Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Love thy neighbor.

I told you a few posts ago about my amazing ability to quickly lose my cool when my children have been targeted or, in that case, stolen from.

The other night, I realized that I have the exact same ability when my husband is misrepresented or accused of being something he isn't. I think it's called "momma-bear-husband-transfer syndrome", and I've got it bad. If it's hasn't already been made perfectly on this blog, of the two of us, Trey is the nice one. Everyone KNOWS he's the nice one. So, when someone says something about the hubs, it gets me all riled up because I'm easy rileable and they should know better.

I know rileable is not a word. It just fits so we're gonna work with me, right? Great. Let's move on.

Over the years, one of our neighbors has become increasingly negative toward everyone else on our street. They've put up fences where they didn't need them to ensure they're lawn wouldn't be inadvertently mowed, they've stopped letting their kids come play, and have cussed-out everyone from our air-conditioning man to our children playing in our own backyard.

We have tried really hard to be good neighbors and early on had a great relationship with them. As we saw them complaining about other neighbors more and more, we knew it was only a matter of time before we were on the black list. We have sincerely tried and made every concession we can to make they're lives as trouble free as possible. They don't want any kids in their yard so when there's a kickball game in the front, it's an automatic out if the ball crosses onto their grass. We're trying people. I swear.

The other morning while at VBS, Trey got a call that two police cars were in front of our house. He dropped what he was doing, put on his Kevlar, and went to check it out. Apparently, one of the boys' friends had come over and was trying to see if they were home by knocking on windows. We know this kid but I'm sure it looked suspicious so we were sincerely thankful the police were notified.

In passing, Trey saw our neighbor and said, "Hey, I don't know if you were the one who called the police but, if you did, I really appreciate you looking out for us."

He denied calling, which was fine so Trey moved on to the next neighbor saying the same thing.

Saturday night, I was out watering the weeds while Trey was at a movie with the boys. Our neighbor came over and said, "Your husband accused my husband of calling the police and we did not call them. Actually, I called up to the station to check on it and our name and address was on the report so I don't know why he told them it was us who called. We didn't and don't appreciate being blamed for calling."


I defended Trey saying, "He was not accusing you, he was thanking you and the he really had no idea who called but since your husband was outside, he thought it might have been him."

Then she proceeded to say Trey was prejudiced against she and her husband.

Seriously? Prejudiced? Have you noticed he's never done anything but concede to your every whim and bend over backwards to right every wrong you think we've committed against you? He speaks to you every morning while you ignore him and walk inside. And, for that matter, have you noticed we're not exactly in the majority here and like it that way?

Silent scream.

I was able to keep my cool in responding to her except for the part where I said, "NO MA'AM ('cause that's not condescending. at all.). I will not stand here while you accuse my husband of something he isn't or take something he said in thanks and twist it to to serve your paranoia."

I think I read that in Matthew once. Trey couldn't find it but I'm pretty sure it's there.

I've been slowly reading Andrew Murray's book, Humility. It's incredibly convicting and says this about humility in the disciples of Jesus...

We may find professors and ministers, evangelists and Christian workers, missionaries and teachers, in whom the gifts of the Spirit are many and manifest, and who are the channels of blessing to multitudes, but of whom, when tested, or close interpersonal relationships reveal their true characters, it is only too evident that the grace of humility, as an abiding characteristic, is rarely to be seen...humility is one of the chief and highest virtues, one of the most difficult to attain, and one to which our first and greatest efforts ought to be directed.

I struggle with humility when pushed. It's the old analogy of a glass being struck and water flying out. The water comes out not because it was struck but because the water was in the glass in the first place. Through the grace of an infinitely patient Father, we are all learning to look more and more like Christ, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.

And prayerfully, with humility, we may learn to live out our greatest command...To love the Lord our God with all our hearts, soul, and strength, and mind, and love our neighbor as ourself.

...even if they are a little paranoid. Oh my gosh! Make it stop!


Sarah said...

Oh how I needed that today! I somehow feel that I have rights and when those "rights" are violated, I lash out. I love the glass and water analogy.

Thank you for being transparent....and God bless you with your neighbors. I would have reacted the same way! :-(

Kori said...

Melissa thanks... I needed this mini lesson today as I have been facing some issues here at work with humility. Thanks for speaking to my heart.

Candy said...

Got me! I'll read Andrew Murray's Humility after I finish C.J. Mahaney's!!! Not there YET. And, for the record, they are paranoid!!!!

emily said...

Really great post. And as a mom to a child of color, I have been meaning to bring up Trey's obvious issues with those different from himself. I would have never brought it up on my own, but seeing as how your neighbor so lovingly brought it to light, I thought I would chime in!!

Are you kidding me? He moves his family from the lily white world over in North Dallas to the hood, because yes, he is a big fat racist!!! Oh boy, I might have a little sister bear in me as well. :)

Did you spray her with the hose on accident? Ok, I will go read the humility part again, maybe it didn't sink in yet!

Thanks for the video! Good stuff.

Donna said...

Hey Melissa- We've got neighbors that dislike me/us for kindly asking them to remedy little Payton's, their pit bull puppy (named after THE Payton Manning), non-stop barking. Some people look for reasons to justify their dislike of you. Christ is THE example of unjustified persecution. God makes the sun shine on them & blesses & grants mercy to them, too, so our not loving them (in His strength) just isn't an option. Say a prayer for them as you would a dear friend and watch what He does to your anger. You can also look at it as a dart from the enemy. If you weren't there serving God, it wouldn't happen. Would you trade it? Great blog by the way.

Jennifer said...

I laughed when I read this, because I'd just finished telling my husband how bad one of our (temporary) neighbors is right now. I think I said something along the lines of, "Hate the sin, not the sinner...BLAH!" Yeah, bad form, I know. I think I found that verse somewhere in Matthew, too.

Thank you for this blog post...it's exactly what I needed to read today. Humility is such a struggle for me, and it's been a while since I've really focused on it. Here goes!

Shaunta' said...

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth, and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, he uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himslef to Him who judges righteously;

How did He do that? Praise the Lord that He did!