Second chances.  “Who would you give a second chance?”  It’s the subject of the NEVER BEYOND poster series over at the People of the Second Chance website.  I’ve watched the posters the last three weeks – images of Casey Anthony, Mike Tyson, Darth Vader, and I just can’t garner enough emotion to write a compelling story on any of these.  While their visages engender visceral emotions in many people and certainly spark vibrant discussion, I guess I just didn’t get emotionally invested in them to begin with so there’s no real need for me to give them a second chance.

I’ve been infinitely more moved by the bloggers who have suggested that it is their own image which should be portrayed on the poster.  The idea, essentially, that we have all done wrong…we are all “Audacious Sinners in need of Audacious Grace“.  In reality, none of us deserve a second chance and yet, because of our radical God, we are offered second chances.  Every time we need one.  Sometimes when we, ourselves, don’t even recognize the need.

So what does this have to do with me?  Why am I writing about it now?  Because I’m on a journey.  Or I’m writing a play.  Or I’m conducting a tour.  The analogies differ depending on the day and my mood – choose whichever allows you to connect with my story.

I’m writing my life.  My life of second chances.  I just didn’t realize what that meant until recently.  (Okay, to be honest, I still don’t have a full realization, but I think I’m getting closer.)

See…I thought that this project – writing out my story – was about me.  About giving me a second chance to live fully.  I thought that if I could just catalog all the “stuff” done to me by other people, I would be able to move on, get past it, get over it – choose your euphemism.  I have a very good counselor and she tried to tell me that I would have to go back and “feel” all that stuff that I didn’t or wasn’t allowed to feel before.  She told me it would be painful but pain passes – misery lasts forever.  So – I started.  I started thinking.  I started writing.  I started reading.  And the pain came.  But I still thought it was about me.  About giving me my second chance.

Actually, I think now that it’s less about me and more about healing.  That healing doesn’t all come from inside me; I have to include the people who “touched” my life or I can only close the wounds, they never heal.

I read a GREAT post by Carlos Whitaker – Cruelty, Man Cards and Second Chances, which exposes another dimension of the second chance.  It opened my eyes to the fact that, while I’ve been busy trying to GET a second chance, I’ve completely ignored the other side.  In order to live the idea of radical grace, I must also GIVE second chances.

Can I DO that?  Can I really put into practice this ideal of radical grace?

Wow.  Now that’s something to think about, isn’t it?  Here I am going out into the world purporting to be a christian – sometimes even in the capacity of ministry work – and I don’t know if I can give the people who have hurt and humiliated me a second chance.  On top of that, I preach a mean tolerance lecture.  Refusal to forgive wrongs.  Sound like tolerance to you?  I’m thinking that God is laughing somewhere at the dichotomy in my life, in my heart, in my soul.

Isn’t it amazing that I’m going to get ANOTHER second chance?

I’m not saying that I will be able to rush right out tomorrow and hug all the people who hurt me.  There is memory even through forgiveness.  It will take time.  Some of them won’t care; others won’t hear me.  Don’t we sometimes do that to God?  As I write more of my story, it will be obvious that sometimes I didn’t hear God – and sometimes I didn’t care.  But He always cared and He always listens.

One of my favorite “camp” songs has the line “I will hold the Christ-light for you, in the nighttime of your fear…” What a pitiful job I have done of actually holding out the Christ-light.  I could make some emphatic statement like “that will end TODAY!”  but that’s not true and everyone would see right through me.

But I will give myself a second chance.  I will let God in to help me.

I was right.  It is about me.  But it’s also about you.  It’s about God.  It’s about living life with joy and freedom.  The joy which comes from living out your own second chance and the freedom that comes from allowing others theirs.

Audacious, Radical Grace is given by our Audacious, Radical God and leads unfailingly to Audacious, Radical Joy.  Inside the joy is where we will find our second chance to live fully.

Meet me there?