I am getting a new neighbor, the house is under construction, not next door but the next one. The name of my future neighbors came up in a casual conversation with a fellow dog walker from further down the street. I live in a small town so it wasn’t surprising that I already know the owners of the soon to be completed home. I wasn’t happy or excited by this little news bite, just stunned. Kind of like a grenade had landed at my feet but had not yet exploded.
I blurted out, “They are going to sell it once it is finished, right? They aren’t going to live there, are they?” Boom! The grenade exploded! “Yes, they are going to live there.” he replied and continued to talk about the couple for a few minutes oblivious to the fact that I had just been blown to bits by the force of the explosion.
We all have a mental list of people that we don’t like. In many cases, this one included, the names go on our, “People I Don’t Like”, lists. A person earns a spot on the list when, without provocation, intentionally hurts, physically or emotionally, you or someone you love. Mentally stable people don’t dwell on their lists or the people that have earned a high ranking on said list, but most of us also can’t easily tear up the list as if it was an old, unimportant receipt that is no longer needed. We stash it into the back of the junk drawer of our mind so that from time to time we can pull it out and inspect it all over again.
The lady that is my future neighbor has been at the very top of my list for over 20 years now. It is tempting to rehash my version of the story. I am not going to do that, I’ll just say it had everything to do with my child. I won’t go into details since my purpose isn’t to try to rally others to my point of view. Besides, I know that I am on her list too. I suspect that I know why, but I really am not sure. Bygones.
After the initial shock of the blast was over I thought about how my path would soon start crossing with this lady on a much more frequent basis. We will pass each other on the street in our vehicles. We will see each other in our yards and maybe even on walks around the neighborhood if she is into that sort of thing. I imagined myself refusing eye contact with her, never so much as glancing in her direction. She doesn’t even live there yet but I started practicing not looking towards her house when I walked my dog or drove past.
Funny how that kind of thing works. The practice of intentionally ignoring her was prompting my brain to reach into it’s junk drawer and pull out that 20 year old receipt that I felt proved she in some way owed both my son and me for her past actions and words.
I suppose God decided I was in need of an intervention because I found myself thinking how I needed to not only let it go but that I should inform her of the plan. DO WHAT? A part of me really didn’t want to let her off the hook and I sort of tried to shake off that thought.
Days went by and the thought continued to pop up. Amazingly, the more the thought swirled around in my head the more it felt right. The idea that I should prepare a letter to give to her, maybe in person, maybe not, grew stronger until I knew It was what had to happen. I don’t even dread it, I want to do this and that has to be God taking control. I can come up with no other explanation. This isn’t just someone I have disliked for a year or two. She has been numero uno on my list over twenty years.
A very wise person once said, “Sometimes we need to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy.” The quote isn’t scripture yet the essence of the message is found multiple times throughout the Bible.
It is time to clean out my mental junk drawer. I don”t need that old receipt anymore. This is how the letter will read:
I imagine by now someone has told you that I live two doors down from your future home. I was, for lack of a better word, surprised when I learned that you and your husband had purchased the under- construction house down the street and that in the near future will make it your home.
For over 20 years you and I have maintained serious dislike for one another. We could rehash the whole mess but I feel certain that all we would accomplish would be to open old wounds and create more negativity. I don’t need that that and I bet you don’t either. After all this time, I think it is safe to assume that I will always think I did the right thing and that you did wrong, but I further venture to say that you, likewise, will always think that you were right and I was wrong. The point is moot.
Recently, I have had a strong sense that God has presented me with a task. At first the task seemed very unpleasant, but over the past few weeks I have found myself eager to complete the work presented to me. The task is this letter that you hold in your hands and my actions that will follow.
We will, no doubt, see each other frequently once you move in. We will pass by one another in our vehicles as we go about our lives. We may also see each other out walking or in our yards. I was dreading the discomfort of those times until I decided to accept the task. Now, I already feel less stress. Actually, I feel no stress about it.
Rather than refuse to look your way and pretend to not see you, I will wave. If we are in speaking distance, I will say hello. I really believe this will put the old negative thoughts and emotions aside so that I can continue to enjoy my home and my neighborhood. Perhaps you will want to do the same, that your choice.
I just think that life is short and as for me I am ready to lay down this unsolvable conflict rather than continue to feed it with negativity. It’s okay if you don’t choose to wave back or speak but I wanted you to know my motives.
God gave me task and refused to let me ignore it. I hope that your home is full of peace and that you enjoy living in this wonderful neighborhood.
Thanks for reading, have a blessed week.
The following are appreciated for allowing the use of their photographs: Tyler Milligan, Johnson Wang, Alvin Engler and Andre Tan