Gossip, Judging, Redemption, Second Chances


Today I saw a man I don’t know anything about beyond one anecdote related to me a long time ago by a coworker. It involved him standing in the hall au naturel one morning when she dropped off her children for daycare. My friend felt he did it intentionally to intimidate her because he had been vocal about not wanting his wife to babysit. If that was his intent, he certainly succeeded.

Our houses aren’t near each other, but even if they were, after hearing the story, I had no interest in getting acquainted. However, I drive by his place every time I travel to or from home. Over the past 25 years, I’ve occasionally seen him in his yard or car, and you know what I think about when I do. I’ve often wished she hadn’t confided in me. 


As I passed him today, I asked myself if it was right to label the man as a brute or worse without knowing more about him. Maybe his streaking in front of her wasn’t intentional. Or if it were, perhaps he cringes when he remembers it now. You know that thing about living and learning.
I was also reminded that some people may automatically associate me with the sins of my youth. Those who knew me back then will remember I made some big mistakes. While I wish it weren’t the case, I realize some folks will always think of my worst failings first.
For those who don’t know my early history, in my teens, instead of going to college as I had planned, I stumbled into an unhappy marriage. When things got grim, my family and friends refused to define my children and me by my bone-headed mistakes. Instead, they rallied round and helped me get that education and a new start. (You know who you are. Thanks again for loving me into a better life.) 
The Really Good News is that I no longer define myself by past mistakes, nor do I bear any hard feelings toward that boy I married. We were just kids, and it was a lifetime ago. Perhaps that’s possible because when I came to understand my value in Christ, I realized He didn’t require me to prove myself or make up for past foolishness. When He forgives, He doesn’t bring it up again. We do that all by ourselves.
If you’re feeling like you’ve screwed up beyond hope or maybe someone you love is doing dumb things, be encouraged. God is a God of Second Chances and sometimes even third, fourth, and more. His power is available when we’re ready to get serious about our life choices. I’m living proof.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 
Isaiah 43:19