We had been at it for weeks.  Our van’s heating element had given up the ghost right as fall was bowing out and Old Man Winter was settling in and we were at an impasse as to how to handle it.  Money, that ever-elusive but necessary evil, was at the heart of our squabbling.  That and pride.

I was absolutely convinced that there was no argument here; we MUST replace the heating element regardless of our ability to pay for it.  After all, we had a 4-month-old and she needed to keep warm.  We should put it on the credit card and figure out how to pay for it later.  And what about me?  I hated being cold, despite my northern roots.  What was my husband thinking?

He, also, was absolutely convinced that there was no argument here; we MUST NOT replace the heating element precisely BECAUSE of our inability to pay for it.  After all, if we didn’t have the money now, what made me think we would suddenly have the money later?  He was already working double shifts to support our growing family.   There was no way he could work any more.  What was I thinking?

This particular night, we had rather heated discussions all evening while out for a drive in said cold van that left the air positively frigid.  What was supposed to have been a chance to get away for a while and reconnect had turned into an all-out argument fest that left us both feeling farther apart than ever.   Each of us was convinced that we were absolutely right and the other was absolutely wrong.   We did not see any third options.  We were stuck good.

Sitting in the driveway still fuming from our lack of ability to agree, I got a brainwave.  Why don’t we talk to God about this and see what He has to say about it?  Inwardly, I was sure that God would show my husband the obvious sense I was making.  I mean, think of the baby!  I was later to discover that John felt pretty much the same way, convinced that God would show me the obvious sense that my husband was making.  I mean, think of the money!

After a short, tense prayer together, we entered the house ready to relieve my mother-in-law of babysitting duty.  Before we even got our coats off, she blurted out,  “By the way, before I forget, your father and I have agreed that we’d like to pay for the heat in your van.”   Our mouths dropped open wide and we looked at eachother more than a little bewildered.  She had no idea about our icy evening and the resultant prayer just moments before.  The timing was too good to be coincidence. 

And we were definitely not prepared for this answer.  God hadn’t decided who was “right” and who was “wrong” after all.   He had honored us both.  We would have heat in the van AND we wouldn’t go into debt over it.  We were more than a little humbled.

That night while settling into bed, the coolness that had haunted us for weeks gave way to a warmth that came from our newly found mutual respect.  This incident started a foundational shift in our marriage.  We began really seeing eachother for the first time all over again, each a person in his or her own right with thoughts and feelings just as valid as our own. 

Philippians 2:3-4  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Imagine that.