Sunday, April 29, 2012

One More Time

So once again I am looking for a second chance.  My life has been full of them and also, from time to time, third, fourth, even fifth chances.  I keep doing something until I get it right.  As Mrs. Bullins, the art teacher at Chilhowie High School some years ago, once told me, "I know how we can fix this."  What wonderful words to hear.  

Recently I've been involved with an organization that surprised me in its unwillingness to offer anyone a second chance.  You mess up, you're out.  Good-bye.  Hit the bricks.  "No, I'm not apologizing."  That's the way they dealt with anyone who acted in a way that did not meet the organizational norm.  I grew increasingly burdened by this corporate attitude, and so now I am no longer a part of the organization.  My philosophy is that second chances should come naturally to us, and I mean that all of us should, by common practice, offer forgiveness to any who mess up, even if what that person did caused great pain.  I once apologized to a person who told me he would not accept the apology, and when I was a very young woman, I did the same thing to a woman who called me to apologize.  Both times were extraordinarily painful for me; that's one reason they still float to the top of 62 years of memories.

Perhaps because I have erred so many times in my life, I have a great deal of sympathy for those who call up the strength to get out of a sleepless bed in the morning, fight back the ugly memories, get dressed, and go out to try again.  I don't agree with  Friedrich Neitzche that "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."  Many hurtful and painful things are not lethal, but those wounds can stunt growth, both spiritual and physical.  The duress of pain can deform the spirit.  We are not always stronger for having suffered.  Surviving the pain does not necessarily make us stronger.  A plant struggling to grow in a formidable environment will become pale, twisted, and weak.  I don't want that to happen to my spirit.   

The thing that makes us stronger is compassion for others who are hurting.  Ease up a little, give the other guy a break.  Something as minor as not getting angry at someone who is driving like a maniac can be exceptionally freeing.  If you want to grow spiritually, let the hatred and the pain go; pray for release from the torture of carrying around every callous word spoken to you and every hurtful act.  Give someone a second chance.

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