Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What I Learned Wednesday #17: Love Thy Neighbor Edition

I promise that Anne Shirley breaking a slate over Gilbert Blythe's head is relevant to this post.

I don't know about y'all but I have really nosy neighbors. They want to know (and usually do find out) everyone's business. Most of the time they also exaggerate and/or create gossip out of thin air. As someone who likes her privacy, I get really annoyed with it and with questions about where I'm going or what I'm doing (or who's that guy?!). That annoyance has landed me in the confessional a couple of times so I thought to myself this week "why not look at what it says about 'loving thy neighbor' and write a post about that?" So, here we are... and here we go.

1. In Matthew 22:39 it clearly states that: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"... which isn't easy when said neighbor is doing something that's just plain mean. Example: A neighbor of ours told me that my mother had spoken ill of me. This neighbor isn't exactly known for being truthful 100% of the time and I knew that my mother hadn't said anything of the like but I still brought it up to my mom. Not in a confrontational manner but in a "hey, mom, Mrs. *insert surname* said that you had something this about me." Mom was, unsurprisingly, upset that someone she thought she could trust had said such a falsehood. It was just mean. Who would lie to potentially create friction in the household of "dear friends"? Well, who am I to judge the kind of person who would do that? Sure, I don't like it but it gives me no right to turn around and judge them and their actions. Do I want to go to confession for having uncharitable thoughts or seeking revenge on this neighbor? Not really. A smile, a cordial greeting, and straight to my house or car is all they're getting from me these days.

2. I've had to remind myself that, while anger is a natural human emotion, one must not dwell or act upon it. Not that I've acted upon it but I used to beat myself for getting angry at what my neighbors would say about me and/or my mother. Once, there was a rumour going around that my mother was involved with a former building manager... when it reality the guy was actually trying to court me. Yes, I used to the words "court me." We knew who started the rumour. It was the same person who, on a trip to the ER because I had an allergic reaction to food, said that I was "dying" and "throwing up" and a whole bunch of other things that were not true. I was livid. This woman who had said that I had been more ill than I was was also besmirching my mother's name and reputation for no good reason. During times like this I have to remind myself: "Be angry, and sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your anger" (Ephesians 4:26) as well as "Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." (Romans 12:19) So, even though I am uber ticked off at times when neighbors try to make up rumours about myself and my mom, I'm learning to say "Okay, my anger is justified but I have to let it go and focus elsewhere."

3. The biggest thing I learned this week was that I really didn't know where everything I wanted to add to this blog was in the Bible. I knew that it spoke about loving our neighbors, turning the other cheek, not acting in revenge, and about gossip itself but I am so out of touch with reading the Bible that I had to look them up (also looked in my Catechism). In fact, there was so much material that I couldn't fit it all in this blog post. However, it also dawned on me that I may not be the only one. So, a challenge: look it all up in the Bible. If you have a problem with a nosy neighbor or one who likes to slander folks, look up what the Bible says and then pray for them. There are a number of reasons why these neighbors may be acting the way they do but it all boils down to them hurting themselves. Their words and actions hurt them more than they hurt those who are the objects of their gossip and rumours. Just think of what it means for their own soul. Pray for them and pray for patience for yourself if it really bugs you. My go-to prayers when I am trying to keep uncharitable words from coming out of my mouth is to say "Good gracious, give me patience" and "My God, have mercy on their souls."

Oh, I'll slip and gripe ("Ugh, why don't they mind their own business?! My business doesn't concern them") but that's what lands me in the confessional so I'm trying to get better at it. I'm nowhere near perfect but I have to remind myself that when (as my British friends like to say) I'm being a "stroppy cow", I have to be kinder than I feel. Not always easy but not impossible either. :)

I should also note that you can say something to the neighbors about their actions but I'm the "avoid conflict and arguments at all costs" kind of gal so that's why I wrote this post as someone who would rather turn a cheek and be silent. Trust me, in my situation it would be best to keep my mouth shut.

Anyway, that's it for this week's edition of What I Learned Wednesday. It's something that's been occurring more often so I thought I'd write out my thoughts/feelings.

And now I have a date with a cold glass of water (hello, summer heat wave) and a snack before I have some girl time with a good friend. :)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless. :D

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