From nuisance to neighborly
Faced with consistently disruptive next-door neighbors, a woman found that a spiritual perspective of what it means to be a neighbor made all the difference.
Recently, my next-door neighbor knocked on my door to apologize for some tire ruts that his landscaper had made in my yard. He said he would have the area repaired. I assured him it was not necessary, but he insisted.
My heart was touched by this expression of kindness. I recalled a couple of years earlier, when the people who lived where this present neighbor now resides seemed to be anything but concerned about others. They repeatedly parked in front of my driveway, making it impossible for my family and me to get out. Many times, my mail was not delivered because the mailbox was blocked. One time I returned from being out of town to find them partying on my patio!
Talking to these neighbors had resolved none of the issues. I turned to God for help. I’ve often found that prayer inspired by the Bible – including the words and works of Christ Jesus – as well as the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, brings inspiration that leads to harmony.
So I opened my Bible to gain a better understanding of who my neighbor truly is. On one occasion, Jesus shared a parable indicating that mercy is a neighborly quality (see the parable of the good Samaritan, Luke 10:30-37). I strove to be a good neighbor myself by being merciful to my neighbor.
To me this didn’t mean being naive or excusing bad behavior, but uplifting my view of my neighbors to see them as God made them: spiritual, God’s very image and likeness, as declared in the first chapter of Genesis. On another occasion, Jesus referred to his brother and sister as whoever does “the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 12:50). God, divine Love, is the Father-Mother of all of us. As God’s children, we are all brethren and are made to express God’s limitless love.
Expanding on this understanding of our spiritual relation to God, Mrs. Eddy wrote, “...Christian Science comes to reveal man as God’s image, His idea, coexistent with Him – God giving all and man having all that God gives” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 5). What God gives man (which includes all of us) is qualities of infinite Love. This is our real nature, the divine law written in our hearts, and the basis for expressing unselfishness, respect for others, thoughtfulness.
I resolved to trust God’s Word and not give in to frustration about the situation. I realized I could take a stand, could refuse to believe that man, created and governed by God, could do anything inconsistent with Love. God is supreme. And I saw that not only did this relate to my neighbor, but I also needed to better live these spiritual facts myself by being more unselfish, respectful, and governed by God’s goodness.
Gradually, as I prayed with these ideas, the situation improved. The neighbors stopped blocking my driveway, so I was able to receive my mail and my family was able to get where we needed to go on time. Never again did they use my patio.
I see this experience as a modest yet encouraging proof that each of us truly has “all that God gives,” and that God’s giving includes harmony and the ability to express unselfed love and respect for others. We can all serve as living proof of God’s Word, in refusing the temptation to see inharmony as inescapable and expressing God’s love in our own thoughts, words, and deeds.