We were recently emailed this story by a friend, and it enthralled us. It is short and sweet but tells a powerful tale of humility, forgiveness, and love. We hope you enjoy.
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Once upon a time two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch.
Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded with bitter words followed by weeks of silence.
One morning there was a knock on John’s door. He opened it to find a man standing with a carpenter’s toolbox. “I’m looking for a few day’s work,”he said. “Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there that I could help with? Could I help you?â€
“Yes,”said the older brother. “I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That’s my neighbor. In fact, it’s my younger brother. Last week there was a meadow between us and he took a bulldozer to the river levee and now there’s a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll give him one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn?
“I want you to build me a fence — an eight-foot fence — so I won’t see his place or his face anymore,”said the older brother.
“The carpenter said, “Yes sir, I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.â€
The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all day…measuring, sawing, nailing.
About sunset, when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just about finished his job. The farmer’s eyes opened wide and his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge — a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other. It was a fine piece of work, handrails and all. And suddenly his neighbor, his younger brother, was coming towards the bridge, his hands outstretched.
“You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I have done.”
The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other’s hand. They turned to see the carpenter as he hoisted his toolbox to his shoulder. “Stop…wait…stay a few more days. I’ve a lot of other projects for you,”said the older brother.
“I’d love to stay on,”said the Carpenter, “but I have many more bridges to build.â€
Here’s our takeaway: We all get hurt by loved ones, and our natural reaction is to want to get even. “If you spited me, I will spite you back.” But where does that get any of us, really? Nowhere.
Do you have a relationship in your life that needs mending? If so, the wrong thing to do is to stay mad and be unwilling to make the first move. Instead, put your pride aside and reach out… it is the best move you can make. The worst that can happen? You make someone feel loved by your pursuit. The best? You restore a relationship.
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