Monthly Archives: February 2012

OFFENSIVE WHITNEY HOUSTON CARD

By Mohan Karulkar:

Target decided to pull a greeting card that had a joke about Whitney Houston. Considering her recent death, the card is clearly in poor taste (via TMZ):

But what about before her death?  Was it in good taste then?  And if not, why didn’t anyone care before she died?

When someone’s personal struggle becomes such common knowledge that it shows up on a greeting card, it probably makes embracing a second chance kind of hard.

Think about that for a minute, and ask yourself, have you ever advertised someone’s failure on a greeting card? Not literally, but maybe things like:

  • Held a grudge against them?
  • Talked about them behind their back?
  • Dropped a suggestive “prayer request” or concerned Facebook post about them?
  • Poked fun at them about something that happened years ago?

Let’s not fall for that junk.  Let’s be sure that we’re making the world an easier place for second chances, not a harder place. No one’s struggle belongs on a Hallmark.

Thoughts?


TAKE THE COURAGEOUS LEAP

By Ashley Smith:

A second chance is a leap. A courageous leap.

When I saw the date on my calendar today, I first looked at the meetings, appointments, and my to do list… and it hit me, February 29th only comes around every 4 years.

Usually, I would listen to the loud voice of the task master and seek perfectionism over dreaming and creating. I would rationalize that I can be brave another day, like on a weekend. I would tell myself that I have emails to finish and a list to check off and a quota to accomplish. Up until now, I would have been held prisoner by my people pleasing.

That’s when I heard it- the small, soft whisper of the creative voice emerging inside of me.

Not today.

Today I am not going to fall into the trap of chasing perfection.

Today, I am taking the leap. I am going to choose to be brave and to be me. To be imperfect and messy and unique. Today, I am going to set aside the loud voice of my inner critic and let the soft whisper of grace lead me.

Today, I am going to listen with empathy. I will be present and connect with human beings over checking my email every 10 seconds or being ruled by my iPhone.

I will act with courage. I will live outside of my comfort zone today. I will be brave with my story and my imperfections.

I will push through my fear with tenacity. I will persevere when it gets difficult, even when I am tempted to go back to what is familiar. There is nothing that I cannot handle today.

I will live with clear purpose. I will embrace that my life is significant and impacts the world for good. I will choose to be confident and secure and know that I matter.

I will hold tightly on to hope. That healing is happening and I will be stronger because of my journey through failure and deep pain. That it will get better. I do not have to fear impending doom. Hope is stronger.

Today, on leap year, I am going to live my life in the context of grace, not shame.

I am going to be free to embrace the beauty of second chances.

Today, I am leaping into who I really am. Today, I am risking the courageous leap and embracing my second chance. Who wants to leap with me?


REALITY.

By Karen Hammons:

I’m slightly broken.

And I don’t like saying that out loud. It’s quite painful saying it.

Who knows how many eyeballs landing on those words will subconsciously begin judging me or think how I need to be “fixed”.

This past week I’ve had a “fight” on several fronts.

Children with school issues.

Dealing with legal issues that are three years old and finding out it could take another year – or longer.

Forgetting to give four teachers a present before the holiday break. (Small in the grand scheme of things, but that “perfect Mom” label is relentless.)

And a body showing signs that it just can’t handle my addiction to food any longer no matter how comfortable I am (or my hubby is) with my “wobbly bits” (yes… Bridget Jones. Go Netflix it).

Right now I am in a raw season. Processing all of this while trying to figure out who the hell I am at 32 years old.

Not who I’m supposed to be.

Not who others want me to be.

But who is this woman that God has taken so much time to create, pursue, grow, and love passionately?

This woman is trying to demolish the labels I have within different circles of my community.

Except that the stickiest ones are in my own mind.  It’s a mind that feels a little scrambled. A mind that is a little scared to process through it all on my own, let alone allowing anyone else in on it over the fear that they will run as far as possible.

Or judge.

Because I’m Karen. The happy one. The one with the pink faux-hawk who is always happy and encouraging. The fearless leader.

However, sometimes the happy girl struggles too. And when she is leading the charge, sometimes she is shaking in her black corduroy Toms, questioning herself and her abilities.

And that is ok. It’s ok to not be ok.  I have to choose not to be afraid of the “mess” any longer.  I don’t need to be “fixed,” as some might think. I’m learning. I’m being stretched. And all the boxes I’ve kept everything hidden in are being crushed one by one.

It’s all for good.  And I just need to give myself some grace so I don’t miss the lesson or any part of this journey.

Perhaps the main lesson is this:  Grace is HUGE.  Grace has power. And through grace, I can make it through anything.


PARDON THE LINTERRUPTION

By Mohan Karulkar:

I’m not much of a basketball fan.  Haven’t been since Bulls/Sonics in ’96.  Seriously.

But, being the news junkie that I am, Linsanity has been hard to miss.  And being a person of second chances, Jeremy Lin’s story has been hard to beat.  Undrafted out of Harvard.  Cut from the Warriors and Rockets.  Sent to the D-league by the Knicks.  Sleeping on a couch.  In a van down by the river.

Then, moved back to the Knicks out of desperation, and rest is history.  Averaging 23.9 points and 9.2 assists over his first 11 games in the Knicks’ rotation.  Outscoring KobeSinking crazy baskets.  And showing humility the whole way.  A class act.

Talk about the perfect second-chance story.

But last night, the Knicks faced the red-hot Miami Heat, and Linsanity came to a hard stop. Lin walked away 1-11 from the field, with just 8 points and 3 assists on the night.  I have to say, as an outsider Lin fan, I was a little disappointed.

And the naysayers might be having a field day today, but I think Lin’s own comments on the night speak volumes:

“I’m not going to hang my head or anything like that,” Lin said. “I know I went out there and I played hard. Can’t win `em all. Can’t have a great game every game. But at the same time, I need to understand, `OK, what’d I do wrong? How can I improve?’ I think that’s going to be exciting.”

You see, what inspires the world isn’t just class on top; but class all the way through. If you want your second chance to count for all it should, see it through to the end. And if it doesn’t work out, learn from it, and get back up.  Don’t hang your head, and don’t throw in the towel.

You might have thought you were alone, but you’ve got a whole team by your side now.  We believe in you, and it’s time you sparked a little Linsanity of your own.

<img class=”alignright size-full wp-image-6104″ style=”float: right; margin-left: 10px;” title=”linterruption” src=”http://www.secondchance.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/linterruption.jpg” alt=”" width=”300″ height=”218″ />

FEAR OF STORYTELLING

By Kera Package:

Story telling is terrifying, particularly when it is your own story. When your childhood is sprinkled with parental abandonment, abuse, alcoholism, failed suicide attempts, drugs, sexual addiction, and a myriad of other drama, the last thing you want to do is invite the world into your poorly written soap opera.

People label you, treat you differently, and question your integrity. You lose friends, upset family members, and disappoint those you love. And as you share your story, you wonder if it’s even worth it. Does anyone care? Could they ever understand? Does it even matter?

So it’s no surprise I was afraid of sharing my story. But can I tell you a secret?

Telling your story isn’t nearly as terrifying as not telling it.

Because honestly, learning how to share your story is the only way to truly heal. By wrestling with how to share it, you are forced to find words to define your emotional experiences. And as you do, you realize that those words don’t define you. Those experiences don’t define you. You are not defined by your story.

And in telling your story, you own it, so that it doesn’t own you.

It was pure desperation that introduced me to the concept of story telling. In my senior year of high school, I walked into a teacher’s office, locked the door behind me, and started crying hysterically as I tried to explain how my life was falling apart. I was just kicked out of my house with no money, no resources, and no idea how to respond. And at rock bottom, I was finally forced to share my story.

But just a few months later, my challenges actually opened doors for me to attend college with a considerable amount of scholarship funds. The generous gifts of strangers provided opportunities to move forward, and the support of friends helped bring healing into my life.

All because I shared my story instead of keeping it locked inside.

Sharing my story has been a paradigm shift in my life.  I was once convinced that there was no reason to tell it, but the truth is that if I remain silent, I not only diminish my ability to heal, but I may also rob others of the opportunity to do the same.  As I am vulnerable with my story, people share bits and pieces of their lives as well, and I see healing taking place before my eyes.  It amazes me how someone so imperfect has had so many opportunities to spark healing in the lives of others, simply by sharing my experience.

That momentary fear of how others will respond to what you say is manageable compared to the terrifying idea of thwarting the forward progress of both your life and the lives of others because you are too afraid to share.

Yes, sharing your story is intimidating, but I promise you that it is worth it.

So, what’s your story?


COURAGE

By Seung Chan Lim:

2006 was a significant year for me. It was not only the year that I turned 29 (as in just about to hit the 3-0), but it was also the year that planted the seeds that would eventually put me at this scary place I am at right now.

One of the things that happened that year was that I attended a small art panel in downtown Pittsburgh. It was a totally unexpected thing for me to do because of the attitude I had back then toward “art.” To put it bluntly, I equated art with BS.  I had very little respect for artists in general, and the word “art” was just fluffy, fuzzy, and meaningless.

Writing that last sentence leaves me physically uncomfortable now, because my ignorance is so obvious in hindsight. But back then I was absolutely certain about that feeling. If attending this small obscure art panel could have been expected, it would have been to prove that art was BS.  But even that was not why I was there.

The reason I was there was a highly irrational reaction to a phrase I read the day before: “Do one thing every day that scares you.“  This was a transitional period in my life, where everything I had believed in had come into question, so that phrase struck a chord with me.  After reading it, I happened to see a note about a panel discussion in a downtown art gallery, where artists would be facilitating a discussion on racism. It seemed like a random lil event, but that randomness  — and the idea of meeting strangers in a panel setting — was, well, scary. :) So I had to do it.

The art panel turned out to be very very small. There were maybe 15 people in the entire space. After a long awkward period of browsing nonsensical paintings around the gallery, we were asked to sit in the main hall of the gallery. We then split into three groups of 5 to start the discussion around the topic of racism. I had my share of stuff to say as I have experienced this in the U.S. myself, so I was quite eager to pitch in. But then as I sat there listening to one person after another sharing their stories of how they experienced racism, and why they found it unjust, etc… I noticed a pattern. Each one of them not only shared what had happened to them, but when they got down to the bottom of their feelings, they divulged the fact that it has effected their daily lives by filling it with fear. That because something heinous had happened to them once, they had come to believe that they can indeed happen again. And this fear was preventing them from questioning the strong belief they had developed as a result.

This was a huge smack on my own head, and it became very clear to me at that moment that I have also been living a life of fear. And this fear resulting from having experienced a heinous act of hate by others, had deeply seeded a sense of fear in me, which has essentially turned me into yet another hater not much better than those who had acted badly toward me.

I’ve experienced two horrible incidents on the street. Once in Seoul and once in Beijing. Both times all I did was look at someone in the eye and say “hello”. But what happened afterwards was that they got very angry and wanted to beat me up. Well, run like hell I did. After having gone through something like this a couple times (across culture, no less) I must have taken a mental note to myself that smiling and saying “hello” to strangers is probably not a good idea.

So, what I absolutely __loved__ about the “idea” of America (before I got here) was that people seem to say “hello” on the street and smile to each other. They say “good morning” as they enter their work place, they greet the door man, the guard, etc… At least that’s what it looked like in the movies. I was fascinated! It seemed like such a wonderful place to be! So when I got to the U.S. I tried it out by smiling and saying “hello” to strangers on the street. And it didn’t work! :( Many times people gave me the “who the hell are you?” look.
So I quickly got very timid, and stopped doing it. It was bad enough that this was a new thing I was trying…

But what this discussion made me realize was that, the fact that I stopped trying, meant that I was discouraging others who might also be trying. To bring it back more closely to the realm of racism, if I saw a black man walking toward me downtown, even if I didn’t have the racial prejudice of thinking he’s bad news, I would still avoid eye contact because I have never had a positive experience greeting strangers on the street. But then he can very much take that as a racially prejudiced act, and be reaffirmed of the racism that still clearly exists in the world today. What just happened there? Nothing good. It only perpetuated fear. While I may have acted on my past negative experience of greeting people on the street, the result is reciprocal feeding of fear on both ends.

This really made me think again about how simple it can be to bring joy into our everyday lives. Not only our lives but of others. If we could just muster up the courage to smile and greet at the strangers we pass by on the street, I wonder how different the world would be?

Just that lil conscious act of courage, of trust. Nothing more. Nothing less. I think that would be an amazing act of design.

(The short film below describes these thoughts in more detail.)


LIKE AN AVALANCHE

By Joey Berrios:

Casey Anthony, Osama Bin Laden, Joe Paterno, Rob Blagojevich. Chris Brown. These are not names normally associated with grace. Most of the time, we think of punishment and retribution — people beyond God’s grace.

Which says a lot, because the way that we extend grace to others is connected to how we receive God’s grace. It’s radical, and it encompasses our struggles, pain, and heartaches; our sin, past mistakes, and failures; even our relationships and friendships.  And if we feel that some people are beyond God’s grace, we cannot fully experience it for ourselves.

The apostle Paul is a great example of God’s radical grace. Most Christians would have had reservations about extending grace to Paul, who was a murderer and persecutor. But God extended grace and changed his life forever. He gave Paul a mission, and His grace saw Paul through to the end.  Because of that grace, we have most of the New Testament of the Bible, and through Paul’s story we see that even the worst of sinners are eligible to receive God’s wonderful grace.

Paul said the following words about himself:

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:12-14)

We have all made terrible mistakes. We have all said things that we wish we could take back. We have all done things that we deeply regret. But the incredible truth is that God wants to pour out his radical grace and completely revolutionize our lives — if we allow it to. And to really be in a place to allow it, we need to be willing to give it.

Hillsong United’s recent song, “Like An Avanlance,” proclaims this:

And I find myself on me knees again
Caught up in grace like an avalanche
Nothing compares to this love love love
Burning in my heart

And when you’re caught up in an avalanche, you can’t help but go along.  May we all experience the grace of God like an avalanche as we extend God’s radical grace towards others.

 

Casey Anthony, Osama Bin Laden, Joe Paterno, Rob Blagojevich. Chris Brown. These are not names normally associated with grace. Most of the time, we think of punishment and retribution — people beyond God’s grace.

 

Which says a lot, because the way that we extend grace to others is connected to how we receive God’s grace. It’s radical, and it encompasses our struggles, pain, and heartaches; our sin, past mistakes, and failures; even our relationships and friendships. And if we feel that some people are beyond God’s grace, we cannot fully experience it for ourselves.

 

The apostle Paul is a great example of God’s radical grace. Most Christians would have had reservations about extending grace to Paul, who was a murderer and persecutor. But God extended grace and changed his life forever. He gave Paul a mission, and His grace saw Paul through to the end. Because of that grace, we have most of the New Testament of the Bible, and through Paul’s story we see that even the worst of sinners are eligible to receive God’s wonderful grace.

 

Paul said the following words about himself:

 

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:12-14)

 

We have all made terrible mistakes. We have all said things that we wish we could take back. We have all done things that we deeply regret. But the incredible truth is that God wants to pour out his radical grace and completely revolutionize our lives — if we allow it to. And to really be in a place to allow it, we need to be willing to give it.

 

Hillsong United’s recent song, “Like An Avanlance,” proclaims this:

 

And I find myself on me knees again

Caught up in grace like an avalanche

Nothing compares to this love love love

Burning in my heart

 

And when you’re caught up in an avalanche, you can’t help but go along. May we all experience the grace of God like an avalanche as we extend God’s radical grace towards others.


WALKING SECOND CHANCE

By Desirae Schneider:

Why People of a “Second Chance”?   What’s so special about a “second chance”?

As part of the POTSC community, I LOVE these types of questions. They spark conversation, and conversation sparks a heartbeat, and a heartbeat is all grace needs to make a radical difference.

So what is so special about a second chance?  EVERYTHING.

A second chance is the most powerful thing you can extend to another person.

It amplifies love.
It restores hope.
It redeems value.
It rises above the tides of judgment.
It breaks free the chains of repression.
It grabs hold of the hands of the anguish and deems them beautiful.
It takes a person from being devalued because of their actions to being valued because they are a person.

A second chance is grace in action.  A second chance is the story changer.

It takes someone from…

there to here
unseen to seen
forgotten to remembered
lost to found
drowning to swimming
abandoned to rescued.

How do I know this?

Because my story was radically changed by grace.  Not because I am a great person or a person who has earned her way, but because I am a product of grace.   I am a second chance with skin on.

So why People of a “Second Chance”?

Because we are all walking second chances.


AFRAID TO FORGIVE CHRIS BROWN

By Mohan Karulkar:

I’ll admit it.  When I saw Chris Brown perform during the Grammys, I made a face and turned to my wife.  “I really don’t like him,” I said to her.

And actually, I said a lot more in my head.  “He’s sleazy.  He’s sketchy.  He’s abusive.  He’s a terrible influence.

I was a little ashamed when I reviewed the string of choice labels I’d just lobbed at the TV, but I shrugged it off and moved on.

Then I started hearing the rumblings of a controversy.  People were upset.  People were writing articles with titles like “Do We Have To Forgive Chris Brown?” and “No, We Don’t Have To Forgive Chris Brown.“    (yes, really)

And if things weren’t touchy enough, a group of fans tweeted that they’d let Chris Brown “beat [them] anytime he wants.” (yes, really, again)

Good grief.

Meanwhile, Grammy Producer Ken Ehrlich has stated that he was rooting for Brown: “I just believe people deserve a second chance.  The year he had this year, really brought him back into the public. He really deserved a second chance.”

So, who’s right?  And why does it even matter? It may seem almost irrelevant, since Chris Brown is a celebrity, and our thoughts have pretty much no bearing on his situation or the greater controversy.

Except it isn’t irrelevant, because in my experience, our thoughts towards people far removed from us inevitably leak into our thoughts towards people close to us.  So over the last few days I’ve read, thought, polled, and even prayed about it.  And I noticed something that I never noticed before:

We tend to believe that when we give someone a second chance, that means we’re condoning whatever they did to blow their first chance.

In fact, “Believe” may actually be the wrong word.  Maybe it’s about fear.  Maybe we’re afraid that if we forgive someone, people will think we’re condoning their actions.

In any case, that kind of thinking takes forgiveness off the table, because even if we conceed that forgiveness is a good thing, as many of the most angry responders to the controversy have done, we could never risk the chance that we might start approving of the crime.  Or even the appearance of approval.  So don’t even ask, because I’m not going to do it.  It’s not worth it.  He hit her, and that’s wrong, and end of story.

That’s not true in all cases, though, right?  If it were, then we’d be disowning our kids, returning our pets, and moving to Fargo.  In fact, we can be quite generous with forgiveness — so long as it won’t embarrass us.  Mouthy kids?  Unloving parents?  Unfair parking tickets?  Lazy spouses?  We’re not so embarrassed by that stuff.  No one’s afraid of their neighbors thinking they condone parking tickets.

But molestation?  Domestic abuse?   Infidelity?   Violent crime?   Don’t even ask, because I’m not going to do it.  It’s not worth it.

Well, I’m going to go out on a limb and claim that’s a prison.  Something we’re afraid of (people thinking we approve) is preventing us from doing something we know is right (forgiveness).  If that’s not bondage, I don’t know what is.

So let’s be free of that.  Say it with me.  Free.

Forgiving a bully doesn’t mean you approve of bullying.
Forgiving a spouse doesn’t mean you approve of cheating.
Forgiving a company doesn’t mean you approve of bad service.
Forgiving yourself doesn’t mean you approve of your wasted youth.

and …

Forgiving Chris Brown doesn’t mean you approve of domestic violence.

If someone else wants to interpret it that way, then let them. Meanwhile, change the world around you through one act of forgiveness at a time. Chris Brown may very well be a bad man; I don’t know.  But I know forgiveness is a good thing.  Why?  Because it’s been pretty darn good to me.

And I’d rather go with something I know than something I don’t know.