender’s worthiness of a second chance. Inherent in our nature is the tendency to make a snap decision based soley upon a first impression. The danger here is that often times we mentally condemn the offender, deem the situation disadvantageous, and are slow to award a second chance.
In my experience I have come to realize that all learning involves a series of steps. With all new learning there needs to be incentive, motivation and a desire to not give up even in the face of discouragement. The process in my findings has been defined by three distinct stages:
I have to first become aware that change is needed. Having awareness does not necessarily mean that I am willing or able to address what needs to change. Awareness slowly grabs my attention until I find myself unavoidably faced with reality.
The next stage in the process of learning is acceptance. As I move into the acceptance stage of change of learning, I begin to grasp what my awareness wants to teach me. When I enter the acceptance stage, incentive motivates my desire to look for logical and legitimate solutions. Through embracing my need for change, I am launched forward by my awareness and acceptance.
The final stage in the art of change involves action. Without action everything remains the same. When I am sick and tired of being sick and tired, I have passed through the awareness and acceptance phase of change. I become willing to look for solutions because I am tired of doing the same thing and getting the same result.
As we stay committed to practicing the art of change our circumstances become tutors in the school of life. Learning becomes the vehicle that empowers the process. The process points us in the direction of our destiny. Being, then becomes more important than merely doing as we seek to live life on God’s terms, because we know that more will be revealed in due time through Him than through our own weaknesses.
“Living a second chance is like learning to walk again after an injury.” – Anonymous
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – Matthew 18: 21-22