I heard this story a long time ago, but it seemed so relevant to what we see and hear in our world today that I wanted to share it with you. You may have heard it before, but it never hurts to read it again. The author is unknown. Here it goes:
There once was a little boy who had a very bad temper. One day his father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he would have to hammer a nail into the top rail of the backyard fence. By the end of the first day, the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails daily hammered into the fence kept dwindling down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than having to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally, the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and his father was very happy. But he knew the boy’s learning was not yet over. So he told him to now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. Many, many days passed and eventually, the young lad was glad to tell his father that all the nails were now gone.
That’s when the father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He told him, “You have done well, my son, but look at all the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. You see, each time you get angry and say bad things to a person, it’s like driving a nail into them. And no matter how many times you try to pull the nail out by apologizing and saying you’re sorry, the wound is still there.”
The little boy then understood how powerful a person’s words are. So he looked up at this father and said: “I hope you can forgive me father for all the holes I put in you.” “Of course I can,, ” said the father.
“It’s not always anger, it is your actions in general. There are no ‘fresh starts’ in life that get rid of all the scars we’ve caused. There is no new beginning that wipes them out of everybody’s memory. Forgiveness may come easy for many people but the scars of the past, they never go away. Watch what you do today because sometimes the hurt you cause is not worth the payoff you want to feel for doing so.”
You may be like me. I can still remember, after all these years, hurtful things that were said to me in anger, and injurious things I said to others in response. That’s because the scars are still there. But rather than letting those scars rekindle the negative emotions that were felt at the time, let them remind us to be more careful when we feel hostility and anger growing in our hearts and minds. Remember, Jesus has scars in His hands, feet, and side, but He used them as evidence before His disciples that He loved them that much. And as He stands next to His heavenly Father advocating on our behalf, all the Father has to see are those scars and that’s enough for Him to offer us forgiveness. Why can’t we do the same for others, what He has done for us? – Dr. Robert R Seyda