Is It Really Broken?

Updated: Mar 27, 2021

For some, my thoughts on this might be a touchy subject. But my purpose is neither to offend or upset you the reader. It simply an honest reflection of something I recently witnessed. It all started with a photo, a bistro, my brother, his family, and my dad.

Now what struck me was what came before this moment, of the years it took to arrive as a scene with so many smiling faces. Face filled with genuine joy and love. One face, in particular, had the brightest smile of all. That face was none other than my 8-month-old niece.

To explain the importance of what this picture means to me, I have to take you back. To another time and place about 24 years ago now. A time where the smiles were less and the arguments were common. A time when I would witness the fights between my brother and dad on an almost constant basis. Where words spoken in anger cut both deeply.

I watched my dad cry and my brother fume. There were also moments when it was the other wya around. Sometimes, I'd have to step between them before things got out of hand. As time on though, the relationship grew more strained and the wounds deepened.

I say none of this to deride to demean anyone. It’s not my intention to paint a negative picture of the parties involved. My only intent is to explain how even the most broken, or strained, of relationships can be mended. That the word impossible is only possible because most people refuse to come back to the table to discuss their grievances.

Now in the use of the word relationship, I don’t simply mean the person lying next to you each night. It could be a family member or friend too. Even in the use of the word friend, I don’t mean in the casual sense either. I mean in the sense of a person you love and trust completely.

I also am not here saying I condone abuse in any form. If you need to get out, then by all means do. Again, I am simply saying that restoration isn’t impossible, but there are hurdles to overcome. Both parties have to be able to come together.

I remember reading a story a long time ago. There were two men, they were as close as brothers, perhaps they even were brothers, I don’t remember clearly. But circumstances drove a wedge between them and the relationship they had. For years after they feuded to the post to where hatred turned to thoughts murder. Then after years when they were old, one of them realized that it was all foolishness. That he had wasted so much time and energy allowing the wedge to create a chasm between himself and his friend.

So at the risk of being hospitalized he took a step and went to see his friend. The only thing he had with him was a bucket full of small stones. He was terrified because he knew he might not come back from this visit healthy and whole.

When his friend saw him, all he could see was the bitterness that had festered for so long in his friend’s eyes. In that moment he knew this foolishness had to end. SO he courageously set the bucket between them:

“What is that?!” his friend asked harshly.

“A bucket of grievance,” the man replied. “I want to end this. It’s been going on for too long.”

His friend eyed him suspiciously. It was obvious he thought it was yet again another trick.

“What do you intend to do with this bucket?” he asked.

Holding his hands up, to show he had no ill intention, the man stepped closer to the bucket and grabbed one of the small stones. “Remember that time you slashed my tires?” he asked.

His friend nodded.

The man immediately tossed the small stone aside and said, “I don’t anymore.”

“What if we run out of stones?” his friend asked, understanding flashing in his eyes.

The man smiled. “Then we will find more.”

I think looking back at the photo, it still amazes me at how far my brother and dad have come. To me, it’s a small miracle. But I also think that it means it’s possible for people to reconcile, no matter how bad it was between them. Sometimes it takes time for the wounds to heal or a single step.

At other moments it takes outside help, but ultimately the only impossibility that really exists is if people can’t sit at the same table to toss the stones out of the bucket. What comes after is up for them to decide. Life is too short to stay angry and hate someone forever. I was recently reminded of this.

I have a few stones of my own to cast aside if I want to move forward.

Reconciling doesn’t mean you have to be around the person or continue to hang with them. It simply means closing a door or wound. It’s a way to move on and put what happened behind you. Again, not trying to offend or step on toes, just sharing my thoughts. I hope this helps some of you.


Matt Brown

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