August 17, 2016
Anyone who manages property in the Pacific Northwest knows the challenge of blackberry vines. Covered with vicious thorns, they grow at a nearly observable pace and spread relentlessly. An entire area can be cleared of them, but if not treated, they will soon return with a vengeance.
If we like blackberry preserves and cobbler, we would not want to be without this delicious fruit. So while fighting the vines where we do not want them, we value what they offer when allowed to grow.
In the words of Andy Stanley, this is not a problem that needs to be solved, nor is it a stress to be resolved; it is a tension to be managed. So much of human experience falls into this category.
Blackberry vines can be a pain – literally – but the fruit offers intense pleasure. With proper management, our perspective helps us keep the vines from taking over the yard while they are allowed to fulfill their purpose of satisfying our appetite.
An important principle for human relationships can be found in the blackberry challenge. Two very different people get married. As they learn to appreciate each other, the “thorns” can cause a loss of perspective. But the goal is to focus on how the differences, when blended, can bring creativity and joy into the relationship. The “cobbler” needs to be enjoyed while we learn to manage the vines.
Sometimes the best solution to the challenge of blackberry vines is to completely eradicate them from the yard and then visit the local fruit stand and purchase what someone else labored to provide. It is a legitimate way to manage the tension.
In our relationships, we might call this learning to agree to disagree. There is room for difference of opinion that we may never resolve, but we can figure out ways to keep this from dividing us and still do life together with joy.
I hope I remember these ideas the next time I am fighting blackberry vines – or enjoying cobbler. Tension management is important – it can save a relationship.
Pastor Bill Ehmann