"Let's Go Out to the Tree"

Bill Brinkworth

The argument became very heated. One red-faced teenager shouted at the other, “It’s your fault. You started it. You’re the one that …” On and on he blasted the other young man and proceeded to scream that it was the other’s fault.

Stopping his opponent mid-sentence, the other teen screamed back. He too stood his ground, “No, no. You’re the one that started it. You did …,” and on he went with his side of the story.

Back and forth the squabble went, each accusing the other. Neither backed down or tried understanding the other. Each figured, if they would get louder than the other, one would give in and back down; neither did. The predictable next step in the argument happened; nose to nose, one pushed the other.

“It’s a fight! Fight! Fight!” watching classmates announced to others, so they too could see the boy-against-boy confrontation.

“Alright,” I broke in doing the teacher thing. “Break it up. Break it up,” as I stepped in to separate the scrappers. “Alright. Who started it?”

The answer was exactly what you would expect, “He did,” explained one.

“No, he did,” retorted the other, and so the bickering continued.

It was obvious that the disagreement was nowhere near being solved. “Com’ on, boys. Let’s go out to the tree and talk,” I suggested. Off we went to separate the two from their on-looking peers and to hopefully solve the crisis, under the spreading branches of an old oak outside the classroom.

I let one tell his side of the story first, demanding the other keep quiet and just listen. He did well, except for some obvious body language; and then it was the other young man’s turn to tell his side of the story. After both sides were heard, it was quite clear that after the half-an-hour discussion ended, that not one of the boys was going to concede and do anything to remedy the problem. Neither was willing to forgive or forget.

Finally, I turned to the one, who usually was the most sensitive and understanding, and said, “Look, this is going nowhere. No one is willing to try to fix the situation. Someone has to go first, and try to smooth things out. Someone has to realize, that unless pride is forgotten and one does not worry about being right, this situation will not be solved. No one will win anything but hard feelings! Will you be the one to go first? Will you be the one to admit that perhaps you could have handled this a little better, and that this disagreement is not worth your being bitter at each other? It usually takes two to disagree.”

The boy thought about it, scuffed the dirt with his shoe, looked down and contemplated the situation. Finally, he saw that someone had to go first, unless he wanted this disagreement to never end. He did want it to be resolved. He looked the other boy in the eye, and said, “I am sorry this got out of hand. Yes, I should not have lost my temper ….”

The other, quickly followed suit. “Yea, I handled it wrongly, too. I shouldn’t have….” The wall of bitterness, pride, and selfishness had been broken down. Shortly, the two were talking and playing ball together like nothing had ever happened; all because one humbled himself and went first.

How many disagreements have never been gotten resolved, all because one never gave up their pride and had the courage to go first? One’s pride may have been preserved in not working out the problem, but what was gained? A friendship may have been lost or permanently weakened, and an unresolved bitterness grew and festered; all because one was waiting on the other to fix the controversy.

Relationships are not easy; be it between man and woman, parent and child, or between friends. There will come a time when there will be disagreements. How will they be handled? What does an unresolved conflict accomplish? Is one’s being right in a disagreement really worth the loneliness, the loss of friendship, the festering bitterness, and lack of trust for future relationships?

To resolve issues, someone usually has to go first and attempt to change the situation. Disagreements rarely resolve themselves.

It does not matter who did what in the end. One has to humble one’s self first. Many times, when one breaks the ice, the other will follow. When it comes down to it, all of us usually have done something wrong to have a disagreement ensuing.

In getting the matter right, it is not necessary to rehash how you have been wronged. That vicious circle will never end. It is time to admit your wrong in the situation. If we all look hard, there is usually something that we could have not said or handled differently in the confrontation. Start there in the restoration of a relationship. Do not be concerned with what the other did, but be concerned with what you did wrong. Get that part right with the other person, yourself, and the Lord. The other person may do the same thing and admit he was wrong. He may not. Our concern should only be that we do the right thing. We have to answer for ourselves, not others.

The Bible tells us that we should get matters resolved as quickly as possible (Ephesians 4:26). The longer they fester the more damage is done. I am sure there are many that are long past the time that they should be heading out to the old oak tree.

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:”
— Ephesians 4:26


This article was featured in The Bible View #259. 

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