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Four Years at the Mount

Sophomore year

Okay. Let's start over.

Sarah Muir
MSM Class of 2018

(10/2015) Second chances are a big deal. Some believe that forgiveness is important, that it is best to forgive and forget. Others believe that people are given one chance and if they fall flat, another one is not deserved. My personal belief is that everyone deserves a second opportunity, so long as they attempt to change. If they do not feel obligated to fix past mistakes then what good are the hundreds of chances are given? Second opportunities are special cases in which to take advantage of every chance they get. Even if the person stumbles and falls, so long as they put in the effort to get up and dust themselves off and try again they should be afforded another chance.

I was born and raised a Roman Catholic, so it would be remiss of me not to mention my faith when discussing second chances. The Catholic sacrament of Reconciliation or confession is based on two core principles: penance and resolution. The first, penance, means that the individual must feel remorse for his or her actions and resolution refers to the individual's will to change. Without these, the sacrament is meaningless. The same reasoning applies to second chances. If one does not see the error of their ways or does not bother to change them, the second chance is wasted.

We, at times, must prove to others (and ourselves) that we are at the very least, attempting improvement. I think many of you reading this have been lucky enough to get another chance in some way or another. Others have probably given them and you know just how tentative one can be when it comes to expecting another person to change.

Now getting a second chance is a gift, but giving them is extremely difficult. The whole concept of "forgive and forget" is hard to reconcile in my mind. I feel as though even if you manage to forgive, you can seldom forget when a person has wronged you. Not only that, but when a person gives another a second chance, they place their faith it that person to change. This, at times is terrifying because there can be those "what ifs" floating in the back of your head— "what if it happens again?" or "what if they take it for granted?" or "What if they do not change?"

However, while these "what ifs" traipse about your mind, there is another thought floating about—the thought that caused you to forgive in the first place. A small, quiet voice that says, "What if this is what they need to rescue themselves?"

Many months ago, way back in January, I wrote a piece about fresh starts and resolutions. In the article, I mentioned that a person is not limited to one new start every year, but rather life is full of endless possibilities for new beginnings, with which second chances go hand in hand. There is never just one chance to start again, but every day is an opportunity to bring about a change in yourself. Also, every day is a chance to bring about change in others whether it is giving them the benefit of the doubt or extending an olive branch to some estranged person in your life.

Personally, I am lucky enough to have not yet needed a monumental second chance in my life. However, that does not mean that I have not needed to change over time. To be honest, I have made mistakes, but who has not? Some I have given me the will to change, while others I continue to make, though I keep trying to fix what I can. Also, I try to not hold grudges against people who I feel have wronged me. I am not always successful, because in the case of forgiveness, it is easier said than done.

Even though I have said that second chances are a matter of choice that does not mean they should be taken lightly. Second chances are an important part of life and taking them for granted is counterproductive. They are not to be wasted like they are extra lives in video games, or something dispensable. They should be treated as what they are...something precious and valued.

There is a quote by Harrison Ford: "We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance." I cannot help but agree with him. Every day we have a shot at another chance, even if those around us have stopped giving them. Even in the face of tragedy or ruin, we can find the chance, the hope, to rebuild a better life. No matter what life throws your way, whether it be ecstasies or miseries, you take what you learn, leave what you can no longer carry, and start over.

Read other articles by Sarah Muir