Eleven-year-old Jason was outside on a sunny Saturday afternoon. While there were many things that Jason enjoyed, among his favorites was baseball. He always seemed to have a ball, glove and bat with him wherever he went.
On this particular afternoon he was in his yard tossing a ball in the air and hitting it with his bat. Everyone else was busy in the house and he was enjoying some time to himself, pretending he was his favorite baseball player about to hit a home run to win the game.
This time, as he threw the ball up into the air, he made particularly solid contact. The ball took a path over the corner of the house toward the driveway. While he thought he had moved far enough away to be out of danger of hitting his parent’s vehicles, the crash that followed a moment later told him that was not the case.
As he ran to see what the damage was, he was hoping that it was nothing more than a dent or a broken headlight. As he rounded the corner of the house, his heart sank and his fear rose. Standing before him was his father’s pick-up truck, which was now missing a large portion of the windshield.
“Oh no,” Jason thought, “Dad’s going to kill me!” He quickly tried to figure out what to do. He was sure that telling his dad what had happened was not the way to go. That would only make matters worse and he would probably be grounded until next summer.
Thinking quickly, he ran to the truck, retrieved the ball and scampered with ball and bat to the back yard where he had left his equipment bag. “Maybe if I get everything out of sight in time Dad won’t believe it was me.” He thought.
Just as he was getting his stuff put away, he heard the sound he most dreaded.
“Jason, come here!” came the call from his father
As Jason made his way to the front of the house again, he thought about what he should say. “I’ll just pretend I don’t know what happened,” he thought, “That will work better than trying to invent a story.”
“What happened here?” His father asked as soon as he rounded the corner of the house. He was standing on the porch just outside the door, a hard look on his face and his hands on his hips.
“I don’t know, Dad.” Jason said, a lump forming in his throat. “What could have done that?” The words were harder to bring out than they seemed in his thoughts just a moment ago.
His father stood there, looking at him, not saying a word. Jason could tell he was seeing right through him and his decision to lie was looking worse with each passing moment. “But what else could I have done?”
“Son, we both know that you aren’t telling me the truth.” His father said. “It is written all over your face.”
He pulled a small box out of his pocket. It fit in the palm of his hand and had a small green button in the center of it.
“I am going to give you something my father gave me when I was a boy,” He said. “This is a repeat button. It will only work for a person once. After that, it is nothing more than a box. It will move you back in time five minutes and give you the opportunity to fix a mistake that you have made.” As he handed the box to Jason, he said: “I think now would be a good time for you to use it.”
Jason thought about it a moment. “Maybe if I use it and tell the truth, everything will be fine and I won’t be in trouble.” He took the box and with a look at his father, pressed the green button.
Instantly, Jason was next to the shattered windshield of the truck, but his father was nowhere to be found. He knew what he needed to do.
“Dad!” He called as he headed for the door. “I need to show you something!”
As his father came out, he looked at the truck, then at Jason.
“What happened here?” He asked.
“I was playing baseball in the yard,” Jason explained, “and when I hit the ball last time it came down over the corner of the house and hit the windshield. It was an accident, Dad, I promise!”
His father heaved a big sigh. “I believe you, son.” He said slowly. After thinking for a moment he added, “It’s going to take a few weeks of extra chores and service projects to equal the payment for a new windshield, but I’m very thankful you told me the truth this time.”
Jason’s relief evaporated at his father’s last statement. “What do you mean, ‘this time?’”
“What I didn’t tell you,” his father said, “is that anyone present when the button is pushed goes back in time as well, but just like you, they remember what happened before.”
“So why the punishment?” Jason asked, starting to get angry. “Didn’t I do what you wanted me to do?”
“Yes, you did son, but that does not negate the consequences that come with your actions.” His father sat down on the steps of the porch and he patted the step next to him for his son to sit as well. “You are receiving the consequence, not because you lied the first time, but because you broke the windshield and there are consequences to damages caused, even if it was only an accident.”
“So what good did it do me to tell the truth?” Jason asked.
“For starters, I can guarantee that you would have had a far more severe punishment if you had gotten away with the lie initially and I found out the truth later. But more importantly,” his father continued, “the value of what you did in telling the truth is that you retained my respect and my trust.”
“Those two things do not come easily, nor are they easily put back together once they are broken.” He looked at me and softly said, “There are two things nobody can ever take from you, but you can give them away at any time: your honor and your integrity. Once you give them away, it is almost impossible to get them back, and they will never have their original strength again.”
“The most important thing is that I know you can make the right decisions,” his father said, putting his arm around Jason’s shoulder. “But you need to understand something: that repeat button I gave you will never work again. From here on out, you have to make the right decision the first time. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir.” Replied Jason.
“I love you, son, and I want you to do what is right;” his father said, “but you also must learn that there are consequences for your actions, even when you weren’t trying to cause harm.”
“Yes, sir.” Jason said again.
“So, which do you want as your first chore:” his dad said with a small smile, “mowing the yard or cleaning the shed?”