Several years ago I was listening to a song titled, “Which to Bury; Us or the Hatchet?”
I had heard the phrase “bury the hatchet” before but had never really thought about what it meant. To “bury the hatchet” with someone these days means that two individuals or groups try to put away the bitter past, release all grudges and move on with forgiveness and friendship.
This phrase originated with the Native Americans in a similar context, only with warring tribes. Upon a settlement of conflict, the chiefs would both literally bury a hatchet as a symbol of their promise of peace. The hatchet symbolized the grudge or yearning for vengeance that we as humans often hold when we cannot or will not forgive one another.
We all have our hatchets—grudges, conflicts, hurts and bitterness—at times in this life (and if not, then well done!). If you’re like me, you don’t often want to bury your hurt feelings—you want revenge!
The trouble with human nature and the carnal or sinfully selfish mind is that even when we try to bury the hatchet, we don’t often bury it completely. Sometimes we leave the handle sticking out of the ground—just in case. If that handle still sticks out in plain sight, when moments of weakness or bitterness occur. we will likely pull that weapon up to continue fighting our emotional war. Though we think that we can axe our way to happiness, we will only hurt ourselves and others in the long run.
Why is it so hard for us to let things go? Our culture certainly doesn’t help. Some of the top pop culture songs have told us we have a right to be upset, shouldn’t let things go and that the world is against us.
“What Goes Around Comes Around” is a song about a man getting satisfaction from watching a woman who hurt him get hurt in a similar manner. The recent song “Apologize” declares in the chorus, “It’s too late to apologize.” These songs don’t leave room for the thought of burying the hatchet because they are so full of anger, hurt and the relentless pursuit of revenge to satisfy grudges.
Why should it have to be “too late to apologize”?
Our kind Creator teaches that it’s not too late. He not only tells us to forgive others as He forgives us, but He also tells us how to bury the hatchet.
First, Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother” (Matthew 18:15). Just privately, calmly talk it out—how good is that!
Finally, don’t let the sun go down on your wrath. Letting things boil up inside only compounds the anger until it feels too late to apologize and bury that hatchet!
For help with restoring and maintaining your relationships, read the Vertical Thought article “Making Peace.”
To have better, stronger friendships and family bonds—and a lot more joy in your life—dig a deep hole and bury the hatchet completely!