never beyond: forgiving vs. forgetting

who would you give a second chance? i'm not talking about let's try this thing out again and please don't forget you're on probation type of second chance...i mean grace-filled, slate-wiped-clean, never remember - never bring up type of starting over.

think you could do it?

when i think of this question, there are a few people who come to mind: the boy who called me names in middle school, the girls who laughed at my discomfort, the hands that touched me when they weren't supposed to, the ones who struggle to believe my hurt.

but honestly, if i search deep enough, i find the strength to turn away. if i allow myself the time and the process to heal, i know who i was then is different than who i am now. i know my choices are bound by One who loves me and protects me - and who has been there all along. even in the name calling. even in the deepest pain.

but i do waver.

i've been working on my step four in recovery for about four months and there's been this anger creeping up at unexpected moments - call it righteous indignation or frustration, it's still sin when i lash out at my husband or when i harbor the feeling inside and let it fester.

the one thing i've realized is that my inability to write out resentments stems from my inability to forgive. 

there's the feelings aspect - sure. it's far too easy to go around life numb and unaware. carving out time specifically for those who have done you wrong is counter-intuitive. especially if you don't want to revisit the memories. and i can turn away. i can forget and i can understand times have changed and i'm not an awkward middle schooler anymore or stuck in a situation that breeds hurtful habits and pain. but forgetting and forgiving are two different things. i've done the forgetting. i've seen the damage years of suppression can do - and it's obvious the only true resolution is forgiveness. restoration. healing.

but you know who i struggle with giving second chances {and third and fourth and fiftieth...} the most?

myself. 

sometimes, the shame overwhelms. sometimes, i take a look at my failure and believe the lie that i'll never overcome - never be free. i compare myself to others who've made a change or i'll wonder how this friend or that acquaintance can just dust themselves off after a mistake and hit the ground running with such force and resolve.

it takes weeks...sometimes months...for me to understand the grace i give others belongs to me as well. 

and if i can't find grace enough for myself, who do i really believe - the enemy's lies, or the One who took the cross despising my shame?

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People of the Second Chance just released their Never Beyond poster series - pictures of people society believes to be harmful - in order to begin a dialogue about second chances and grace. What are your thoughts? Is there anyone who does not deserve a second chance?

Posted on August 17, 2011 .