It was a warm, breezy day. Our subdivision was full of activity as city workers dug up each yard to repair water pipes that ran parallel with the street.
Just a day earlier, our next door neighbor’s little boy had been playing on his small John Deere tractor in my yard next to the very spot where a large bulldozer now sat. As the men began to dig, I suddenly realized that his tractor was still sitting there. I hurriedly pulled on my shoes and ran outside to move it back into his yard before it became a squished Deere.
Several hours later, I’d completely forgotten about that morning’s near tragedy as I busily went about my household chores for the day. It was then that I heard a loud knocking on my front door. I opened it to find my neighbor standing at my doorstep with a look of disgust on her face.
"Hi. Can I help you?" I muttered.
Out of nowhere, she growled at me, "Where’s the pipe to my son’s tractor?"
Pipe? It was the first I’d heard of a pipe. But apparently, as my neighbor quickly informed me, this wonderful little piece of plastic magnificence came with some sort of a spray mechanism that pumped water, drenching anything and everything that got in its way. However, because I was unaware of its existence when I’d picked up the tractor, I must
have overlooked the plastic tube that’d been removed from it.
"Oh," I said. "I didn’t see any piece of plastic tube. It’s probably still laying out in the yard."
With that, my neighbor wheeled around and marched out to my front yard looking as if she were hunting treasure.
Thinking that we’d finished our hasty conversation, I closed the door and continued with my cleaning. A few short moments later, an insistent pounding on my door told me the conversation had just begun.
I opened the door a little more cautiously this time. With a face redder than before, my neighbor exclaimed, "I’ll just send you the bill for the cost of a new tractor."
I was dumbfounded. Had I heard this woman right? Was she really insinuating that I had purposely lost a piece to her son’s tractor, when in fact I was actually saving it from total
destruction…in MY yard?
With every fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians being tested, I politely looked her square in the eye and stated, "I don’t think so. I was trying to be nice by moving your child’s toy out of my yard so that it wouldn’t get tore up. Maybe you should take better care of his things."
There, I said it. The words being quite a feat coming from me, a little gal who normally can’t stand confrontation.
My neighbor quickly retorted, "Then I’ll just sit on your porch until you help me find it."
Feeling my temper flaring, I responded, "Well, ma’am, you will be sitting there all day."
With that, I shut the door and ran to the phone to call my husband. I needed to vent to someone and I wasn’t ready to bring this situation to God yet. I knew what His response would
I knew the Lord would tell me to love my neighbor and let her words pass right over me. I also realized that He’d remind me that I’m just as much of a sinner as she is and that He’d forgiven me endless times for attitudes and actions that were unpleasing, even grievous to
Him. Because of this, I should forgive her of this minor infraction, especially knowing some of the deep-pitted problems she’d experienced over the last few years. Yet, I wasn’t ready to let it go. I was steamed.
To my shame, instead of making the decision to love my neighbor, I instead began to harbor bitter feelings toward her. And not simply for a few days, but for several years. Because of this experience and a few other instances with her, I plotted endless ways to keep the distance between her household and mine, instead of showing the love of Christ through forgiveness and kindness.
What I didn’t realize was that I was being taught a very valuable, yet difficult lesson about loving the unlovable.
It was no accident that I lived next to this woman. God had placed her in my life in order to stretch me. I wasn’t always the first in line to turn the other cheek when others rocked my boat. But through this relationship, God was asking me to lay down my pride and pick up the cloak of humbled heart.
I found myself being reminded of Jesus’ words about loving those who are hard to love. He said:
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’
love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:32-36)
While it was a long process, after continuous conviction and much weeping and gnashing of teeth, I realized that instead of harboring such bitterness and disdain, I needed a heart change. As difficult as it was, I started trying to put forth the effort to smile and wave when I saw my neighbor. I even began to share some of our garden produce in the summer months. Not only that, but on numerous occasions my husband and I would walk over and offer friendly conversation on long summer evenings. To my surprise, I started to see that there was a warm, friendly soul behind her rough exterior.
I would love to say that all has been perfect since I started reaching out to my neighbor. But unfortunately, I’m not always the picture of perfect love and kindness. I still struggle with loving those who don’t make it easy and am a project in the works with much growing to do. However, I’m encouraged as I slowly but surely continue learning how to love those I find unlovable.
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
Get Our Free Ebook!
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions
The Psalms is a book that's rich with the reality of what life's like in this fallen world. Here are...
3 Ways to Navigate Personality Differences
Sometimes personality differences can wear on us. Here are three ways we can navigate them in a loving manner.
Surprised By ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’
If you haven't seen this film, God may speak to your heart through it in ways you weren't expecting.
The Wedding Ring
Are you struggling in your marriage? Here's how a wedding ring helped one wife fight for her marriage.
5 Ways to Live an Out-of-Control Life
Here are 5 ways to let go of control and trust your present and your future to God.
5 Creative Places to Find Prayer Accountability
Do you want to pray more, but are easily distracted? Here are some practical ways to stay focused.
How to Rescue a Day Gone Wrong in Your Marriage
Just because a day doesn't start well, doesn't mean you can't rescue it.
What Women Are Saying
-- Renee Fisher, author of Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.
Faith4 years ago
When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds
Motherhood4 years ago
Surviving a Strong-Willed Child
Faith5 years ago
7 Ways to Create A Family Altar
Friendship6 years ago
Beyond the Registry: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Expectant Parents
Relationships4 months ago
5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Hear God
Marriage6 years ago
4 Reasons I’m Not Facebook Friends With My Husband
Everyday Faith5 years ago
6 Simple Ways to Give Thanks in the Thick of It
Articles5 years ago
10 Ways Life is Like a Box of Chocolates
Articles7 years ago
How to Lift Up the One You Love
Articles5 years ago
Relationships9 months ago
Facing Our Motherhood Fears
Digging Into Scripture4 weeks ago
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions