Friday, March 5, 2010

An Open Letter For a Second Chance

Dear friends,

This letter is not about me. This letter is about all the people who offended you years ago, and with whom you severed ties. This letter is about people who were going through something difficult that, while it did not excuse their actions, meant that their actions were a temporary response to a greater situation. This letter is about the people who destroyed their first chance with a rocket launcher.

The price of immaturity is the loss of second chances.

I ask for your understanding and for a little forgiveness. The person who harmed you in the past has grown, changed, and is now different and yet the same as they once were. They are stronger, more aware, and more mature. They have learned from their mistakes and while they are not perfect, they have discovered you and themselves valuable. One disaster does not mean the disaster will repeat forever.

Sometimes there is no way to be friends. Sometimes there is no way to come to middle ground and start over. Sometimes you or the other person understand the world completely differently. Sometimes the disaster really will repeat forever and you must rid yourself of the toxicity.


But not always.

Sometimes the cause is this: Tragedy. Depression. Misunderstanding. Uncertainty. Frustration. Abuse. Solitude. Pressure. Bullying. Living a Lie. Miscommunication. Mistakes.

These are not excuses. The behavior that harmed you cannot be excused, only taken responsibility for and rectified if possible.

But I ask for forgiveness for those with depression. I ask for forgiveness for those suffering from abuse - at their own hands or others. I ask for forgiveness for those whose circumstances leave no room for understanding how to deal with something that is eating them alive. I ask for forgiveness for those whose circumstances make their lives incomprehensible to outsiders and so they cannot receive reliable help.

The desperate flailing of the drowning can break noses and wound hearts.

I ask for forgiveness because sometimes, the way to be in other people's company can be consumed by living life. The emotions and sensitivity others demand dissolve, leaving only the sharp edges of hurt and pain for everyone else to deal with. There is nothing left for others when all of the person's power is being poured into simply surviving. When surviving or trying to fight their way to a life more honest, more truthful, less confusing, more joyful, sometimes there only way someone sees to move forward is to defend against all comers.

When a person defends themselves, the defense does not always differentiate between friends and attackers. And, then, when a mistake is made, sapped self-confidence destroys the idea of reconciliation. There's no way to say, "I'm sorry" if the wound is deep enough.

There's no way to know there's a wound if there's no feedback, and a second chance is feedback. Not everyone can offer a second chance, and not everyone should. But if you can, I implore you to try. You might be the better for it.

I just want you to remember, not all harm is caused by cruelty. At some point, it may be you desperately seeking forgiveness for the past.

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