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The Importance of Second Chances and Forgiveness

June 29th, 2012 | 4 comments

bigstock--155353877Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

~Mark Twain~

When I was younger, I felt that I was very good at reading people and situations.  I trusted my first impressions.  And they stuck; meaning if you didn’t make a good first impression with me, it was hard for you to get a second chance….and that was that. But I missed the boat on this one;  first impressions don’t always give the complete picture, so if you meet someone who leaves you less than impressed, consider giving them a second chance. You might be pleasantly surprised.

We all know from personal experience how painful it can feel to be misunderstood or judged. Yet, it seems we all pay it forward.

And if you hurt me? I did not forgive easily. I held on to things, for a very, very long time.

I’m not proud to admit that.  But it’s the truth.  I can say it because, years later I realize just how closed my mind was to possibility.  How I limited myself by never giving life or the people in it a second chance. I really missed out on getting to know some really great people because of my unwillingness to give second chances or extend forgiveness for people being human.

The funny thing about that is….I always had an expectation that someone would extend a second chance to me.  I always thought I was deserving…..after all, I’m only human right?

I’ve been thinking about that lately.  I was reflecting on some things from the past and suddenly realized I had completely forgiven someone who had hurt me.  It’s funny, as people talk about this intentional living, but I was kind of surprised by the fact that all that darkness no longer existed in my heart.  In fact, I felt peace and compassion for that person, and also recognized my own position in how those circumstances came to pass in the first place.

It has freed me.  So, I wanted to share…maybe there is someone out there in the universe that will read my words and realize they are ready to let something go that has weighed down their lives for far too long.

Consider this if you need to forgive:

  • A second chance extended to another person is also a second chance for you.  Don’t limit your potential by closing your mind to the possibility of change. Your decision that someone is not worthy of forgiveness is in fact a statement saying you are not worthy of peace.
  • I heard once that every person we meet is in some way God in disguise.  If this is the case, what was the lesson this person was designed to teach you?  Did you learn it?  Have you grown as a person because of it?
  • What are the benefits to your life by holding back forgiveness?  Are you happier?  More peaceful?  Focused on the present moment?
  • Do you understand that forgiveness does not mean condoning anything?  It doesn’t change the wrong, you are simply making a choice to stop carrying it with you. It doesn’t mean that you are extending an opportunity for this person to hurt you again.  Forgiveness is about your personal decision to make your life better.
  • Extending your forgiveness will not be able to fix everything.  Maybe the person who hurt you will remain angry and hurtful.  This is not about changing that.  Release the burden from yourself and let them go.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. 

~Gandhi~                 

If you hope someone will forgive you:

  • You can’t push it.
  • You can’t make it happen.
  • You can’t demand it, beg for it, buy it, or expect it. You can try, but receiving forgiveness on your terms in not authentic.
  • You simply have to live your life as a person who is worthy of it.  Be the person who deserves forgiveness.  Learn from your mistakes, and live each day a little better than the last.
  • You can hope for it, you can pray each day for it.  But it may never come.  And that’s not about you or the work you’ve done to grow as a human being since you made the mistake.  That’s about the other person’s readiness and ability to deal with the hurt.
  • Part of hoping for forgiveness is extending it to yourself.  You will never be able to become a better version of yourself as long as you are replaying the mistakes of the past.  That is not to say you should not be accountable.  But at some point, it ‘s time to allow yourself to live the life you’ve been given.  This quote has always resonated with me:

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. 

~Siddhārtha Gautama~

At points in my life, I’ve been on both sides of the forgiveness coin; working on extending forgiveness, and hoping someone would forgive me for my mistakes.  And what I know for sure is this.  The time I spent away from love was time wasted.

When Stephen died, and my life was stripped bare, I had clarity.  And there was not one transgression that was worthy of my time.  I realized that this fragile, “go this way once” life was far too precious to spend all my time looking over my shoulder, to only find regrets or some weak justification for negative emotions. I feel like I’ve been given this job to do.  To tell people it is all about the love. To let people know they will be okay.

That scares me, as some days, I feel like someone is going to pop out and say, “Hey lady, I remember you.  You weren’t always love and sunshine….sometimes, you were a real b*t%h with a capital B.

And the truth is, they would be right.  Each morning, as part of my gratitude, I give thanks for the clarity that Stephen’s life gave me on how I should live out the rest of my days.

But, it was a hard way to learn the lesson.

Now, I know that some will read this and be quick to say, “Sure Kelly, but there are some things in life that are simply unforgivable. You don’t understand.”

My response is : Is that really true? Or is that the limitation you have set on your situation and how far you are willing to go? Look around for examples of people who have extended forgiveness in the most unforgivable of circumstances?  What allowed them to take the step?

Extend the same tolerance to others as you would want from them.  We’ve all screwed up at one point or another.  I know I have on many, many occasions; “cringe-worthy” moments that I am not proud of, and mistakes that I still pray on each night.

My life changed when I decided to extend the same patience and forgiveness to others as I had hoped people would give to me.  My life changed when Stephen taught me that there is no grievance more important than living a life filled with love.  It changed me and I believe it can change you….

Wishing you the peace in your life that only forgiveness can bring,

Kelly

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4 people have commented
  1. This is one of the best explanations on forgiveness I’ve ever heard. You pulled together all the points I’ve heard before and personalized them in a way that made forgiveness the blessing it is intended to be. Thank you.

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