I love hearing people’s stories. For some reason people have this ability to just open up to me. With no hesitation they begin to tell me about a journey they’ve been on that led them to where they currently are.
Typically, I’ve found that people need second chances for all kinds of things. Many are hurting. Some are confused. Most just need me to listen. People need second chances. And you can be the remedy.
On more than one occasion I have been asked how I am able to disclose so much of my life’s story. So much of my personal secrets and pains that I carry around. How am I able to talk about my full-blown failures and downright worst mistakes of my life. To be honest it has taken a long time for me to be able to do this. It was a matter of process. A long process.
For the past ninety percent of my life I have guarded my heart like it was Fort Knox. Protecting it from not only what was on the outside but keeping in what was on the inside. For the rare privileged who I allowed the honor of false glimpses into my emotions and feelings of what was revealed was still only a distorted portion of the whole picture.
No way, no how, will anyone get into this heart of mine.
I entered into a desert that would last for well over a year. I walked in dry land. I breathed dry air. I thirst for water. I saw mirages that weren’t there. It was the loneliest I had ever felt. I wondered in circles. All the while I knew Christ was leading me while no one else was by my side.
I went to counseling twice every two weeks. Attend a 12 Step meeting 3 times a week. Court every other week. Required to call and check in daily. Adhered to a curfew and comply with a compliance officer and anything else that was asked of me such as random UA tests.
I entered that program with grace and thankfulness. I would gladly attend the meeting freely. It’s better than being locked up. I would gladly take 10 seconds to check in. It’s better than no phone. I would gladly adhere to an 11pm curfew. It’s better than a 10pm lights out.
It took many small victories for me find solid ground. And they were the most painful, yet gracious year of my life. My bipolar had come to control my life and wreak havoc. This was my last chance at saving my family. In this desert I learned what God’s grace really is, and I’m still learning every day.
Today, I am a totally different person, and the lessons still stand out:
That God could see me stripped of my pride and laying in the mist of the muck I created…and still call me His?
That he could reach down into that jail cell, and pull me out?
I’m only a writer. A work in progress myself. But I spend my days imagining. We all have a story to tell. In mine, in my opinion I’ve faced satan face to face and spit right in it. I’ve walked the walk of the living dead dealing with suicidal depression only to be brought back to life with a stupid pill. I’ve been hospitalized 5 times for suicidal depression. I’ve been invincible and had money beyond my control while under the wings of mania.
I’ve felt powerless and at both of their mercies trying to find some kind of balance in order to live some kind of normal life. I’ve been shunned and stigmatized without given the opportunity to be known for the beauty and size of my heart.
I fought three years for the lives and relationships of my own children and my step children who were viciously trying to be taken away from my wife and me.
I tell my stories of bipolar. I tell my stories of alcohol and pill addiction. I tell my stories of parental alienation. I tell my stories of Parkinson’s.
I’ve been accused of living in the past and not letting go. I’ve known people who lived in the past and didn’t let go. It’s the farthest from the truth. I’ve been able to embrace my past and learn from it. Use it.
My truth today is that I have hurt not just one individual from my past, but many. And so the story begins. What does your story look like? Are you living an adventure today you’d love to talk about? Are you living in the truth? Or have you created a story to accommodate a life you were never meant to live?
So why I do tell so much of my stories? Because someone needs to know second chances are real. That grace is real.
It begins with you. Finding people in need of a second change is easy. We all pretty do. We all make that mistake we wish we could take back. That back decision. So on.
The hard part is taking the initiative to start the conversation.
But it is crucial.
Someone may never understand grace or the opportunity of a second chance if you don’t tell them.
Someone needs you to find them.
Someone need the hope you bring.
Someone needs a second chance and they need you to tell them they deserve it