Mom sighed and opened the back door. Jenny was crying and rubbing her face.
"What happened?" Mother asked.
Sobbing, Jenny pointed at a soccer ball on the lawn. "I was so mad at Nancy, I threw my ball down really hard and it bounced back up and hit me in the face!"
"Oh dear." Mom sat on the steps and pulled Jenny onto her lap. "I think there's a good lesson in this. I once heard a story about a man who was bitten by a rattlesnake. What would you do if you were bitten by a rattlesnake?"
"I don't know," Jenny replied.
"You're supposed to stay until help comes," said Jenny's older brother, who had just arrived on his bike.
"Well, in this case," Mom continued, "the man was so angry at the snake that he ran after it and chased it until he killed it. The problem was that running caused the poison from the snake to spread faster through his body, so he died quickly. If he had remained calm, the poison would have not done as much damage, and he could have received help and lived."
Jenny rubbed her red cheek. "So are you saying that when we get mad, we only hurt ourselves?"
Mother nodded. "Why do you think God wants us to forgive others when they do something to hurt us or make us mad?"
"So we can show love to them?" Jenny guessed.
"That's part of it. God wants us to do everything we can to help others grow and improve. But He also wants us to forgive others because He knows that if we don't, we only hurt ourselves. It hurts us deep inside, like venom, and the wound keeps getting bigger and bigger if we don't stop it. Sometimes people get so hurt and angry inside that it makes them do bad things they originally wouldn't do."
"Like banging the ball really hard," Jenny said.
"That's right. And sometimes the hurt inside keeps people from doing good things they would normally do. It keeps them from being close to God."
Jenny was thinking hard now. "Maybe I'm ready to think about a solution for the diary."
"I'm glad," Mother replied. "God loves you very much. He wants you to be happy."
Jenny's face brightened. With a big smile, she went off to look for Nancy.