“Excuse me! Excuse me! I left a yellow note over there for you to let you know that’s a grape vine in case you want it.”
That was how I met my soon to be neighbor. No pleasantries. No self introduction. Not even a smile. Just a holler to let me know she took the liberty of marking plants on my new property based on the assumption I’m too stupid to know the difference between a food plant and a weed.
It was socially awkward at best, insulting at the worst.
I walked toward her and thanked her, basing my reaction on the hope it was the former. And, in doing so, I opened the door for thirty minutes of non stop negativity.
She told me that others had warned her not to divulge what she knew, but she felt I NEEDED to know. Someone needed to tell me what things are really like.
She proceeded to say that I’m a fool if I think my new house will be built in a year. There are things “they” don’t tell you about. “They” misrepresent the true costs. She made assumptions and hurled accusations and insults at “them” and me.
“They may appreciate the little cookies you bring, but that isn’t going to get your house built!” Well, I never planned on bringing cookies, but if I did I assure you they wouldn’t be little.
“You need to get some volunteers! Look around you! Who have you got? No one! You and your boys can’t build your house alone!” I’ve had people offer to help us weed eat, but I’ve turned them down. I don’t want to burn them out before I need them for the build. My son and I are quite capable of clearing a little brush.
Before she walked off, seemingly satisfied with herself, she informed me I have a stray cat on my property that she is feeding for me. I emphatically stated I don’t want a stray cat; I have enough pets.
“Well, you’ve got one now!” she yelled over her shoulder as she walked away.
I stewed over that “conversation” for quite some time before I finally shared with a couple of friends just how bothered I’d been by it all. After all, she’s a cancer survivor. How harshly can I judge her?
I was honestly very busy and couldn’t get back over there to finish. But, my heart wasn’t really in it anymore either. She’d stolen some of my joy, and I didn’t want to face her again.
When I did return, I arrived to find her vehicle with a trailer attached to it parked smack dab in the middle of “my” property. She immediately let her little dog out, and it ran over to us, barking incessantly and scaring my animal loving 5 year old. She didn’t call it back. She didn’t offer to move her vehicle. She just wandered her yard, watching us work around her belongings.
This isn’t starting off good.
Naturally, I posted a picture of our finished work on Facebook, complete with her stuff, along with a comment about my “neighbor.” Some people had some not very nice suggestions as to how to deal with her. All were sympathetic. Except one.
The last comment was an admonishment to me to “love my neighbor.”
I’m not easily provoked. My personal history testifies to that. But, telling me to “love my neighbor” when I shared what she’d done took me back to the multitude of times I’d sought help over the years.
The standard Christian advice I’d received was to “love my husband with the love of Jesus.” Or, “Honor my mother that she may be won through my good behavior.” My favorite was the finger pointing correction that I needed to “forgive them because I’m a sinner, too, and one sin is not worse than another.”
Not long ago I saw a meme on Facebook and reposted it. It didn’t receive many likes or comments, but I thought the brutal honesty was hilarious. It reminded us that the next time we ask What Would Jesus Do? we should remember turning over tables and flogging bankers isn’t out of the question.
It was funny, but it also was a sly reminder that Jesus didn’t let people get away with stuff.
My grandma’s favorite quote was Edmund Burke’s, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Now, I’m not comparing my neighbor’s rudeness to my mother’s cruelty, nor am I saying she’s wicked. I’m DEFINITELY NOT advocating flogging anyone! I’d just like to pose the question: Is it unloving to call out, correct, or acknowledge ill treatment?
To be continued…….