For a year, our family had the luxury of renting a home from a family friend in a quiet neighborhood. On one acre, we were livin’ the life. I opened the door and the dog(s) (before our precious Baxter became dinner for some coyotes) would disappear into the lush ravine, and Roen would take off down the driveway to wander the neighborhood. He usually marched straight to the goats. There were 8 goats to choose from in the neighborhood. Usually he chose the steepest driveway to hike up to see the 4 goats at our favorite neighbor, Marcie’s house, who graciously let us wander around her mini petting zoo. We’d pick fresh lemons and oranges from our neighbors trees on the way back from our neighborhood adventure. Often times we’d enjoy breakfast outside overlooking our green view, listening to nothing but the wind and an occasional bahhh from the goats. There was no sound of cars going by, no lawnmowers right outside my window, and although the low airplanes that flew by rattled the house, for the most part, we had complete privacy and peacefulness in our corner of the cold’e’sac down our long driveway.
When our lease term was coming to an end, we knew we needed to find a place quickly. A house in our price range didn’t exist, so when we found a duplex in a safe neighborhood, we jumped right on it.
Now here I am, two weeks later, and although my decor’ on the walls and comfy reclining couch makes it feel like home again, the neighbors on the other side of the wall drive us bonkers. I can almost make out what the family is saying between the paper thin walls, and probably could if I were fluent in Spanish. I can hear when they run their water, when their toddlers are having a tantrum, when they slam a door, I can hear it all.
I keep telling myself it’s only temporary. They’ll be gone in a few months and we’ll get quieter neighbors. We’re saving money by living here and it’s the perfect size home for our family. But is it worth my sanity? Just a couple weeks and I am already so over it. Over them! But it’s not all about me.
That family that I so badly wish would move out early is a family of 6. Four young kids, a mom and a dad. That family of 6 is sharing a one bedroom house.
The oldest who has to wake up for school early in the morning while the toddlers scream at 11 o’clock at night is probably over it. Those toddlers who have to wait until mom and dad are ready for bed at 11 at night because they share a room are probably over it. That mom who cares for 4 children while her husband gets a break from the chaos at home to go to work is probably over it. That dad who comes home from a long exhausting shift only to be crowded in a small home with tantrum throwing toddlers is probably over it.
So often we complain about others without changing the perspective. I always felt like I was pretty good at putting my self in other peoples shoes as a kid (metaphorically speaking), but I lost some of that benevolence with the stress that adulthood brings. There shouldn’t be excuses, however. We should always look at the other picture and show compassion for those in less fortunate circumstances. Life is way too short to be bitter about trivial things and only think of ourselves. So for now, as far as hearing the life on the other side of the wall and getting worked up over their lack of empathy for my napping toddler or my quiet time when I’m doing schoolwork, I’ll just have to get over it.
Mark 12:31 “The second is this: ‘You shall love love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”