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Written by Vicki Hinze

On June 13, 2008

How many chances does one get to get things right?

We’re mistake-ridden.  We make errors in judgment, use criteria that later proves faulty.  We goof, screw up, mess up.  We blow off when we should embrace, embrace when we should shun, shun when we should hold on with both hands in white-knuckle grips.

We don’t set out to do the wrong thing, or say the wrong thing, or to hurt others.  We often don’t realize that we have until we discover it later–sometimes through a third party.  It isn’t arrogance, we’re just, well, clueless.

Everyone has moments where they’re clueless.  Everyone takes a staggered step and slides off into a ditch now and then.  We’re human, and even if we are acting deliberately, thoughtfully, and with care, we’re going to make mistakes.

It isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.  And really it isn’t a matter of the mistake we make so much as it is a matter of our reaction to it.

Will we react reasonably, feel genuine contrition?  Will we attempt to make the wrong right, make amends?  Will we bury our head in the sand and ignore, hoping the challenge will go away?  Will we deny making the mistake at all because it causes us less trouble, worry, ridicule and/or fewer challenges?

Here’s a tip:  the challenge won’t go away.   When you get out of denial, it’ll still be there.

Another tip:  You can beat yourself up for the mistake for the rest of your life and the only thing you’ll be accomplishing is a good beating up.

Instead, opt for a constructive solution.  Fix what you can, and move on, remembering what you need to remember to avoid the same mistake, but not remembering so much that it renders you paralyzed and incapable of putting the past behind you and moving to the future.

Chances aren’t numbered.  They aren’t rationed out or restricted.  They aren’t withheld.  Humans might do those things but God never does.  He promised never to leave or forsake.  There were no exceptions.  No, okay, you’ve got a thousand chances and that’s it.  You blow it this time, and I’m gone for good.  None of that.  He will never leave or forsake us.  Never.  So if you need 1001, you’ve got it.  You get what you need, and that’s good news for those of us who goof up a lot (and that’s most of us).

There is a good side to making mistakes–in addition to learning from them and moving on down the path on our own journey.  There’s the ancillary good.  Knowing what we think, what we believe, how we feel.  Becoming aware of what makes us tick and where we draw our lines in the sand and why we draw them.  Aware, we are in a position to make adjustments.  To accept new ideas, thoughts, beliefs.  To reject those that we’ve carried in our minds and hearts that prove false or no longer fit the person we’ve become.

There’s also a precious, significant gift.  And that is we are privileged to experience grace.  Firsthand.  Love in spite of our actions.  Forgiveness for them, for wrongs we’ve committed both knowingly or unknowingly.

When we make a mistake–on purpose or by default–it eats at us.  When we are less than honest, less than wholly open, we carry that baggage.  In living, we accumulate a lot of baggage.  And after a time (and before we know it) we’re lugging around a ton of it.  And–this is a biggee–it’s heavy!

Heavy on the mind, heavy on the heart, and heavy on the soul.  We stagger under the weight of it.  We can get it off our minds or out of our heads.  We feel soiled, empty.  We suffer pain, and when it gets strong enough and we get weary enough, we want a chance–some sign that there’s hope to get beyond it.  That desire might be a tiny spark, a pale flame, and maybe we’re so broken and suffering so much all we can manage to summon it is a faint whimper.

But that’s all it takes.  And then we have another chance.  And another.  And another.  And still yet another.

Over and again chances present themselves to us.  Maybe not in the form or manner or through the person we expected, but another chance appears.

People restrict chances.  They make their love, time and/or attention contingent on specific things.  “If you do this for me, I will love you.  If you do this, I’ll let you see the children, the grandchildren.  If you do what I want, when I want, the way I want–regardless of what I do–then your reward will be another chance.”

That’s too often the human way.  What it really is is blackmail or extortion.  That’s no chance at all.  These might be the ways of the world.  The realities of interactions with human beings, but they are  not the ways or the realities of God.  With Him, you ask, you receive.

You must ask and you must be willing to receive.  He honors that free will promise.  But if you do ask and you are willing to receive, then you need not fear you’ve used up your share of allotted chances.

He always has one more.

The other day, my eldest angel gave me a neck-cracker hug.  She said, “Gran, don’t worry.”  Her little face was so serious.  “I never run out of hugs.  There’s always more.”

God is that way with chances.  He never gives up on us.  He remains ever hopeful that we’ll turn or return to Him.  We’ve all heard/read the versus on forgiveness.  A repentant offended one is forgiven seventy times seven.   But even that isn’t a literal number.  It was an illustration of infinite opportunity.

We’re stretching and growing.  We’re going to misstep and mess up.  It’s inevitable.  We’re imperfect humans.  But knowing that when we do mess up, He’s there to catch us, to encourage us, to bind our wounds, heal our broken hearts and pour strength into our weary souls, well, that makes stretching and growing a bit easier.  We’re not out on the end of that frail limb alone.  There’s power in that.  Courage to dare, to risk in that knowledge.

And just as one who loves never runs out of hugs, we, receiving love, never run out of chances.



©2008, Vicki Hinze


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