Parable of the Yarn – Untangling Differences

by Mary Ann on May 2, 2015


What Do You Do With 100 Pounds of Yarn!!

I recently inherited about 100 lbs of yarn—eleven black garbage bags and seven boxes. I adore yarn, but this was simply an absurd amount of yarn for this novice crocheter.

As the yarn was being packed into every available space of my minivan I envisioned the many beautiful scarves, hats, blankets, and booties that would warm the hearts and souls of so many—100 pounds of love!

However, as I began to actually survey the contents of the bags and boxes I could see that this would be a complicated undertaking, as some of the yarn was in a complex mess of tangles and knots.

Thus came the challenge—the yarn held such beautiful potential in joy, blessings, and pleasure, but that wonderfulness was hidden in the complication of getting through the knots and tangles.

Right at the beginning I had to answer this question – Was it worth doing the obvious work required to reach the wonderfulness? I decided yes. As I sat unwinding, untangling, and un-knotting I was reminded that this yarn mess wasn’t very different than my own 44 year old marriage. It isn’t that much different than any significantly worthy relationship.

IMG_0353Recently, on one of my Facebook groups, a discussion ensued about how a wife should handle a husband who she considered unreasonable in a situation with their child. As you can imagine there were a lot of comments. Many of them had to do with just taking the bull by the horns and forging ahead, doing what was “right” for the child, no matter what the husband’s position.

It brought to mind my whole tangled yarn experience. This couple has a tangled mess. They are trying to sort it out. Each one thinks that their position is “correct” and “reasonable”. They are emotionally pulling, tugging and yanking on their individual “threads” of belief. It is causing a big mess for them.

If we want to untangle messy issues with our spouse it is good to remember that it all begins with relationship, not the current question at hand. The problem for this couple isn’t whether they should do this or that for their child. It ultimately comes down to the health of their relationship.

They are in a place of intractability. It’s me against you. They are at war, so to speak.

Four Ways To Untangle Your Differences

So what can be done when we find ourselves in this intractable place, when we are stuck in a 100 pound tangled mess? Here is what was really obvious as I worked through the yarn tangles:

1. Know in advance of beginning that it is worth the effort to untangle. This was true with my 100 pounds of yarn and it is true of most marital relationships. It took me a lot of hours, over a few days, to get the job done. There were moments of extreme frustration when I wished I hadn’t begun the project, when I wanted to quit. However, I just kept visualizing the reward of hanging in – the many beautiful scarves, hats, blankets, and booties that would warm the hearts and souls of so many.

2. You have to use a gentle touch. No jerking, pulling, grasping, or tugging on the threads. That just tightens the knots! The softer the touch, the more easily it comes untangled. We can translate this into the difficulty of untangling human issues by realizing that you have to have a genuine interest in the other person’s position. You don’t have to agree, but you do need to want to hear and understand. There is a gentleness of heart involved in being able to listen for understanding when you disagree with another person. Sometimes we call it charity.

3. If you can find the beginning of the thread you have a far better chance of getting the knots out. There are two IMG_0362 (1)ends in every skein of yarn. One pulls out from the inside of the skein. The other wraps around from the outside. Sometimes they just get tangled up with each other. You can pull and tug and battle all you want but until you find the ends you will struggle. Finding two ends allows you to unravel the mess eventually. It is akin to having a belief that the other persons position is as valid as yours. From that position of mutual respect you can begin to untangle the mess. You can look at each end, so to speak, and begin the work of bringing order out of chaos. Again, you don’t have to agree but you have to know that despite your different positions, their position is valid.

One of the reasons we have a difficult time taking a genuine interest and in believing that the other person’s position is valid is because we really aren’t willing to see differently. We want our current view.

However, when you are willing to hear and understand another’s position, then you are able to come to a new view. You may still not agree, but you will see their position differently.

4. Allow time. It took many hours, over a number of days, to bring order to that yarn mess. If I had expected to get it done in a few hours I would have experienced a lot more stress and faced the idea of quitting more often. Relationships take time. Each bit of tangled emotion or difference in opinion takes time to unravel. There are not may things that must have a decision right now, in this hour or this day and often even in this week or month. Take the time to let each other think, pray, ponder and talk.

IMG_0361Knowing the relationship is worth the work, having a genuine interest in the other persons position, believing in the validity of the other persons opinion, and by allowing time, you can untangle almost any mess, just as I was able to do with the yarn.

When the work of untangling the yarn was finished, I knew from experience, that the work of creating beautiful scarves, hats, blankets, and booties would be much easier and frankly, a joy. As we untangle each misunderstanding or difference of opinion in our marriage then it will be easier to create a family built on trust, respect, hard work and love. We will have more joy in our families.

Like the yarn, wrapped in neat balls ready to use, our families will look better, feel better and be easier to live and work with. We can create something beautiful and lasting.

What have you experienced in your life that is akin to untangling 100 pounds of yarn?

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