Mark was sitting on the sidewalk, had his arm extended and an empty plastic cup, hoping that people will donate some change. I approached him and put a couple of dollars in his cup and asked him: “what is your story, why are you here?”
“Well, I have a part time job, I work 16 to 24 hours a week, I began at $7 and now I make $14, yet it is not enough for me to subsist. So I come here to get some extra cash before going to work,” he responded.
We built a great understanding, and sat together for 30 minutes. As a young man he made plenty of wrong decisions, had kids too early in his life, was jailed several times for stealing cars and drugs. Today at 59, he has 2 grown up kids and 4 grandchildren, for the past 7 years he has held the same job and stayed away from trouble with the police and drugs for even a longer time.
“I pay rent and also help my daughter with her kids, so my income is too little to survive,” he commented.
I asked him: “can you stand on your feet for 8 hours, can I trust you, can I count on you, should I risk it with you?”
He immediately replied: “yes, yes and yes; I am a strong man and if you give me the chance, you would not be disappointed… I just need another chance”
Before I left, I took out a little more money and put it in his cup, he looked at it got up and said: “I am done, I made enough for lunch and the bus to go to work.”
This dialogue kept me awake thinking:
How many times have I messed up, how many times I have been in a similar or a closer situation that Mark is in today; how many times I have been in a situation where I had woken up in the morning hoping that I could stay in bed all day wishing for an ‘undo’ key to erase it all.
So, here is my thought:
We all have messed up, we all have made wrong decisions and we all have regrets, and not one of us has an undo key.
First, we need to understand where we went wrong, how did we manage to screw up and then have the courage to admit that what we did was wrong. Forgive yourself, learn from it and focus on repairing the situation. Then, make the commitment to do better in the future, and let that guilt walk away. If we cannot forgive ourselves we will be paralyzed in our current state of being and never have the second chance.
At the same time, if you feel ashamed hold on to that, next time when temptation comes knocking, and it will; remember who we were and why we don't want to be that person again.
Now, when you are ready, don’t be afraid to reach out and say I am ready for change, help me get there; sometimes we cannot move from our frozen state with out help.
Mark has made plenty of wrong decisions and has paid dearly for it. Yet, for over 7 seven years he has managed to turn his life and now he only needs one more push, a little help.
This morning he got the little push that he hoped for, he met with our director of operations and he is ready to begin training in our company. From now on he must understand that this is the most that I can do for him; the door is open and it is his job to keep it open. He got the rope, he can run with it or he can hang himself with it; it is his decision only!
We all have made wrong decisions, we all have screwed up, even so, we all deserve a second chance, another opportunity like the one that I had!