Posted by on January 9, 2013

Brass DoorknobWhen my kids were little, I used to let them have “do-overs.” It was an opportunity to go back and correct a behavior. We only did it a few times. Something always nagged me about do-overs. They really don’t exist. Maybe that sounds harsh, but it’s a hard reality that once a word’s been said, it’s out there. Once a lie’s been told it can’t easily be untold, even if you fess up. And once you’ve made fun of someone, you can’t really take it back.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a great supporter of forgiveness and second chances and third chances and fourth chances, etc., but I’m also a fan of the truth, and if the truth is that “so and so” hurts my feelings with his careless words, and he does it a lot, then a do-over doesn’t fix that. The whole sowing and reaping thing is healthy and right. If a person sows meanness, sarcasm, irresponsibility, and rejection, then the healthy result would be for that person to experience the consequences of his actions—confrontation, separation, etc. 

I suppose the closest we can get to an actual do-over is when we acknowledge and take responsibility for our actions and tell the other person that we understand what we did was wrong and how we hurt them. Even if it’s ourselves we have hurt, being honest about the mistake and our own weakness is a good place to begin to change. And change is possible. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen someone find their way and acknowledge their part in a problem, and I’ve been amazed by their transformation. 

We all do and say things we wish we could take back. The people closest to me are keenly aware of my ability to stick my foot in my mouth, laugh at the wrong time, and not follow through on something. It’s sad, but true. And as much as I’d like to just say a quick “sorry” and move on, most of the time that’s not enough for them or me. But still they love me. 

So what are your thoughts? Is giving someone a do-over separate from forgiveness and love, or is it wrapped up in them? When do you stop giving do-overs and leave the relationship? Have you ever witnessed someone drastically change when faced with the consequences of their actions? What do you think about do-overs?

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