The Will to Compromise

Eldon and Rachel

Eldon and Rachel

My daughter and son-in-law are both strong-willed and strong-minded individuals.  I am privileged to live with them. Before they married they promised each other that neither would be the head of their home,  but that they would be happy through compromise. The promise must have been off the record, not a part of the public vows.  Here is how it works.

Their marriage has survived into their mid-sixties.  At the beginning of this year they and their financial advisors agreed that for good reasons this was the year for a complete remodeling of their much-used kitchen and dining room.

I was not a part of the decision-making process, but after the decision was made I  heard many of the intense debates over the right tint of a particular color for the ceiling, walls, and flooring.  New cabinets and cupboards were investigated, debated, designed to fit family needs and desires.   Replacement  appliances were evaluated thoroughly and ordered three months in advance.  Through debate, compromise, and mutual respect decisions were made.



A trusted contractor was hired to help set a time to begin and to agree on a schedule for each phase of the work to be done in the proper sequence by sub-contractors.

Then the family work began.  The old cupboards were emptied of food and supplies.  Unneeded items were discarded or kept for a future yard sale.  Through much debate and compromise, the need for food was projected and food, coffee maker, toaster, plate grill, microwave and refrigerator were moved to the parlor to be used while the kitchen was being remodeled.  Dining-room table and chairs were moved downstairs to the common area of my quarters.

Finally, demolition of the cabinets began. Conrad joined Eldon to remove the old cupboards and Zach and Khalid carried the trash to the out-door bin provided by the contractor.  Paper and paint was scraped off the walls.

New cabinets and cupboard being put in place

New cabinets and cupboard being put in place

Reconstruction began after the wall-board was  repaired  and sanded. Walls and ceiling were painted, and flooring was replaced. and now, today, the new cabinets and a cupboard were installed by a young man who worked with great precision for more than  twelve hours on one day.

Amish are noted for their craftsmanship. The installer did not “look” Amish, but when I asked him about Amish roots he said that he had been  “raised” Amish. He told us he was 34 years old and had 5 children.  He said that the children were evidence of the Amish in him.  His parents had ten children.

I’m thinking of more questions to ask if I see him again.  I wonder how many of his brothers and sisters are still Amish.  He said he had left the Amish faith, but was still a Christian. Is their a difference between Amish faith and Amish culture?  What is an appropriate compromise of culture and faith?

And if strong-willed individuals in their sixties  can remodel a kitchen and dining room through compromise, why can’t democrats and republicans compromise for the good of the nation?

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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2 Responses to The Will to Compromise

  1. Lowell Nissley says:

    Thank you Martin.
    It would be nice if we could both stick our feet under the same table and talk over a cup of coffee, or something else. Ever since setting foot at Sunnyside we’ve been concerned about the muted voices of the Anabaptists. My recent thoughts have been on nationalism. Officaally the USA is the first and only nation to separate Church and State but nationalism has married the two in a very solid union. If in the first 300 years (prior to Constantine) of the Christian Church they had practiced “Romanism” would they too have lived the good life? Not that anything is evil about the good life. It is a matter of values and priorities and who we worship. I’m in the process of reading an older book by Donald Kraybill, “Our Star-Spangled Faith.”

    Sunday night Miriam & I attended the first of a two-part series on “Anabaptist History” at the, believe it or not, Bahia Vista Mennonite church. Dawn Graber did the presentation — excellent. She will present the second part in two weeks.

  2. Mary Bew says:

    Your last question is the one we all need to hear!

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