“I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life. I’ve learned that sometimes life gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back.” — Maya Angelou
I believe that when life presents you with the same scenario twice, it is giving you a chance to do things differently, and perhaps to do things right, this time around. A second chance is like a miracle in disguise. An answered prayer that God hands to you so that you can improve your life, or change it around.
Having lived over five decades now, a hop and a skip away from the sixth decade in fact, I can say that everything in my life has been better the second time around. Second chances are gifts from above, that teach you patience, wisdom, forgiveness, humility and courage. It’s hard not to be kind, and more forgiving when you have been given so much grace. And because these second chances have been given to us, we must pay it forward and give it to others as well.
Psychologist, professor and lead investigator of the Rochester Adult Longitudinal Study, Dr. Susan Krausse Whitbourne, writes about four reasons why we must forgive and offer second chances.
First, Krausse says that you feel happier when you forgive someone else. In 2016, 42,000 participants from 30 countries were asked about the value of forgiveness in their own lives. “The cross-national study supported what research on individuals has shown, and suggests that being magnanimous pays off in terms of your own emotional benefits.”
The second reason is that people can change. Although, on some rare occasions, they do not. Krausse says that people can learn from their mistakes — and when you give them a second chance, you allow them to demonstrate this.
Third, for people who show that they want to change, genuinely that is. It’s practical and saves emotional energy.
Lastly, Krausse says we also want people to treat us the same way. “Turn the tables and imagine that it’s you who needs the second chance. Wouldn’t you feel better if you were given an opportunity to try again? Whether it’s the car you’ve been hired to fix or the relationship that took a turn for the worse due to your own mistakes, it’s nice to know that someone is willing to give you a chance to redeem yourself.”
The second chance we give ourselves, induces us to listen to an inner voice that tells us what to do. The second chances we take cause us to move away from cultural conditioning and towards our real selves.
Second chances are born out of hardship. The emotional payoffs can be enormous but they’re not for the fainthearted. You have to cross a bridge of anxiety, ride out moments of self-doubt, and be willing to be unreasonable.
Second chances are non-negotiable leaps of faith.
For 14 years, I wrote a weekly column for another newspaper. I will always be grateful for that season. The column became a casualty of the pandemic. Almost two years to the month when my previous column was axed, this paper offered me a new home.
In many ways now, I’m living my second chance. I want you to reassure you no matter where you are in life, you can take hold of yours too. I look forward to sharing stories about second acts, and second chances here every Saturday. Together, in this space, let’s make it happen.
I would love to hear from you. Write me at [email protected]
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