I was really looking forward to Memorial Day weekend last year—three days of relaxation and quality time with my husband. He and I had not enjoyed a getaway since my mother’s death earlier in the year.  It was just what we needed, plus it was my birthday.  We saved, pooled our money, and reserved a delightful cottage in a tourist town in the Ozark Mountains.

After we arrived and settled in, our first excursion was dinner at a fine dining restaurant for my birthday. It was a special evening, so I even wore a dress. I couldn’t have anticipated that conflict would arise at dinner, or that my response would determine the outcome of the rest of the weekend.

Once we were seated and had reviewed the menu, I decided I wanted the filet mignon. A little pricey, yes, but I thought it was a night to splurge, and I knew we would likely dine at more casual restaurants the rest of the weekend. My husband whispered, “No, get something less expensive.” So I settled for the chicken marsala.

Then I requested a Caesar salad. “No, that’s extra, get the garden salad that comes with the entrée.” This time, his reply was laced with irritation and he did not whisper.  Not knowing how much money he had allowed for dinner and not wanting to argue, I complied.

Blood boiling

My meal was delicious, and I didn’t think another thing about it. That is, until it was time to pay. My husband pulled out a card that I didn’t recognize. “What is that?” I asked. He explained it was a pre-paid card—a gift for helping with a church banquet.

“How much?” I asked.

“A hundred dollars.”

At that point, I could feel my blood starting to boil. “You mean to tell me that you had a hundred-dollar gift card and you wouldn’t let me have a steak?”

I could tell by his reply that he was getting defensive: “Well, Glenda, I didn’t want to spend it all in one place!”

There was a time in my life when my fangs would have come out over a perceived wrong, but I have learned a lot about handling conflict with my husband. He is a good man, but sometimes can be a tightwad. Knowing we had cash for the rest of the weekend, I just could not make sense of his answer.

Then I remembered the seminar I had attended on being a “Peacemaker.”

I took a deep breath and silently asked the Holy Spirit to calm me down and use this incident for His glory. But how could I glorify God in this conflict?

I had to make a choice

Is a steak worth a fight? Of course it isn’t! The whole thing seemed ridiculous, but I still had to make a choice: either stand up for my rights and risk ruining the evening, or surrender it to God and trust Him.

God’s Word tells us, “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression” (Proverbs 19:11, NASB). To me, overlooking a transgression means forgiving without being asked, walking in love instead of anger, and allowing love to cover a multitude of “sins” (Ephesians 5:2; 1 Peter 4:8). After all, I wasn’t going to starve if I didn’t have a steak. It wasn’t significant enough to draw a line in the sand.

So I smiled at my husband as we left the restaurant and gently took his hand. I think he was surprised that I wasn’t mad. I also chose to bless him with my love later that night instead of returning “insult for insult” (1 Peter 3:9).

Since then, I have reflected on what could have happened if I hadn’t obeyed God. I could visualize my anger escalating … saying unkind words … giving or getting the silent treatment …  and being miserable for the rest of the trip.

Instead, the next few days couldn’t have been more fun. We laughed and loved, had great conversations, shared from a devotional book each day, dined at some unique little restaurants, and did some touristy activities—all without saying anything else about the cost.

I confess that anger was once one of my besetting sins. But the transforming power of the Holy Spirit continues to conform me to His image. Through God’s grace and years of practice, I have witnessed a change in my heart attitude and self-control. The blessing I gave my husband was, ultimately, mine too.

And someday, I’ll forget about that steak.

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