Just a Little Pop


So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.
(Matthew 5:23, 24)

Back in March when I was babysitting my grandsons, I popped two-and-a-half year old Declan on the butt to get his attention because he was stuck in a tantrum. I got his attention and he stopped. In his little mind he didn’t understand where I was coming from. He got unstuck from his tantrum, but got stuck in the pop.
Before that, Declan and I were good friends. But now he decided in his secret heart he didn’t want to be my friend anymore. Then in May, during our family vacation, my son Daniel respectfully suggested I apologize to Declan, lest he stay stuck in the pop for the rest of his life and not even remember why.
I thought it seemed illogical and unjust for me to apologize for what he needed. But our friendship was broken.
So after praying and thinking about it I said,
“Declan, do you remember when I popped you on the bottom?”
“Well, I’m really sorry. Can you forgive me?”
“Can we be friends again?”
We shook hands.
I feel like such a klutz at life—there’s so much I don’t understand. So often it’s more important for me to be right than to have a good relationship.

Where is that line between right and wrong? I don’t know.
My parents fought a lot when I was growing up. I mean a lot, to the point of Dad punching Mom and Mom swallowing whole bottles of sleeping pills. Often when they fought, it felt like they were linking the fight back to something that started way back somewhere. I often thought, If they could just go back to what started this and clear I up, they wouldn’t fight anymore.
Maybe it was a little incident.
Maybe it was a silly misunderstanding.
Whatever it was, I imagined it was probably very tiny, compared to all the damage it was causing.
I wonder if this is what causes not only marriages to fail, but wars between nations, murders, and racial conflicts.
Just a little pop. Something pops inside my head, I don’t tell anyone, and the next thing I know, our lives are falling apart.
Jesus said if I sense someone has something against me, go make it right.
But it was just a little pop. She had it coming.
Weigh it against eternity. Weigh it against Jesus’ words. Maybe I was “right.” Maybe it was just a little pop. But it triggered a bomb inside the other person’s heart. If God’s whispering to you, “Go be reconciled,” then go. Diffuse the bomb and undo the damage.

Phillip Cohen