Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop. When the wind blows, the cradle will rock. When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and down will come baby, cradle, and all.
In an intriguing parallel, the nursery rhyme “Rock-a-bye Baby” subtly mirrors the dynamics of conflict between individuals. The delicate image of a baby in a treetop cradle, lulled by the wind, sharply transforms when the branch breaks and the cradle falls. This sudden descent can be seen as an allegory for the rupture within relationships, where once-sturdy branches of understanding or trust give way to collapse. Much like the unsuspecting baby, individuals within a conflict can find themselves in a precarious position, teetering on the edge before an abrupt descent into discord. This was me recently – I was that baby.
I am a certified mediator – going on 16 years. I have assisted hundreds of professionals to maneuver through their differences and find common ground, yet when I found myself in conflict with a co-worker, I was unable to apply the proven techniques of conflict resolution to our situation. Like so many of my clients, I dug my heels in – unwilling to acknowledge the interests of the other. I grew distant and passive. I ignored the situation in hopes it would go away. I even looked for another job. These are classic flight responses to conflict and deep down, I knew my reaction was unhealthy, but I could not loosen my prideful grip.
One morning, during my quiet time with God, I stumbled across Philippians 4:2-3 where it is written that the Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Philippi, pleads for the reconciliation of two women, Euodia and Syntyche. Not much is known about these two women, but Scripture suggests they were instrumental in aiding in the establishment of the Philippian church. Paul implores them to work in harmony and calls upon others to help them to keep cooperating for the sake of the gospel’s progression. While there is no other mention of these two ladies or the conflict that entangled them, it is clear that discord had entered their relationship and it needed repairing.
God purposefully placed those verses in my path. I knew He was asking me to repair the broken branch between me and my co-worker. I was not thrilled, but I committed myself to being obedient. I knew I would need assistance, so I fervently prayed for humility and strength. God faithfully answered my prayer and with His help, we were able to identify the root cause of our conflict and repair our relationship.
Repairing a fractured relationship is like tending to a broken branch. In both instances, the process demands a nuanced approach, a careful examination of the damage, and a commitment to restoration. Consider the following approach to branch repair and its parallel to mending strained relationships:
- Assess the damage: Examine the extent of the break and the health of the remaining branch. Understand the points of strain in the relationship and identify the areas that demand attention.
- Cut away damaged and jagged edges: Intentional removal of jagged, damaged branches eliminates the weakened or dead components that jeopardize the well-being of the whole. In relationships, this involves letting go of lingering resentments, harmful behaviors, or misunderstandings that contributed to the fracture.
- Apply pruning sealant: Just as a sealant shields a wounded tree branch from further damage, the process of healing in relationships involves acknowledging the frustration and pain, sealing emotional wounds, and creating a protective space for growth. In the context of human connections, this might manifest as open communication, genuine apologies, and a commitment to understanding and empathy.
- Seek Support: Repaired branches often need support, such as braces or stakes, to secure them. The same applies to repaired relationships. Seeking counsel, whether from professional guidance, friends, or family provides the necessary scaffold for the healing of strained connections.
- Monitor and maintain: Mended branches need to be nurtured. Ensuring they receive proper care such as water, feed, and fertilizer will aid in their restoration. Likewise, relationships flourish when nurtured with love, understanding, and shared experiences. The balance between protection and allowing room for expansion becomes the essence of sustaining both a mended branch and a mended relationship. The journey of healing is not a destination but an ongoing, intentional commitment.
Addressing conflict is difficult, however, Scripture tells us that God expects us to love one another and nurture our relationships. Each step of obedience we take toward restoring harmony among others, the closer we become at being more like Christ.
Philippians 4:2-3 – Amplified Bible
I entreat and advise Euodia, and I entreat and advise Syntyche to agree and to work in harmony in the Lord. 3And I exhort you too, [my] genuine yokefellow, help these women [to keep on cooperating], for they have shared my struggle in the [cause of the] gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.
Matthew 5:9 – Amplified Bible
Blessed are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they will [express His character and] be called the sons of God.
Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this same attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus [look to Him as your example in selfless humility]
Dear Lord, amid the conflicts that arise in our lives, we humbly come before You seeking Your guidance, wisdom, and grace. You are the ultimate source of reconciliation and healing, and we trust in your unfailing love to help us navigate through the breakdowns in our relationships. Grant us the strength to confront our conflicts with humility, acknowledging our faults and seeking forgiveness where needed. We surrender our conflict to You, trusting that with Your help, we can emerge from conflict stronger, more compassionate, and deeply connected.