Our neighbors gradually clutter [read: trash] their front porch.
But when the mess spills over into their yard and driveway, the chaos begins to advance much more quickly.
Torn apart box springs and smashed TV’s and an old fish aquarium litter the premises and the slightly disillusioned piece of me honestly can’t help but wonder — are they trying to sabotage the sale of our house? Because a vacant property on one side of us, and a house and yard that look like theirs do on the other side, are not exactly screaming “This is the house you want to buy, peeps!”
They wake our son up at 5:30 this morning, standing on their front porch yelling because someone locked someone else out of the house.
During my kids’ naps, they pull their car up their driveway, just several feet from the north wall of our house, and blast rap music at full volume. And yell/rap along with it.
Keepin’ it real here: I am not thrilled. Also keepin’ it real? The way they don’t give a rip about the state of their home or their neighbors is discouraging. Angers me, even.
But I guess we want whoever buys this house to know what they’re getting into.
Sigh. Unedited thoughts here for y’all tonight.
How do you continue to love well when you’ve bent over backwards to serve and bless and the moment you don’t do what they want, they’re angry at you? How do you demonstrate the Gospel when their very lifestyle violates yours? When their entitled mindset and life-orientation threaten to swallow you whole?
Y’all, I wish the picture I was painting was of a beautifully budding, Gospel-centered friendship with our neighbors, despite our countless differences. I wish I was writing a story of lives being transformed. Of Jesus revealing Himself, capturing hearts, setting people free.
But that’s not the tale I’m telling tonight, and it’s hard sometimes not to feel like we’re failing here. We’ve tried to love and we’ve prayed and we’ve spoken life, and actually….
What if the difference God’s wanting to make is more in us right now than in them?
Don’t get me wrong — I do believe He wants to make Himself known at a transformative level in their lives.
But what if, right now, all this is so much more about us learning to cultivate internal peace, nestling right up close to His heart, feeling its holy rhythm and living to its beat in this place? What if it’s about not letting that rhythm be drowned out or thrown off kilter by the chaos around us?
Yeah… what if that?
Our friend Sarah arrives at our house at 8:25 this morning, takes over kid-loving duties so I can find a few hours’ worth of fresh air for my heart. I kiss my littles goodbye and take off driving.
Heavy inner city atmosphere gives way to open highway, which gives way to the ‘burbs, and I’d be lying if I said suburbs don’t feel like a slice of heaven to me in this season.
A mere twenty minute drive, and the contrast is stark.
I pull up to my dear friend’s house. Diane’s kids are grown and flown, and in her spare time, she loves on women my age, and has cultivated the most beautiful oasis of calm.
I enter to hugs and offers of still-warm scones and fresh fruit and yogurt. She prepares it all for me despite my “Oh, you don’t have to do that…” Asks me to please let her serve me.
I almost don’t know what to do with myself, but I know I need to receive, so I do. Even though it makes me squirm a little inside to be so thoroughly, extravagantly cared for.
She pulls a hammock out of a plastic bin in the corner of the backyard, sets it up next to the flower garden. I haven’t told her that hammocks are one of God’s and my secret love languages.
So I scrawl my heart nearly illegibly in my journal, munch my fruit and my scone, and lay quiet a while in the back yard, listening to waterfall and birds and wind chimes.
The sun climbs higher, and I move inside after 45 minutes or so. I play her piano and let the mingled notes flow free, a mixture of deep-heart-longing, and intercession for my sweet friend. Father, bathe this atmosphere even more in your peace. Your nearness.
Diane sends me home after a few hours with fresh flowers from her yard, and upon entering through my back door, I’m greeted with kisses from my favorite little people — followed a little later by angry text messages from our neighbor, the contents of which are best left to the imagination. I try to respond with honesty and a gracious heart, which only draws more anger so I let the conversation drop.
I do take note, though, of how little I’m rocked by her disapproval, and I pray silent prayers of thanks, along with requests for help, as I blow bubbles and fly around on the trampoline with my boy at dusk.
And maybe our house will take months yet to sell, and maybe God’s plan isn’t to airlift us out of the chaos and frustration of our geographical location any time soon. Maybe there’s more forming of Himself in our deep places that He wants to accomplish here.
But I know His heart for me is rest… rest… rest, child. And if I can hold a hammock in my heart, nestle deep into this cocoon of internal rest for as long as we’re here– I’m gonna be okay.
And we’re gonna make it through this season. We are. Because His grace is sufficient for this moment, and for the next, and the next.
And His power’s gonna be made perfect somehow, in all these places where we’re running up against brick walls and we straight up don’t know what to do.
And if we emerge into our next season knowing Him more deeply, rooted in Him more deeply, all this ridiculous limbo will have been so much more than worth it.