Here we are at another Wednesday. Time to turn to the People of the Second Chance's poster series, Never Beyond. I will admit that it has been a trying week and I have not been looking forward to writing this post. It has nothing to do with this week's supposed villain. It has to do with how much of a villain I have been this week. I have had little patience for people these last seven days. I have not felt like giving a second chance to anyone. The redeeming feature here is that I have (mostly) been able to keep my mouth shut and not spout out all of the unkind thoughts running through my head. I think what is happening is a combination of me feeling more ungracious than usual and also being more aware of it now that I have jumped right into working with People of the Second Chance. God evidently intends to make sure that this is not just an academic exercise for me!
So let's jump in! The subject of this week's POTSC poster is Mike Tyson.
It has been quite awhile since I thought about him. Never one to follow boxing, and only somewhat interested in pop culture, he has been off my radar. I actually sort of wondered why he even made it into the Never Beyond series, and then I read the brief summary POTSC had posted of his life. He has not been an angel, that is for sure. He was just never one of my personal villains.
God must have liked the idea of using Mike Tyson for this week's subject because He was moving in Mike's life at the same time. A few nights ago, when the poster first came out, somebody checked Tyson's Twitter feed and found that he had written about people deserving second chances. I replied to him and said he could have several second chances from me. What? That was quick. Did I even stop to think about who I was giving second chances to?
Let me think about this for a minute. I know that Mike Tyson has not always been a sportsman-like competitor, but not being the competitive sort myself, I find it hard to identify here. Sure, he bit off part of Holyfield's ear, but men usually have big ears anyway. Didn't Holyfield have some he could spare for Mike? ;)
So let's move on to a different part of Tyson's resume. Convicted rapist. Accused domestic abuser. That should hit home for most women. Rape? I've never been raped, but I have experienced many things as an adult that fall into the range of sexual abuse. I was also molested as a child. Domestic abuse? I have been hit with a fist once. I've also been thrown up against a wall. I am so sensitive about these things that I can never watch them re-enacted in a movie or on TV. (This brings on fights at home. "It's just a movie!" "Too bad, bucko, nobody needs to dump more of that into their mind.") Do I want to give a man, who has done things like what has been done to me, a second chance?
I used to volunteer as part of our local Sexual Assault Response Team. My role was to meet a rape victim at the hospital (usually in the middle of the night), give her reassurance, give her clothes (hers were collected as evidence), give her a teddy bear, and let her know what type of services were available to her. We did not want her to ever feel alone in the process. My very first time being called out, I had to tell a father of six daughters that his oldest had been raped. Just by chance, I was between that father and the door. If I had not quickly explained that the suspect was already in custody, he probably would have plowed straight through me and gone on a hunt. It is safe to say that none of us in that room that night was thinking about second chances for the rapist. Why now?
I think the deciding factor for me at this point is that Mike Tyson asked for a second chance. He knows he has been wrong many times. He is not trying to blow it off or hide it. He is sorry. He has asked for forgiveness and he wants to try again.
Just in the short time since POTSC unveiled the Never Beyond campaign, I have come to see that it is so much easier to extend grace to those who sincerely ask for forgiveness. And it is easier to give a second chance to someone that you don't know - someone you don't have to be vulnerable with. The real challenge comes with those people who have not asked for forgiveness - the ones who don't even think they need a second chance. It is so much more challenging when the person we need to see as never beyond grace is standing there holding a fragile piece of your heart. They probably won't ever show up in a poster series, but I've got a long list of these challenging people. God is really working me on this. So...