Faith Stories: The Unfriendly Neighbors
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. -Matthew 5: 43-45
The young professional couple that moved in next door kept very much to themselves. They rebuffed welcoming gestures not only by me but by the other neighbors as well. They turned away the vase of freshly cut flowers I delivered one day and told one neighbor who with her small child had come to pay a visit that they were not interested in being welcomed to the neighborhood.
The young man removed a bird feeder I had placed on a tree between our yards and in the middle of the night repositioned the trash can that I had placed at the edge of my driveway to the very center of the driveway because he thought it was on his grass. More actions, both subtle and overt, spoke of their closedness and their unwillingness to be a part of our friendly, family-oriented neighborhood.
I found myself thinking unkind thoughts as I looked at their house on my morning walks and knew that was not the response Christ would require. So, instead, I began praying for this couple each time I passed by their house or looked at it from my kitchen window. As the months passed and the prayers continued, I felt a change come over me!
My heart was filled with love for this lonely and isolated couple. I persisted in my overtures of friendship. Gradually, smiles were returned, waves exchanged, and then the shared experience of devastating Hurricane Gustav offered an opportunity to give caring assistance and neighborly aid. Because of the persistence of prayer, this couple has embraced and become an integral part of the neighborhood. Praise God!
Prayer: Loving God of all, help us to recognize all people as our brothers and sisters. Help us to pray, even when we have no idea what words to use. Amen.