"What about the Williamsburg White House?" my son asked with urgency.
"What about it?"
"It was on my list and Dad's," he said gently. "It just wasn't on yours."
We were on our way into town, having left Dad to wait for the call from the real estate broker to make an offer on a house we had all agreed on. After tromping through dozens of homes for weeks on end - some Dad liked and Mom didn't, some Mom liked and Dad didn't, some Mark liked and Mom and Dad didn't - we finally took a straw vote on the three houses we each liked the best. The house that Dad was about to make an offer on was the only one we all voted for.
In the last week of the ordeal, I had buckled down and really made an effort to get quiet and listen for an intuition, a direction to take. I do believe in a higher intelligence, a spiritual perspective to which everyone has access. To me, acknowledging this divine Mind and listening quietly for its direction is at the heart of prayer. I wasn't begging God to find us a home or even hoping that the one I liked best would be the winner. I just wanted to do the right thing.
I also made a real effort to get beyond my personal opinion. Opinions are based on the concept that we each have a little mind of our own, usually in conflict with some other little minds. But I had been acknowledging God as the infinite Mind, the one Mind that knows what is best for everyone. Sticking with that truth, and refusing to believe that there were minds in conflict, I was able to get quiet.
Our son was right. The Williamsburg White House (named for the color of the paint) was on his list and Dad's but not on mine. I pulled up to a phone booth, called my husband, and asked him not to make a move with the broker until we got back home and thought this through some more.
Although I had an intense dislike for the Williamsburg White House, I felt intuitively right about halting our decision to buy the one that had received the unanimous vote. I felt I was getting my answer in a most unexpected way.
You guessed it. We bought the Williamsburg White House, which I quickly came to love. It proved to be the perfect house for the three of us. We've always been glad about that decision.
Whether it's a political candidate, the team we think should win the playoffs, vacation plans, or something weightier, it's easy to get enamored with what we feel sure is the right choice. And to be willing to fight for it!
In many instances, personal or political posturing is pretty harmless. Public and even private debate can often be a healthy airing of differing views leading to right solutions. But strong, opposing opinions without the humbleness that comes with listening can gum up the works.
When - after a battle in the court of opinions - one side finally wins, somebody usually goes away feeling like a real loser. That can lead to bitterness and simmering resentment that may flare up eventually in bigger conflicts, like broken families, divided communities, or even war.
So what can you do when an issue is deadlocked and strong opinions are rampant on all sides? Throw in the towel while still hanging on to your views? Keep battling to a bitter end, sure you're the one whose views should win?
How about trying something like the "Williamsburg White House" approach?
* Appeal to a higher wisdom - one that recognizes the power of one infinite intelligence and that has plenty of blessings for everyone.
* Strive to set aside your personal opinion in the decisionmaking process. (This can be hard work!)
* Be fully open to God's will, which can't help but be good for everyone.
What this boils down to is honest, heartfelt prayer. And it's quite possible that it could lead to an unexpected win-win resolution for everyone.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society