Forgiveness and Second Chances

Years ago, I would get messages from readers. Some would thank me for sharing my thoughts, others challenged my ideas, and occasionally I would be pleasantly surprised with an inquiry. I loved those because they would require me to think, to gather my thoughts and to put them together in a way that would make sense outside of my head. 

This is my 25-year-old self on forgiveness and second chances. At that time, one of my best friends had been resenting me for what went down at her wedding that I had thought she'd forgiven me for. Turns out she didn't even realize it herself until she read this post. (We're good now.) Four years later, I still feel the same about forgiveness and second chances. 

Hey Ranny, I was reading your post about being interviewed about your experience with dating. Wondering what are your thoughts about forgiveness/second chances. 

ME: So, forgiveness and second chances? That sounds so broad, but I could already assume what you're referring to. But instead of assuming that it's about a boy, I'm going to give you my thoughts, my truth on forgiveness and second chances, in the most general way possible. Ultimately, I think truthful insight can be applied to any situation or circumstance we find ourselves in.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of forgiveness is something Oprah Winfrey said as she was quoting another person (I believe Maya Angelou), "Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that it could have been different." I know, it's so much easier said than done, but it's true. We often hold grudges and resentment (which is like killing yourself to hurt the other person only to find yourself committing suicide silently) because things "should have" been a different way, our way. The truth is that you cannot change the past. You just can’t. However, you can choose to change the way you see the past, learn from it or just get over it. I found that if I take 100% responsibility for my role or part in what happened, there is no one outside of myself to blame. Therefore, forgiveness follows naturally. You cannot force forgiveness. Forgiveness comes after you've healed (which may take a long time), accepted responsibility (which may require you to shift your thinking) and made the personal choice to let go. Forgiveness is about letting go. Letting go of that little voice holding on to the suppose to's and should have's. Consider that you may be holding onto whatever it is because you get something out of it, some kind of payoff. I'd actually have to know the situation to tell you what it could be, but I think you can try to figure it out for yourself. Does it make you feel right and him/her wrong? Is it a way to protect your heart? What are you getting out from holding on?

As for second chances, everyone deserves a second chance, but we often give second chances with conditions. We also bring the old baggage into the second chance. We condemn them, while they're always trying to prove something to us. The moment they do something (even so little), it becomes evidence to validate our insecurity. We automatically bring out the suitcase and start unpacking the baggage, and the drama moves back in--into your relationship, your home and even into your bed. So, we're not really giving the other person an honest chance. Now that I think about it, I don't know how I feel about "second" chances. Are second chances ever honest?

If you really want to make something work, you have to do the work. You might want to go to counseling, read books or do some personal soul searching before jumping back into something that didn't work in the first place. I'm telling you, the more you learn to love yourself on so many levels, the more you'll be forgiving. Why? Because you wouldn't want to continue killing yourself slowly. And if you have a better idea of who you are and what you want, you'll be able to know if you should invest more time in this person or let them go. If it's something you both want, consider couple's counseling. Either way, be thoughtful of them also (even if they ef'ed up). Don't set them up for failure. Being condemned is a horrible feeling. If it were the other way around, you'd want to be treated fairly with respect too.

With all that's been said, I hope this helps you in one way or another. I am honored that you would seek my advice. Whatever you choose, make sure you stay true to who you are and ALWAYS, always come from a place of love. If you come from a place of love, it'll always be okay. It might not look like it now, but it'll be okay. And if it ain't okay, then it's not the end. Good luck!