Wednesday, June 24, 2015

loving my neighbor

It's confession time. I have been having a really hard time loving my neighbor. My actual, next door, neighbor.

We've been having a bit of a turf war over our shared driveway and it has really hardened my heart towards him. I've had a very "I'm right you're wrong" attitude towards him. I've felt offended and put out every time he approaches me (when he's not ignoring my hellos). After the shock from yet another unpleasant interaction (or note left on my windshield) wears off,  I usually cry and call T.J. to vent and then it just makes me want to dig in my heels even more, and sit up straighter on my high horse.

T.J., my parents, my sister, they've all heard me defend my rightness and proclaim his wrongness, and they've been on my side which only helps me to justify the line I've drawn in the sand (or down the middle of the driveway).

And I think I could keep this up for the next four years until we move away and it's no longer my problem. Except...unfortunately for my pride.... I can't ignore this niggling, nudging, tap tap tapping on my shoulder from the Lord.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; AND, 'Love your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27.

Dang it.  There's really no way to look at that where I come out feeling good about my heart towards my neighbor. It's plain and simple, just tacked on the end there, and its convicting. How do you love God? You love His people.
I'll admit that I selfishly wanted to tell you all the details of the dispute (and a few details shamefully slipped in) so maybe you would see my side. And I had a hard time sharing about this little struggle without using sarcasm, and crossing my arms and stomping my feet in defiance, but I'm at a crossroads. I can hold my ground, not budge an inch, wrap myself up in my rightness and write him off as rude, and impossible, which would probably only convince him that I'm the one being un-neighborly.

Or I can love my neighbor, I can give him grace.

Just imagine if God crossed his arms and wrote us off as rude and impossible when we rightfully deserve it. Instead he gives me grace, humbles me, and softens me with his love.

So I can love him by not running and hiding inside every time I see my neighbor watering his lawn. I can love him by turning the other cheek, by not keeping a record of perceived wrongs, and by giving up the weak satisfaction I get from being "right." I can love him by crossing the line down the driveway and meeting him where he's at. And honestly I don't know where that is. I don't know what hard season he might be in, I don't know his heart, or his hurts but I do know that I don't want to add to them.

Appropriately enough, I got this perfectly timed package in the mail yesterday. Two words. GIVE GRACE. A reminder that grace is a gift, something you can't earn or deserve. Grace, like I've been shown by Jesus, His love, the gift of life everlasting. Bought and paid for when I was still messy and prideful and stubborn and deep in my sin. Grace we're meant to breathe in and exhale out.
Exhale. Love my neighbor. Not because I have to or because I want a pat on the back, but because it is my joy to do so. And sharing this little struggle here holds me accountable and  makes it easier to act in love. It's the first Sunday school lesson and I'm still learning it in it's most basic form. I'm still in desperate need of that Grace.

Faith and Fellowship Blog Hop

**Temporary tattoo from Scarlet & Gold as part of their Give Grace Campaign: A reminder to give grace to those going through hard seasons and that by sharing our struggles we can encourage and support one other. See more about it here

8 comments :

  1. I feel the same way at times. What a great reminder and written so beautifully!

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  2. We had the same kind of neighbor. In our case it was 'our' leaves coming into his yard. I (killed) responded to him with kindness and listening. Of course, I have nothing but time to listen to his stories. He still didn't care to chat with the Hubby but he did get better at his admonishing us via the Homeowners Assoc. He moved in February. ;)

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  3. I have recently (and often) struggled with my sense of rightness too. Such big wisdom written here by my tiny dancer : ) Taking these words to heart xo

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  4. Shannon, I think we have all 'been there' and I only wish I would have been as wise as you. Keep us posted, please, on how the peace-making goes.

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  5. I am older, but experienced some similar things as we grew up along the way after we were married. If you are taking suggestions: ignore as much as possible and make it a game. "Love thy neighbor" even if they are stupid. You know this is not your forever friend and you know he might be a b___hole, but so be it. Kill him with kindness. however, don't let him bully you or take advantage of you. State your case and pass the buck. Don't let him ruin your day! Small battles.....BIG wars!

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  6. Weird I feel like I was meant to read this post today. Thank you for the reminder! If all else fail maybe bake him some cookies?

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  7. Kill him with kindness! :)
    We had a next door neighbor in SC who claimed we (along with 2 other couples) were persecuting them because they were Christians, yet they couldn't follow the neighborhood guidelines & the county zoning board got them. It took me a looooong time to forgive them, but I haven't forgotten the feelings I would get when I drove in to the neighborhood.
    You're Southern...use that Southern Charm!!! :D

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  8. Yes, Shannon, I agree with your Mom, these are mighty deep thoughts from such a young lady and so "right on." May the Lord direct your path and give you His peace and grace as you "love your neighbor." Blessings!

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