Our neighbors are difficult to love. Not the family with kids – they are great people, our kids play together, and we watch each other’s houses when we’re out of town. Not the couple across the street – they are very sweet and have a cute little great-grandson that they watch during the week. And not the couple a few houses over – they gave us a van a year ago (yeah – GAVE us a van for free) so we really like them. No, it’s the neighbors on the other side of our house that we’re having issues with.
The house is a rental and has been occupied for the last month or so by young people who look like they’re just out of high school. They play loud music. They ride a snowmobile in the front yard late at night. They wait a very long time to shovel their part of the sidewalk (and then don’t keep it well-shoveled). The police have been there to visit several times. The owner of the house lives several hours away, so she came by a few weeks ago because a neighbor had called anonymously to complain. The occupants haven’t done anything illegal or that looks like it would violate the lease, but they are just hard to live near.
So, I complain. That is the Godly thing to do, right? No, you’re right, of course. Complaining is rarely useful or Christlike. Normally, we take over a loaf of bread or cookies within a week or two of someone moving in nearby, but I never got around to it this time. And, now, I’m not really all that interested in trying to get to know these kids.
And then the Holy Spirit smacks me across the face (metaphorically, of course). In Matthew 5:43-44, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” I don’t even know these kids enough for them to be my “enemies”. If I should love my enemies, then I certainly need to be able to love the kids next door.
Step 1 – Pray. I’ve started that. I need to do it lots more. And quit complaining (‘cause that’s a really rotten example for my children – EEK!)
Step 2 – Christmas cookies. Who doesn’t love Christmas cookies?! I baked a bunch of cookies the other day, so I’ll take a bag over to the house this afternoon.
Step 3 – I have no idea. Mostly it will involve doing good and not complaining. And more praying. Can’t forget praying.
How do you love people who are hard to love? What other ideas can you give me? Any great stories of how God has changed you or the person you loved? (Yeah, I could use a little motivation!!)