Friday, October 16, 2009

Second Chances

I think it must be a common experience to want a second chance…a “do over”, if you will. Years ago when I did a little golfing, we called it a “mulligan”. When your drive off the tee was less than acceptable (even embarrassing), you got to do it over…once for a round of 18 holes. How many times in other situations have you wished for a mulligan?

I just had a situation recently where I got a “do over”, and I am very grateful. I had just gone on a wild goose chase over a potential Craigslist purchase. The seller had grossly misrepresented the condition of the item I had hoped to purchase, which I discovered only after driving clear across town in the rain, during the late afternoon traffic. I was irritated, both at the seller who had been given multiple opportunities to be forthright, and at myself for having made such a rookie Craigslist mistake. I was also getting irritated with several other drivers who had made poor driving decisions which not only slowed me down, but created a dangerous situation for those of us driving nearby.

On the way home, it seemed like I was hitting every single traffic light just as it was changing from amber to red. And most were at large intersections, where the light cycles are about 3 minutes long. With each delay, I was getting more irritated over having made the trip at all. As I approached the next light with good hopes of making it through, the light changed on me at the last minute. Had no one been in front of me, I would have sailed through on the amber. However, the car in front of me (wisely!) chose to stop. As soon as I saw the brake lights, my first thought was, “I’ve missed enough lights, so maybe YOU’RE not making this light, but I AM!” I (unwisely!) decided to move into the right lane, pass him on the right, and make it through the amber light. (Can you see where this is going?) Yep…there was another car in the right lane (in my blind spot) with the same idea. He sped up to make the light. Believe me when I say it was a close one!

But…I got my mulligan! I was able to swerve back into my own lane, and apply the brakes in time to stop at the light without ramming into the guy I had intended to pass. There was fishtailing. A fair amount of rubber was left on the road. And I’m sure that my heart was not the only one racing. The result of my hasty decision could have been disastrous. I believe the Lord protected me from my own foolishness that day, and a couple of lessons were quickly learned. First, don’t be so quick to get irritated at others when they make a foolish driving decision. Second, slow down when you realize that emotions are causing you to drive with less caution than you normally would.

My “do-over” was a valuable learning experience. We don’t always get them. Whether it’s driving, or at work, or with relationships, we can’t ever count on a mulligan. Good enough reason to do it right the first time!

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