Previously I spoke of the contention that arises when two egos strive together, versus the unity that arises when two hearts do. And I actually experienced a recent example of both sides of this.
The most difficult disagreements to navigate are the ones where each side feels a moral conviction. It is very easy to entangle pride and ego with your personal sense of right and wrong, and to feel insistent that your way is objectively correct.
The example I saw of this recently was when my wife and I were discussing the question of tithing. We’ve always subscribed to that practice, but there is definitely some room for interpretation within that law. Does that ten percent come before or after taxes? Does it come before or after benefits? If you realized you forgot to tithe a previous sum do you go back and cover that, or do you just let it go?
And generally I would say “do what your conscience tells you, and don’t worry if it is slightly different from someone else. So long as you are sincere in trying to follow the law, God will approve.”
And if my wife and I had separate incomes, I could tithe mine in the way that made sense to me, and she could tithe hers how it made sense to her. But we share an income, and when we received a sum that fell into that tithing-gray-area we each felt “right” about a different course of action to take.
And for the first while, each of us tried to convince the other of why we were right, and each of us felt a little ruffled about that. It did not become a very hostile situation, but there was definitely some friction in the moment. It was easy for each of us to feel unheard and judged.
Ego against ego. There was never going to be a mutual outcome from this.
Eventually we took a different approach, though. Instead of trying to “solve the problem,” we backed away and spoke about our stung feelings. We admitted to pride and frustration, to feeling unimportant and unprioritized.
We bypassed ego, and started taking heart-to-heart and spirit-to-spirit.
And then we didn’t feel like we were on two sides anymore, we felt like we were on one side together. It wasn’t important to me that we use my solution anymore, and it wasn’t important to her that we use hers. Neither of us had to be the one that won. Now, at last, we could kneel down together and ask God what to do about the matter.
And each of us came out of that prayer with a shared feeling, a warm assurance about the right thing to do.
And it wasn’t what either of us had been recommending. It wasn’t “my way” or “her way.” Nor would I say it was a compromise between our two extremes. It really felt like a third choice. A shared choice. Shared between me and she and He.