We’ve all had moments in life when we were granted first and second chances even though we probably didn’t deserve it. Remember how that first big break felt – that first chance to show the world what you were made of? Perhaps it took years to break through and secure it. If you are like me though that first chance to prove yourself happened fairly early in life, sometime in your 20s.
There is no logical reason why anyone would give a person in their 20s a chance. Generally speaking, 20-somethings have no money, no experience, and no patience. They are idealistic to a fault, thinking they alone hold the key to changing the world. They disdain the older generation(s), thinking they are pessimistic, set in their ways and out of touch with contemporary culture.
Of course I’m exaggerating with this characterization. Many 20-somethings are not like this. I sure was though even though it may not have appeared so to those around me.
Yet someone still gave me a first chance.
With that first chance came three things I desperately needed. If you guessed money, experience and the immediate need to develop patience you’d be right. Thank goodness I was able to get those three things sooner rather than later.
I messed up a lot in those early years as I grew into my profession. With no experience how could one not mess up when new situations arose. There were times I wondered if I’d ever get it right.
I’m thankful that during the early days of my first chance people were patient with me as I stumbled time and time again. No one ever said, “You’re just not going to make it kid…get out.” Sure, people knew I was raw but they didn’t want to see me fail.
So they extended grace to me when I didn’t know what I was doing.
They supported me in public even when I had done something wrong.
They stepped in to provide counsel and direction through the difficult choices.
And they provided more care and encouragement than I could have imagined.
So why am I thankful for first chances? Because I got one. It provided for me in ways that go well beyond the financial.
Thankful for Second Chances
Speaking of messing up…
Have you ever needed (or wanted) a second chance – that opportunity to prove yourself again, or strive for something new or to make amends?
Of course you have…because we’ve all failed.
The Bible says so rightly that “all have sinned.” That means we are not perfect. We’ve all stumbled at some point and are in need of a second chance.
In many ways second chances are harder for people than first chances. With a first chance you usually start with a clean slate on which to build. You get the benefit of the doubt from the person granting the chance that you can make something of yourself.
Not so much the second time around. People looking for second chances usually face something first-chancers don’t. It’s called baggage and it may take forms like this:
Regret about past decisions
Guilt over who was hurt
Memories of pain that won’t go away
Fear of another failure
Hesitancy to make decisions
Apprehension about what others are thinking or saying
An endless parade of emotions that scream, “You’ll never make it again…it’s not worth it…go home.”
That’s a lot to deal with. And the more chances needed the more those grow and become more challenging to overcome.
Yet people still give us second chances. Why is that? You’d think after seeing a failure and the fallout that comes with that they’d say, “That’s it, I’m through with you. Move on.”
I think people give second chances for one main reason: they’ve failed too and someone gave them a second chance.
So why am I thankful for second chances? Because I’m going to mess up and need one.
More and More Chances
In reality, we all need and are usually granted many chances beyond just a second. I’m thankful for that too. I’m getting a second shot at a career, although not because I failed or messed up at the first one. My second chance came through a personal decision to change the course of my life.
I do need multiple chances in other areas though because of mess ups. I’m sure my words will offend my wife or kids multiple times before the year is out. Thank goodness they’ll give me another chance with each ridiculous remark I make.
One day the disciple Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus reply was, “…I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
Jesus wasn’t putting a limit (490) on the amount of times you can forgive. He was proposing that forgiveness should be endless. That’s tons of leeway for the opportunity at more chances.
There is never an end to forgiveness. But there may be an end to the chances you might be given. Some behaviors are dangerous and intolerable. So guard your chances carefully. Consider each one another precious gift to get it right.
This Thanksgiving be appreciative for the first and second chances you’ve been given. Make the most of them whether it’s the first, second or hundredth. Thank the people in your life who have given them to you despite your inexperience or the mistakes you’ve made.
And if you are the one granting the first, second or the hundredth chance do so with generosity, remembering how many chances you’ve been given. Step into someone’s life with love, encouragement and guidance and help the succeed. I’m sure they’ll thank you for it.
Questions: Do you remember your first big chance? What was it like…how did it go? Have you ever had difficulty moving on from mistake or failure as you sought some second chances? Who has helped you succeed and become more than what you thought possible? What are you most thankful for in regards to the chances you’ve been given?