Monday, January 28, 2013

Confession #37 - Love Thy Neighbor? Are you kidding me?

Honestly this post has been sitting in my list of blogs that I have yet to publish because I haven't been quite sure if I wanted to tell the whole world about this, but frankly after this last "incident" it's time.  I need to get this off my chest but also I need to begin the forgiveness and healing process, so here goes...

For the last 13 years we've live on a relatively quite street with fairly decent neighbors, but for the last two years my husband has become the target of one of our neighbor's (whom I believe is a sociopath) misguided anger.  Each time my husband is outside, the neighbor (who must watch for him) comes outside and as my husband passes on the opposite side of the street the neighbor hurls insults and foul language at him.  He always makes sure that no one else is around when he does it and then he taunts him by saying everything he can think of to get  him to come across the street for a physical confrontation.

Thank the Lord it has never come to that.  For the most part, my husband ignores him.  However, on occasion Vince has made comments back.  To which I have always encouraged my husband to ignore him and to forgive him that he has mental problems and the like....

Let me say that writing this post is not an excuse to "out" this person.  He will remain unnamed.   What I will say is...He is married to a nice lady, and has a few lovely children.  Additionally this man is a member of my church.  At church his personality is likened to a pillar of the community, but at home he is an evil man.  He has his wife and some other neighbors convinced that Vincent is the problem.  What makes the situation even more odd is the fact that we have been neighbors for as long as I've lived here and have only just realized his hatred.  Every year I'd bring his family cookies at Christmas, invite them over to our home; an invitation they've never accepted, hired him to do work for us, and when hurricane Wilma hit in 2005 Vince was on his roof nailing up a tarp. 

This situation has effected our marriage in the past because these verbal attacks have cause my husband to pent up rage and that would end up coming out on myself and sometimes even my daughter.  Thankfully we have worked through those issues but since this ugly man hasn't gotten the response he wants he's hitting verbally below the belt.  That brings me to yesterday...

This horrible man laughed at my husband and basically said he was happy that our dog Nicolas died.  Vince didn't really respond but when he came in and told me what he said I lost it!  I was on my way to confront him and my husband had to restrain me.  To me that's the same thing as saying that he's glad my kid died.  God forbid!

I don't know if it's the just Italian in me but I was ready to go to the mattresses and make him an offer he can't refuse.  I had thoughts of callin' up "Uncle Louie" and arranging a kneecap removal if you know what I mean.  After doing everything in my power not to react to this terrible thing I decided to pray for him.  And so I did, but the evil thoughts continued to invade my mind until I posted on facebook:

"What do you do when someone laughs in your face and says that they are happy your dog died? To me that is equivalent to saying that they are happy a family member died. It was a severe test of restraint. Please pray that God would continue to give me restraint and to help me to forgive him. Additionally please pray for this horrible man to find the love of Christ in his ugly black heart."
A friend who knows the situation wrote:

Her:   Gotta be that terrible neighbor of yours, right? Oh I am soooo mad reading this . I am sorry Jo.
Me:    Yup it was him
Her:    r u kidding me? Unreal.... I am amazed you haven't "outed" this apparently very misguided 'Christian'. That IS restraint !!!
Me:    Well I guess I just did. So much for restraint. :(
Her:    Do not feel bad. You do not have a mean bone in your body- and you have been a loving and forgiving neighbor despite this person's continued intentional meanness. Of course you will forgive, because you are intentional about being Christlike. Praying for the whole situation. Love you
That's just the point.  I didn't need to show restraint.  I needed to be Christlike.  I want to always be intentional about being Christlike, but once again I stumbled and I needed that loving reminder that my thoughts were far from that.  I allowed evil to invade my heart and it had hold of me for nearly an entire day.  I wasn't joking about the kneecap thing, I actually thought about it and quite a bit more.  Then I remembered that if I'm choosing Christ, I have to die to self.  I must live a sacrifical life.

The Apostle John taught us well in his message in 1 John 3:7-24

"So, my dear children, don’t let anyone divert you from the truth. It’s the person who acts right who is right, just as we see it lived out in our righteous Messiah. Those who make a practice of sin are straight from the Devil, the pioneer in the practice of sin. The Son of God entered the scene to abolish the Devil’s ways.  People conceived and brought into life by God don’t make a practice of sin. How could they? God’s seed is deep within them, making them who they are. It’s not in the nature of the God-begotten to practice and parade sin. Here’s how you tell the difference between God’s children and the Devil’s children: The one who won’t practice righteous ways isn’t from God, nor is the one who won’t love brother or sister. A simple test.
For this is the original message we heard: We should love each other.
We must not be like Cain, who joined the Evil One and then killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because he was deep in the practice of evil, while the acts of his brother were righteous. So don’t be surprised, friends, when the world hates you. This has been going on a long time.
The way we know we’ve been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn’t love is as good as dead. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know very well that eternal life and murder don’t go together.
This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.
And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us."  The Message

Here John, like my dear friend has reminded me that I need to live in love not evil if I want to show I am a Christ follower.

Thank the Lord that our Heavenly Father sent His son; a man of flesh and blood to model before us what our Father wants us to do when faced with evil.

There are people in our lives that hurt us everyday.  People that inflict verbal, emotional and physical pain.  But we are no better than the evil they display if we are not walking in love.  I'm not suggesting that you stay in a situation that continues to cause constant pain, because I don't believe that is what God wants for us.  But we must forgive those who have caused the pain and to love them anyway.  Albeit from a safe distance.

So dear sisters as you create the safe barrier between yourself and the one who hurts you remember to love them anyway.  It's very difficult to try do this in our human nature that is why God gave us His Spirit.  It's supernatural to love under such circumstances, but God will give you the strength to do it through the Holy Spirit that lives in us.  If you do not have the Holy Spirit you cannot do it at all.

Dear Heavenly Father, please dear Lord forgive me for my ugly heart against this man.  Please help me to love him no matter what he has to say.  Lord help me to be Christlike in all circumstances with all people.  Help me to love my neighbor and so I pray for him too that your love would override his evil heart and he would be changed.  Bless his life right now and forgive him, for he knows not what he does.  And for my dear sisters who have struggled with this issue dear Lord, please forgive them as well and teach them to love thy neighbor in all circumstances.  In Jesus Name I pray AMEN.
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