There’s no shame in a second chance – a nugget of beautiful, redemptive wisdom I wish I had known on my own wedding day. ‘tis ok, though. I knew it today, January 30, 2010, as another second chance couple began their life together.

Second chance weddings tend to come with clouds and shadows and in the case of mine, absent friends and relatives who didn’t agree that grace covers mistakes. Rod and I are about to celebrate our seventh anniversary. We just celebrated our third anniversary of being parents together. And this year, we begin the ‘career’ of full time ministry together.

I am here to tell you, second chances rock.

On my own wedding day, though, I was apprehensive. I thought for sure that in a crowd of 100 – considerably fewer people than what I had envisioned but still, you know, a pretty significantly-sized Inner Circle – someone was there putting the evil eye (an ancient Italian curse) on us. I was sure that some were looking at my beautiful, flowy white ‘angel’ dress and thinking of another a-word. I was sure that dark forces were placing wagers on how long we would last.

Maybe some of that was true. I don’t know. I am just happy that nearly seven years later, I don’t care.

Today Rod stood up as best man in the wedding of his fairly new friend Eric. It was not Eric’s first wedding. It was the first wedding for April, the bride. She walked down the aisle to “Bless the Broken Road.” Eric cried. So did I. The Ozark  mountains were covered with snow and visible from every glass wall of the Stonegate Chapel. It was a vividly tangible sign of a new beginning.

At our wedding, my friend Stacy read my favorite verse in the whole world: Isaiah 43:19. She also read a little something I wrote about it…expounding on how God is the God of new things. It’s not only a promise I cling to, but a mantra I live by. Every year of our marriage has been filled with surprises – some challenging, some victorious. I welcome new things – new food, new friends, new places, new projects, new kids! Bring it.

I love that the Bible teaches us to embrace the new. It talks about the sea of forgetfulness. It talks about Jesus making all things new. It talks about beauty from ashes. In a nutshell, people do stupid, sucky things sometimes, but when they sincerely work to turn them around, when they fully turn to God to help them, they are given a second chance, a new thing.

It’s bewildering, appalling, maddening to me when other recipients of grace – commonly known as Christians – don’t embrace those teachings, when they decide that it only applies to the imaginary ‘minior’ sins they have categorized in their safe little worlds.

As a married person, the idea of divorce is also appalling to me, but I live in a world of foolish decisions and imperfect people. And those to whom it happens don’t have to be punished for the rest of their lives. Nor do they have to sit on the sidelines. God calls them and uses them and blesses them and gives them a new chance.

As I witnessed the small, intimate, and personalized wedding of Eric and April tonight, my eyes were not only on them, but on the bride’s parents. I doubt that a second-chance wedding was the very first dream they had for their daughter’s future. As a s/mama of three girls, I’m betting no. For my girls, I have very specific hopes about virgin brides who meet their respective brain surgeon/district attorney/British professor husbands some time in grad school and settle down contently after visiting Europe and Asia and living on their own for a few years. However, like my own amazing mom and dad, April’s parents shone only with love and support and pride for their daughter and their new son and their somewhat unconventional nuptials (ours included sung vows and a fajita dinner, theirs included a mini-concert by their new gospel group [Hinson Revival]).

As I caught the eye of my own groom, today the dashing best man and very good friend to the groom, I knew he was thinking and feeling what I was. What second-chance couple hears those lyrics – “Every long lost dream led me to where you are” – and doesn’t embrace that nugget of wisdom?:

Believing in second chances is a good thing.