"We are all a work in progress."
The year was 1995. I was working at the Country Club of Jackson and I was loving the independence of having my own car. Technically I classify the teenage me as a fairly typical kid that stayed out of trouble. My normal route to work took me 8-9 minutes and I think I drove the same route hundreds of times. But then one day things were a bit different.
(Let's keep in mind this is before cell phones.)
As I was driving to work early on a Saturday morning I was admittedly pre-occupied. I still remember thinking about a girl and fidgeting with the radio.
Next thing I know I look up and hammer a mail box. It went flying 20 feet into the air.
In that moment I was scared to death. In a blink of an eye I chose to drive away and go to work.
The rest of the day I was constantly looking over my shoulder and internally my stomach was in knots all day long.
Now here's the truth. For four days I felt this heavy weight of guilt. Yet I did nothing. Then on day four I walked to the front door and knocked.
More on this later...
On a recent run I asked my good friend, "do you believe in second chances?" My friend chuckled. He then blurted out, you're an educator...of course you believe in second, third, and fourth chances.
The question now becomes, do you believe in second chances?
There are three schools of thought when it comes to giving second chances.
One, people can change, no one is perfect. We should give second chances.
Two, by giving multiple chances we are enabling.
Three, some acts do not deserve second chances.
Admittedly, I'm a believer that people can change. Recently, ESPN chose to hire Ryan Leaf after an ugly history of drugs, theft, prison and burglary. You can read the story here. Personally, I applaud ESPN. Giving Ryan Leaf an opportunity, a fresh start in the booth is a risk, but it says a lot about their belief in people.
Life is interesting. Can I tell you a couple things I've learned?
First, I've learned that being magnanimous makes a person feel better about themself. Simply put, being able to forgive is healthy for us.
Research states: "There's nothing wrong with healthy anger, but when anger is very deep and long lasting, it can do a number on us systemically," he says. "When you get rid of anger, your muscles relax, you're less anxious, you have more energy, your immune system can strengthen."
In one meta-analysis, for example, Yoichi Chida, MD, PhD, found that anger and hostility are linked to a higher risk of heart disease, and poorer outcomes for people with existing heart disease (Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2009). "When you stand up to the pain of what happened to you and offer goodness to the person who hurt you, you change your view of yourself."
Second, I do believe people can change. I refer to the Ryan Leaf story. Admittedly, Ryan spoke of meeting a veteran in prison and that relationship led him on a road of recovery.
As human beings we are prone to making mistakes. Some mistakes can be fixed fairly easily and other mistakes leaving lasting scars. I challenge you to think about yourself. Are you able to give second chances?
I'm glad I knocked on that front door. But you know what I'm even more grateful for? The person that answered accepted my apology and allowed me to share my remorse and make it right. Each day I try very hard to not judge people. Everyone has a story and everyone's journey is filled with both successes and failures. I choose to have a heart that believes in second chances.
Does a student in your class need a second chance? Does a colleague need to be forgiven? We can all benefit from forgiving and choosing to support people on the journey of life.