a Barak & Sheba Article

Nails in the Fence...
Thursday June 25, 2020

This Story is not mine - Though I have read, heard, and told variations of it over the past 2 decades. I share it when I think it may be heard and understood. I think that now may be a good time to share it here.

Once upon a time there was a little boy. He was just like other children, but he frequently had a bad temper. When he got angry, he usually said, and often did, some very hurtful things. While in the midst of his angry moments, he seemed to have little regard for those around him. Even friends. So, naturally, he had few.

As he grew, his parents became concerned about this, and pondered long and hard about what they should do. Finally, the father had an idea. He sat with his son and gave him a task to help him with his anger. He gave him a bucket of nails, and a BIG hammer. “Whenever you lose your temper,” he told the boy, “I want you to really let it out. Just take a nail and drive it into the oak boards of that old fence out back. Hit that nail as hard as you can!”

Of course, those weathered oak boards in that old fence were almost as tough as iron, and the hammer was mighty heavy, so it wasn't nearly as easy as it first sounded. Nevertheless, by the end of the first day, the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence, as he was an angry young man. Gradually, over a period of weeks and months, the number dwindled down. Holding his temper proved to be easier than driving nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He felt proud as he told his parents about that accomplishment.

“As a sign of your success,” his father responded, “each day that you don't lose your temper even once, you get to PULL OUT one nail, and place it back in the bucket."

Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. The bucket filled slowly, as the nails were removed. Finally one day the young boy was able to report proudly that all the nails were back in the bucket.

At that point, the father asked his son to walk out back with him and take one more good look at the fence. “You have done well, my son,” he said. “But I want you to notice the holes that are left. No matter what happens from now on, this fence will never be the same. Saying or doing hurtful things in anger produces the same kind of result. There will always be a hole or a scar. It won't matter how many times you say you're sorry, or how many years pass, it will still be there."

"Remember, a verbal wound is as bad as a physical one. People are much more valuable than an old fence. They make us smile. They help us succeed. Some will even become friends who share our joys, and support us through bad times. And, if they trust us, they will also open their hearts to us. That means we need to treat everyone with love and respect. We need to prevent as many of those scars as we can.”

A most valuable lesson, don't you think? And a reminder most of us need from time to time. Everyone gets angry occasionally. The real test is what we DO with it.

If we are wise, we will spend our time sharing love, kindness, joy, and compassion, rather than pounding holes and creating scars with our words and deeds.

Peace to you and yours,
Barak (& Sheba)

©2020 Barak & Brat Sheba

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