Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child. Have fun!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

THAT neighbor, too?

Thankfully, not everyone has a neighbor like that.  You know, the cranky, rude, curmudgeon in that house right next to yours.  But some of us do.  And some of us have.  Do you have to love that neighbor?  How do you love that neighbor?

We had one of those.  His name is Rob and he's still there.  We are not.  Rob is a rather large man with a very sweet, quiet wife.  She spoke to us only if Rob wasn't around; he spoke to us only when he was threatening us as in, "Keep your *^$%^&** kids off my property," and "Don't get your *&%#@$^&* lawn mower on my side of the line."  And when I say line, I mean line.  Rob actually pounded two stakes into the ground to mark the corners of our property and then he strung a line between the two.  It made it extremely difficult for us to make sure we mowed all of our property without taking the mower over the line (and he would know as he always made sure to stand right next to it while we mowed, towering over the poor soul pushing the mower, menacingly daring someone to go a millimeter over the line.  Heaven forbid if we had ever accidentally split that line with the mower.  If he happened to be home from work when the children and I were playing in the driveway or waiting for the bus at the end of it, he'd stand right there, just over his line, glowering at us.  One morning we woke up to find our pet rabbit dead and bloody, never confirmed but suspiciously not-from-natural causes. On several occasions he threatened to break our kids' *$#^*#@* legs, once standing outside our front door yelling at John while I herded the kids into a separate room and closed the door.  On those occasions, we called the police.  In fact, the neighbor on the other side of Rob, a very tiny postal worker with a heart of gold, caring for his ailing mother, also called the police after Rob pushed him.  Apparently, he got too close to the line on that side of the property.

Rob is clearly mentally ill.  At least that's the only way my mind can wrap around a person such as that.   We called the police when our children were so clearly threatened.  But the rest of the time?  That was my dream home, to be my forever home, and Rob was the only negative aspect of living there. We talked with our children about loving Rob even though we didn't like what he was doing.  We reminded them often to keep their play and toys far away from the dividing line. We tried to serve him in ways that didn't put our lives in danger.  If he was home, we shoveled snow just to the line.  If he wasn't, we shoveled the whole sidewalk around his property.  When we delivered cookies at Christmas, we left his at the door rather than wait until we knew he was home.  We also prayed for Rob.  We prayed that God would change his heart, that Rob would see our desire to do good.  We prayed for our safety.  And in full disclosure, I often prayed that Rob would get a job transfer and need to move to another city, far, far, away. Instead, God gave us the nudge that we should move our family to another job, another part of the state.  But Rob is still there.  When we drive our kids past the old house, we often see that infamous vehicle in the driveway, the one that brings feelings of dread all over again. I am thankful to know that there is another family still living in the neighborhood who regularly prayer walk the block and include Rob and his wife in their prayers.

So, yes, loving our neighbor in the general sense means we need to love the unlovable and our enemies, and the same applies to our actual neighbors, too.

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