Sunday

A Sweet Tip for Resolving Conflict

A Pennsylvania farm wife used a batch of cinnamon rolls to teach me a valuable tip for handling conflict. 

Grandma Shick made the best cinnamon rolls ever. Each layer of soft dough contained just the right mix of sugar and cinnamon. And the warm, melted icing? Pass the insulin; I’m headed straight for a happy diabetic coma. 

One day after eating myself into cinnamon roll heaven, I asked Grandma Shick if she’d share her recipe. She looked at me, puzzled. “Well, I don’t really have a recipe,” she said. “But the next time I make them, I guess I could try to measure things and write it down.” 

True to her word, three months later an envelope arrived in my mailbox with handwritten directions for making her heavenly pastries. I couldn’t wait to try the recipe*. 


Determined that my cinnamon rolls were going to taste as good as Grandma Shick’s, I followed each step exactly. Scald the milk and butter. Cool to lukewarm. Proof the yeast. Slowly add flour. Stir gently, then knead. Before long I had a plump ball of dough that vaguely resembled a baby’s squishy bottom. 

Mmmm, I couldn’t wait to taste those delicious cinnamon rolls. 

The next step read, Let it rest for 10 minutes before rolling. Let it rest? Why? 

The dough was soft, and I was impatient, so I decided to skip that part and go straight to rolling the dough. I floured the surface and my rolling pin, turned the dough out onto the counter, and started rolling. 


But the dough wouldn’t cooperate. It had seemed soft and malleable in the bowl, but when I flopped it onto the counter, it was springy and stiff. Every time I’d roll a corner flat, the dough would spring back into a lump as soon as I lifted the rolling pin. I rolled; it sprung. I tugged; it tore. I flattened; it puffed back up. The harder I rolled, the faster it returned to its original shape. 

In frustration, I finally flung the rolling pin aside. “I give up. You win.” Washing my hands of the flour, I left the kitchen in disgust. 

Ten minutes later I had talked myself into trying it one more time. After all, I had a lot of ingredients tied up in that lump of dough. I pushed my sleeves up past my elbows and picked up the rolling pin. I was prepared to wrestle that dough into submission. 


Surprisingly, like a toddler after a much-needed nap, the dough was well behaved and compliant. With a few gentle strokes of the rolling pin, I had a 12x18 square of smooth yeasty goodness stretched across my counter. I brushed it with butter, sprinkled it with sugar and cinnamon, and rolled it up, slicing it into pieces and tucking it into a pan to rise once more. 

I thought about this experience the other day, especially the instruction I skipped: Let it rest for 10 minutes before rolling. This helpful advice doesn’t just apply to the days we wrestle with bread dough, however. It’s also helpful when we wrestle with people. 

I have a low tolerance for conflict. I hate the strained silences, uncomfortable exchanges, and bad feelings that accompany interpersonal upsets. When I know something’s amiss between me and someone I care about, I want to get the problem out into the open, talk through it, and arrive at a solution. Then we can all be happy again. 

This isn’t always the best approach, however. Sometimes my terrier-on-a-pant-leg style hinders rather than helps. Sometimes, like with my cinnamon roll dough, I’d be better off letting it rest a bit before I tackle it. 

Taking a rest in the midst of a conflict is helpful for several reasons: 

1. It allows some of the intense emotions to abate, leaving room for more rational thinking. 

2. It enables both parties to take a step back for a fresh look at the situation. 

3. It can help one or both of you realize the issue really isn’t worth fighting about. 

4. It can prevent you from saying things in the heat of the moment that you’ll regret later. 

5. It gives you time to pray about the matter, asking God to show you if you’re at fault in any way. 

Bible teacher Chip Ingram suggests that if you agree to table the discussion, or, as Grandma Shick’s recipe suggests, “let it rest,” that you set a time, preferably within the next 24-48 hours, when you will talk about it. This prevents couples from sweeping conflict under the rug and never addressing the issues. 

All my life I’ve heard people quote Ephesians 4:2, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” as a warning that you’re unwise if you go to sleep before you’ve settled an argument. It’s been my experience, however, that arguments often become bigger and uglier the more tired we become. To persevere in “settling” a volatile issue when one or both parties are exhausted guarantees no one gets any sleep, and the situation will be even worse in the morning. 


My cinnamon rolls turned out beautiful when I finally let them rest. I think many of our conflicts can also resolve beautifully if we let them “rest” long enough to take control of our emotions, gain a more rational perspective, and decide if the issue is worth discussing. Best of all, a “rest” allows us prayerfully to seek God about the conflict, ask for his insight, and obey what he tells us to do. 

Now it’s your turn. Has there been a time in your life when allowing a matter to rest for a time helped you arrive at a better resolution? What are the dangers of letting a matter rest without agreeing to revisit it at a better time? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. If you’re reading by email, CLICK HERE to visit Hungry for God online, scroll to the bottom of the post, and leave a comment there.

5 ways taking a rest in the midst of a #conflict is helpful. Lori Hatcher on Hungry for God #faith (Click to Tweet)

How #conflict and cinnamon rolls both turn out better after a rest. @Lori Hatcher shares 5 reasons.  #faith #relationships (Click to Tweet) 


* Some have asked me to share Grandma Shick's cinnamon roll recipe. Sadly, I lost it when my recipe book fell into a pot of oil one day when I was cooking :(.


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4 comments:

  1. Hi Lori, this is such a great and timeous post for me. The terrier on the pants leg thing so resonated with me lol. I need to learn to take that 10 minutes out. Really, I do! My approach would definitely soften and God would have time to remind me of His word and His way in these things. Again, great post
    God bless
    Tracy

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    1. Oh my, Tracy, that is so me! I'm glad my transparency helped you connect with the lesson God's been trying to teach me for YEARS. May God bless you as you move forward. Thanks for dropping by and chiming in.

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  2. I realize it can be helpful to wait before tackling an upset, but now I have the Cinnamon Bun Process to remind me. Thank you.

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    1. Hopefully a "spoonful of sugar" helped the medicine go down :). May God richly bless your relationships and keep conflict short and sweet.

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