One of the things that’s been on my mind quite a bit lately is walking in love. I’ve had several conversations this week with fellow believers who are struggling with walking in love with their spouses, rebellious children, and mean co-workers. Their struggles hit home because I had a love walk challenge this week as well.
One day while cleaning I heard my neighbor outside mowing his lawn. My neighbors are relatively new. They have only been in the home for about six months. I find them to be cordial and speak when spoken to but do not volunteer conversation. When I was finished cleaning, I went outside to take out the trash. When I walked on the side of the house to put the trash in the trash can, I saw that the entire length of my house, from the back all the way to the front was plastered with clumps of wet grass. It started at the ground and extended up about 10 feet high. When I say the house was plastered with clumps of grass, I don’t mean a few grass shavings I mean if you rubbed your hand on the side of my house you would get a handful of long wet grass.
I can honestly say that my initial reaction was not love. I said, “Awww man! I can’t believe this!” When I glanced at my neighbor’s house, his house was just fine. It was just my house that was plastered with wet grass. What contributed to my anger was the fact that his house was perfect. So, this meant that he had to direct his lawn mower in a way to keep his house clean and my house plastered. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I turned around and looked over my shoulder in his driveway, and I could see that he was not home.
As I stood on the side of the house, I had to ask myself a question. Was this a battle I wanted to fight? Does it matter who started it? No, I thought, it matters how it is handled and how it ends. I decided I wanted a peaceful solution and to do that I would walk in love, no matter what his response or reaction is. I concluded that every encounter does not have to result in retaliation. So, I changed my focus from anger and started praying. I prayed while I grabbed the hose and prayed while I was washing the grass off the side of the house.
Just as I finished my neighbor pulled into the driveway. Apparently, he had mowed the lawn and then went to get some pizza. I waited for him to get out of his truck, and then I walked over to him, and I told him what I found. Showing little concern for what he did, he simply said, “Oh, next time I’ll try to pay more attention. My lawnmower broke so I borrowed my Dad’s, and his was missing an attachment.” That was it. No apology. No statement that he intended to clean it. He just said he would pay more attention and he went into the house.
As I thought about it, I asked myself if I would feel better if he had apologized? Would I feel better if he showed remorse? I can honestly say; I do not think so. I do not need him to make me feel better by apologizing. I feel better because I walked in love.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34