I watched a couple work out their differences today.  I was teaching a workshop on “balancing our outer demands with our inner life”.  One of the points I was making was how each of us “renews” differently.  I used the example of a fellow I knew who rejuvenated by going to the hockey game or playing  a round of golf.  I then spoke of his wife who liked to go garage sale shopping on Saturday mornings and always came back refreshed rather than frustrated.   The couple had found satsfaction in differing paths and had given each other freedom to pursue their paths.

This couple in front of me became quite animated and began to whisper back and forth between each other.  I was polite but their energy was so obvious that I stopped and asked “what’s going on?”  They excitedly shared how this had been their experience too–that he renewed one way, and she renewed another.  And their attempts to find mutual renewal frustrated one or the other.  When I suggested to them that their differences were valid and that each needed to renew authentically, and that the point of renewal was to find communion…well–they smiled and laughed.  It was liberating.

The point I wanted to make was to realize the difference between the “ends” and the “means”.  The “end” was renewal.  How they found renewal was the “means”.  They both agreed on their ends, but needed freedom to pursue the “how” of it.  She commented that when “he comes home from a round of golf he’s so relaxed and happy and joyful”.  My response was “it works”!  He says, “when she goes out and garage sales and brings home a trunkful of items that I will eventually haul to the good will store she’s happier than a clam”.  When I asked them how their Saturday afternoon  afterwards went, they both commented–“fantastic”.  My response was “it works”.

Differences can be worked out if we can agree there is an agreed ends in life.  I watched a couple work out their differences today.