A GENTLE ANSWER TURNS AWAY WRATH…ESPECIALLY IN OUR OWN HEARTS
“It’s amazing to see how God has changed my response to people, even when I’m treated unkindly by them. We have a neighbor who has lived next to us as long as we have lived in our home. She keeps to herself mostly, but when the opportunity arises, I wave to her or say “hello.” I noticed early on that she did not appear very friendly, nor did she wave back or respond to my greetings. Instead she often sent angry notes over the fence about the position of our fence or being able to see our dog in her dog run. It seemed like she was looking for any reason to direct her anger at us.
Before I accepted Christ, my blood would have boiled if someone treated me this way and I would have dedicated hours (maybe even days) to crafting the perfect response like a harmless and slightly passive aggressive revenge to this neighbor’s mean notes to us. The anger and hate would dominate and infect all my conversations and cause others to commiserate with my plight, much to my satisfaction.
This summer we received another nasty note about our children throwing their toys over the fence. I read the note and as I watched my children’s eyes studying my reaction to her note, I felt something different stirring in my heart. It wasn’t a need to match her hatred. I recalled the several times I’d read in the Bible to “love your neighbor as yourself” and I chose to teach Connor and Charlotte to pray for people with such sadness in their hearts. I chose to not call our neighbor bad names or spit out negative statements about her, as I may have done in the past. I don’t want my children to be vengeful, hateful people with no empathy for others…even when others have acted that way toward them. As easy as it is to succumb to matching hate with hate, the Holy Spirit can help me fight against that evil…for myself…for my kids. There is clearly something very sad in the heart of my neighbor. I have decided to pray for her and keep being as nice as I can, even if it she doesn’t return the kindness. We had beautiful flowers in our backyard this summer so I clipped some and wrote her a kind note. Thank God for His work in my heart!