In pursuit of baffling peace in our relationships, we are looking at four practical principles present here in Philippians 4:2-5... (Peter piper, say that line 10x fast. Ha!)
We'll start with the first one today:
1. Seek Mediation if Needed:
“I ask you also to help these women…” (Philippians 4:3a)
In this context, over 2,000 years ago... Euodia and Syntyche were at odds and help was needed. In my context, on a weekly - if not daily basis...my daughters, Charis (3) and DeCelie (4), are at odds and help is needed.
“I had it first.”
“No, I had it first!”
DeCelie snarls and Charis screams. It’s quite the scene. Tug-a-war mayhem ensues.
“Do you need an attorney?” I ask.
I see their heads racing. I can sense how their bellies must burn with the resistant sting that rises when faced with the decision to choose humility. *They know my question means they will need to “pay me” for my “legal services” so they are learning to choose wisely more often. Thank the Lord, (and thank you, author, Dan Silk, for the creative mediation idea).
Sometimes they choose to “pay” for "legal counsel" by neglecting to choose...and sometimes they settle it together on their own:
“You have a turn, then I’ll have a turn”
“Okay. Thanks DeCelie. Alright, now let’s go to the (name the always changing imaginary place of the hour here)”
And off they venture, like nothing ever happened...
I wish we adults could be as quick to settle our differences and move forward together. But it usually takes us awhile to get there. We often default to fight or flight mode and get stuck. Often times it’s hard to be heard while also truly seeking to understand the other person. Maybe all of our sincere attempts at communication keep backfiring. So after first trying to properly address things with the one person it involves, you might need to prayerfully pursue a mediator - someone to help you resolve what seems unsolvable.
LIMIT YOUR NUMBERS:
You’ll be tempted to seek “help” from a large number of friends who will take your side and justify your position. But you know better...you know that’s really pride mixed with disguised gossip and will only sabotage your truest desires for the relationship - so you seek out one person or a trusted couple instead.
WHO TO CALL:
Depending on your needs a “mediator” can be accessed through a helpful book resource... or maybe he/she is a professional at a reputable Christian counseling center...and if you belong to a church, there are likely leaders or couples available who would be honored to help. I’m not sure who you will find, but as long as you trust they can help you clarify root issues and seek resolution (as opposed to just saying that you’re right and the other person is wrong), you’re on the right track towards reconciliation. I applaud you for carefully making that call. I pray it yields good results. But even if nothing immediately changes in the relationship, your heart genuinely pursued peace - and that’s a beautiful change in you. Beautiful, indeed.
WHEN YOU CAN’T MEET:
It’s possible that it is not appropriate to meet with the other person right now...it’s also possible - even likely - that the person you are seeking to reconcile with is not available or willing. In these cases, I trust you’ll find a counselor or mentor to serve as a different kind of mediator...a mediator between your own heart, thoughts and wounds. If you haven’t yet, I hope you’ll take that step towards support.
TO THE MEDIATORS:
Maybe you are (also) the trusted friend or counselor that people often come to for advice. Thank you for accepting the often intimidating process of mediating conflict. Thank you for your service of compassion and support. Thank you for promoting peace, upholding truth, withholding assumptions, refusing to take sides and guiding with grace. Keep doing what you are doing. We appreciate you.
THE MEDIATOR OF ALL MEDIATORS:
Let’s turn now to the mediator of all mediators. Will you pray with me?
Jesus - You made Yourself low, took the form of a bond-servant and laid aside all that you deserved to give us what we could never deserve. You paid our debts - forgave them all. You granted us peace with God through Your blood. How can we thank You Lord? We are humbled. In light of all this, we ask for the same mindset to be made true in us...that we too would lay aside our “rights” and forgive our debtors of their debts. It cost you everything to make us one with each other...so may we take this truth up in faith and walk out its reality in loving unity. Change our hearts. Make us more like You, Jesus. Heal our hearts. Make us whole like You, Savior. And Lord please...mend our relationships. Do what You do best, Mediator of all Mediators. Have Your way. Amen.