Have you ever been betrayed or disappointed by someone you care about? Yeah, I know. Haven’t we all? Sometimes the betrayal burns to the point of tormenting our very souls. In that instance, can you even imagine giving that person a second chance?
No way!
Nevertheless there is something fundamental in the human spirit that values forgiveness. Giving up on people — whether it is your favorite hip-hop star, a politician, your best friend, or your lover — seems incompatible to that value.
Science generally defines forgiveness, according to Psychology Today, as the deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward another person, whether they deserve it or not.
That’s the key. Who hasn’t fought the temptation after betrayal to scheme the ultimate pay back? How can we make the person who hurt us feel the same suffering — or worse suffering –– we are feeling now?
Overcoming that temptation seems impossible, at first. Sometimes the only way to forgiveness is through the passage of time.
Remember too, we’ve all been given chances that we don’t have right to. The thing about second chances is that no one deserves them, but we all often receive them — and usually more than once. When we are forgiven, and we know that we don’t deserve the forgiveness, that’s the definition of “grace.”
There’s a difference between allowing someone a second chance, and allowing yourself to be exploited. The distinction is foggy when you are emotionally tied, but ironically, it seems so clear when you finally break away.
Forgiveness is not granting the person that hurt you another opportunity to hurt you in the future. Giving someone a second chance doesn’t always mean that you have to stick around to see how it turns out. When asked by my friends involved in an abusive relationship, I usually advise that if they put themselves into a position for it to happen again, they actually are volunteering.
There are two sides to forgiveness, also.
If you hope someone forgives you, remember that you can’t push it or beg for it, or even expect it. It has to be granted freely. If you need to forgive someone else, remember that a second chance for them is also a second chance for you.
I’ve been brooding for more than two weeks now, because I’m looking for that forgiveness. Why? Why me? What did I do wrong to need a second chance?
Beats me. We don’t always get all the answers.
Still, I realize now that maybe I’ve got it backwards. The real question is whether I’m just as willing to grant the second chance as accept one.
Shaking myself of that feeling of betrayal is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and working my way to forgiveness is the longest journey I’ve ever taken.
I’m not quite there, yet. But the good news is that, when I do get that second chance, grace waits at the end of the road.

John O. Marlowe is a reporter, sports writer and award-winning columnist for The Paper.