Recently I heard a song with the lyric “you always build it better the second time around”. I thought how true that is. We all have a relationship in our life that need mending or restoring and often times it’s easier for us to give up. Maybe it’s a relationship with your parent or your marriage. To try again can be heart breaking and will certainly mean hard work and intentional relational choices… I know. Still there’s a truth in there. If you take a broken relationship and build it back up a second time you have an opportunity to make things better. You’ve learned what hurts the other person. You’ve hopefully learned a lot about yourself. Maybe you know how to better communicate with that person, or at least know how NOT to! Building it back up requires team work – you both need to be on board. Sometimes it’s right to let someone go. However, I would never want to look back and regret letting someone or something go because I was too afraid or hurt to try again. You have to look to God and ask if this relationship needs to be given new life. It could very possibly turn out to be the most beautiful and fulfilling relationship you ever experience. Like the tree pictured above even when the branches have been burned there are still roots planted deep. New growth can be even more green, full, and beautiful than before.
“Life” in the future tense was presented to us in middle school as goal oriented with school as a foundation. Thinking about the future was always about graduating [from something] or getting married, getting a job, having family. It was always something I would DO. We were taught to do things the “right way” the first time. Even if it was take a road trip or record an album. Things from academic accomplishments to extracurricular achievements were notches to reach on a ruler of my life. The time line was marked with ideas of what I thought I would be DOING in the future or have DONE. Accomplished. As an adolescent I always carried around the idea that the struggle was getting to “that” point. Graduated. Married. Career. Family. As if the pinnacle of my life was to be age 22 and everything would sail ahead from there and not much would change after that. I honestly did not think my goals would be THAT hard to come by either. I assumed life would be what it had been up until that point. I moved from grade to grade each year passing the time completely out of my control.
Isn’t it funny how I saw life then? I didn’t even consider the toughest of heart breaks. Mistakes. I could not have understood there would be grief. Unexpected. I could not imagine that failure would be part of my story. That a goal wouldn’t be met. That priorities change and certain things would no longer be “important” in years to come. Even the word “important” meant something else. Being a kid was fundamentally innocent, without worry or major decisions, simple.
One decision and choice after another has led me to now. We’ve all heard the phrase “we are the sum total of all our experiences”. Sometimes the consequences of our choices are in proportion to what was expected. Sometimes they are far beyond. We also hear phrases like “there are lessons to be learned from failure even more so than success”. I’m always seeing quotes like this on Pinterest. I’m not exactly a quotes fanatic nor a theologian myself. As a child we mostly thought other’s screw ups are probably worse than our own. Yet as an adult we find ourselves thinking our mistakes are worse than others. We let our failures define us. We assume there won’t be any more chances for the future or goals met. We’ve bought into the idea that success looks a certain way with certain degrees or diplomas or financial statements and money in the bank. We think we only get one chance and hope is harder to come by. Things are the “way they are”. That’s “life”. I’ve learned life is never what you planned for better or worse.
Maybe you’ve said there is no more second chances to be given or received. This is not true. Failure can teach. We can learn. The most beautiful word in the world is “choice”. There is great power in the ability to make your own choices. Even greater power in deciphering as best you can what the right choice is. It is a choice to give a second chance or to receive one that is extended to you. Even after we’ve messed up royally there is still a choice to be made. Who do you want to be? It’s not in a job title. That’s not who you are. It’s not a relationship status. It’s not in a diploma. Who do you want to be? Integrity is a choice that your circumstances don’t define. Good character is something that can be gained. Regardless of your situation or what’s been done to you in the past… only YOU can choose to do right, accept good, know your worth, value life. We may not have known what our futures would end up looking like. In retrospect, I truly thank God life is not what were taught… graduation, career, and marriage. Don’t get me wrong, all those things are good. I’m not saying don’t graduate or have a career goal. I’m incredibly happy with my marriage and without a doubt I’m a better person for it. I’m just here to tell you that when life doesn’t go according to the plan, when goals aren’t met or are completely thrown out, and even when you make a really HUGE mistake… there’s a second time around coming. Turn a leaf. Try again. It might not be what you planned, but because of the lessons learned you always build it better the second time around.
“I want to talk to you about the subject of plans…
life plans and how we all make them,
and how we hope that our kids make good, smart,
safe plans of their own. But if we’re really honest
with ourselves, most of our plans don’t work out
as we’d hoped. So instead of asking our young people,
‘What are your plans? What do you plan to do with your life?’,
maybe we should tell them this: Plan… to be surprised.”
-Dan in Real Life