Second Chances (or 49 Chances)!

“Dr. Neecie, I so badly want to be a World Changer. But you have no idea how many times I’ve messed up, hurt people, disappointed my family… How could I possibly become a World Changer?”

Last week I wrote about World Changers, and more than any blog in a long time, my email, text messages, and messenger messages blew up as a result!

So many people are saying similar things. I was so moved by the message above that I took the time to write a lengthy response. As I was writing it, and more similar questions poured in, I knew it would be what I wrote about this week.

Let’s address the three most frequently asked questions.

Question #1

The first question is above: I’ve messed up, hurt people, disappointed my family… How could I possibly become a World Changer?”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve needed LOTS of
second chances!

By taking advantage of second chances.

Third chances.

Twelve chances. 

Twenty-four chances.

Forty-nine chances. 

I believe that second chances, 12 chances, 49 chances, how ever many chances we need, will come along.  How many times have you heard (have you SAID), “I’m done with him (her)!”  Then you’re back with that person in two weeks?  We’ve ALL been there!

I love what Lance Armstrong said about second chances: 

If you ever get a second chance in life for something, you’ve got to go all the way. 

The same holds true for how ever many chances that we need.

The real question is, will you be courageous enough, accountable enough, and determined enough to embrace the beauty of your second chance (or 49th chance)? 

Research conducted at the University of Bremen, involving 42,000 participants, has given us some real insight into both those needing a second chance, and those who can grant a second chance.

The research revealed some surprising and instructive truths to us:

1. The person in need of a second chance will only do well if they learned lessons from the first chance. Those who tend to minimize, overlook, or justify the first chance will likely not do any better on their second chance.

2. The person who grants a second chance is blessed with tremendous personasl growth. Granting a second chance when you’ve been betrayed, disappointed, or wronged in any way, requires one of two things according to the study.

It requires granting grace, or granting forgiveness.

Although the two are similar, in the study, grace is defined as the ability to overlook the first chance by granting something that the other does not deserve. Forgiveness is defined as the ability to let go of the need to punish the person.

If someone either grants grace or forgiveness, and gives a second chance, their personal growth is exceptional. Studies have actually revealed that that very act can relieve depression and or anxiety.

Question #2

I also received a lot of replies from those who had been wronged, wondering if they should grant a second chance.

“How many chances should I give?“

My response was likely not very popular: “Give as many times as you would like to be given.“ (NOTICE: My answer is completely different when there is abuse involved. Safety is always a priority.)

I was working with a couple recently where this was a huge issue. In the beginning of their relationship, he had betrayed her multiple times with affairs. He had withheld love for a number of years. He had blamed her for things that she had not done (some he had done himself) and set requirements for her that he was not willing to live by himself. He was unfairly jealous and accusatory for years.

But she granted chance after chance after chance. About seven years into their relationship, he finally decided to take Lance Armstong’s advice.  He went all in.  He began to make major changes about how he treated her, how he regarded her, and his expectations. He became faithful and began pouring out the love he had withheld.

She confessed that although many times she had wanted to quit, she saw such awesome things in him.  So she chose to stand by him and grant grace and forgiveness. Again and again.

Now that they were in year 14, she made a very poor choice. She had gone out with her friends to have a few drinks, and ended up drinking too many. On the way home, she was pulled over and got a DWI.

He was determined to file for divorce. She convinced him to go to counseling, hoping he would hear her begging him for a second chance. 

They spent a bit of time arguing about whether or not she deserved a second chance. As I shared with them, NONE OF US may actually deserve the second chance, but it is a wonderful opportunity when you are in need of one!

I realized that he had forgotten how many second chances she had granted him.

I asked him, “How many second chances did she give you in those first seven years?“ He looked confused, so I asked him to go to the board and draw some bullet points to list the second chances she had granted him.

After he had written about 10 bullet points, I asked him, “Are there more?“ He ducked his head in shame as he said, “There are a lot more…“

I asked him to draw a vertical line, and in the second column, to write how many second chances he had given her.

He stood facing the whiteboard for quite some time, and she said, “I can help you. Remember the time that I yelled at you and called you names that you did not deserve when we were arguing out on our deck?“

He raised his arm as if he was going to write it on the board. Instead he turned and faced her with a sheepish grin, and said, “I didn’t need to give you a second chance. I’m the one that created that fiasco, and you immediately stopped yourself and said you should not have said those things.”

He turned back to the board to the second column and drew a bullet point. Beside it, he wrote DWI. 

His entire demeanor changed as he put his marker in the tray, came and sat down beside her, and said,  “You’ve given me far more second chances than I ever deserved, and I’m going to give you your first second chance. I am so sorry!“

It was a priceless moment to witness and priceless for both of them.

There are always opportunities for a second chance.

You may be thinking: “But can people who need 49 chances be World Changers? That’s a lot of messing up.”

Yes it is! But the answer is: “Absolutely! As long as you learn and grow with every chance that you are given.”

When I wrote about World Changers last week (click here to read that article), I said World Changers are often people who would never have been expected to become a World Changer.  People who became World Changers “against all odds!“

Whether you need a second chance, or a 49th chance, perhaps it’s your journey to becoming a World Changer against all odds.

Question #3

The third question I got asked was this:  What do I need to do if I’m running out of chances and want to be a World Changer?

Ahhh … great question!  My replies:

1. Get up! 

2. Learn from your mistakes and failures! 

3. Stop blaming others.  Any person, any organization, anything else.

4. Stop focusing on what people think about you.

5. Start focusing on what you can do to become a World Changer!

6. Make amends where you can.

7. Find a mentor. (Someone who is ahead of you in becoming a World Changer).

8. Find an accountability partner.

9. Start today. 

10. Dream big!

I love what Nicholas Sparks said about second chances in The Notebook

I guess it’s like Annie sings:

The sun will come out
So ya gotta hang on
‘Til tomorrow
Come what may

I love ya

You’re always a day away!

Embrace who you are, but also embrace who you can become. Do not allow what you’ve done to define you. Instead, be defined as one who embraced the second chance and took it to the limit!

You have a World Changer in you!