Geoffrey and I had a fight today. I wanted to go to the pond, and he wanted to go hunt rabbits. I got mad and called him mean names. Then I picked up my ball and went to the pond without him. His feelings got hurt, and he went home.
Geoffrey is my best friend. Even when I’m mad at him, I still love him. Now that he’s at home and I can’t play with him, I feel really bad. I’m sorry I got mad. I’m really sorry I hurt him.
It’s said that we hurt the ones we love much more than those we barely know. The good news is, if you’ve hurt someone you love, you can do your best to fix it. You can say you’re sorry. You can take responsibility for your part in the situation. But that’s only the beginning.
There’s a story about a boy who lost his temper a lot. He would scream and yell mean things at whoever was nearby. Frustrated at his son’s behavior, his father gave him a big hammer and a box of nails and told the boy to go out into the back yard and hammer nails into the wood fence whenever he felt angry. The boy went through box after box of nails over the next few weeks, venting his anger on the fence.
Then one day his dad told him to pull all the nails out of the fence. While doing so, the boy noticed that there were a lot of holes in the fence from where the nails had been. The boy’s father told him, “son, the words you say to people are like putting nails in the fence. You can vent your anger and make yourself feel better in the moment. You can cool off and apologize to those you hurt, just like you pulled the nails out of the fence. But the person you yelled at will always have those holes you created with your words.”
Have you hurt someone lately? I’m sure you didn’t mean to. The next time you start to yell at someone or hurt someone with your angry words, remember… even if you apologize later, the damage will remain.
I’m going to apologize to Geoffrey. And I’m never going to call him names again. I don’t want to create any more “holes” in his “fence.”