We live in a half of a duplex. Which we bought 5 1/2 years ago when we were surprised to find out we were pregnant and needed some room to grow. We said goodbye to our one bedroom apartment- all 740 sq ft of it- and sought a clean and manageable abode. After touring many houses we could hardly afford and in no way wanted to buy due to their lack of baseboards, slanted and leaking roofs, or weird sauna rooms in the back of the basement, we bought this place.  A remodeled and totally updated half of a duplex. It’s been great. I love where we live geographically with our neighborhood and easy access to running routes, shops, restaurants, family, and “my” HyVee. What I don’t always love are my neighbors.

But, I want to love them and know that Jesus expects this of me. It’s in this realm that I feel most challenged and most in tune with what Jesus really does probably want from me- loving people that aren’t easy for me to love. I often have good intentions of loving them but almost always fail in executing those intentions. It’s deeper than my head. I’ve tried to think of all the reasons to have patience and peace towards them. This is not enough-I have to have a change in my heart, through my feelings, and in my behavior.

Yesterday I feel like I failed again. One neighbor is in 6th grade and leads the life of a much older teenager. My heart breaks for this kid. I’ve see him having to fight battles that he didn’t create on his own with “weapons” of angry words, and rebellion. He’s alone in tangible and intangible ways.

He was smoking on his deck yesterday while I was outside playing with my small children. When I finally decided to wander over there, instead of asking him how he was doing, I asked him WHY he was smoking. No matter that it was a joking voice, meant to be congenial and friendly but still convey the gravity of smoking as a 13 year old and that his body was worth more than that smoke. I left the interaction feeling bummed. I wish I would have said Hi instead of WHY.

More on the neighbors to come I’m sure. And hopefully there will be a difference in my head and heart that comes out through attitudes, feelings and behaviors by then.

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