When Loving Is Hard

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  And Jesus replied to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for others].’  The whole Law and the [writings of the]Prophets depend on these two commandments.”Matthew 22:36-40 (AMP)
I consider myself a pretty nice person on most days. I mean I get grumpy and I have days when I am sick or times when I am not happy, but all in all I think I am nice.

I moved from sunny southern California to the idealistic small town in the rural south with dreams of life being like Mayberry and ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’. Friendly neighbors greet you when you pull up with loaves of fresh baked bread and greetings of “If you need anything, you just let us know” were all still fresh in my mind as I am driving with my two-year-old twins over the mountains and into the storms that made up the journey.

We traveled across the country with severe storms and tornadoes ahead of us and more behind us. If we got too far ahead of the storm behind us we were stopped and in the middle of tornadoes to our left and right and not able to see anything in the middle of the desert. We huddled in Winslow Arizona in front of an old television in an even older Motel trying to watch the weather when the lights and air conditioning went out with a pop. 

Another time we were stopped at the only gas station in the only exit along the lonely route 66 to take refuge when the radio screamed tornado warnings along that town's railroad tracks and the highway and looking over to see our precious caravan of a minivan and moving van is following along the said railroad tracks. We were huddled in the van surrounded by diesel trucks when there was no place to take refuge from the storms. 

I cried all night wedged between the children’s car seats as rain sprayed from what seemed like a fire hose in every direction at once every window in the van and the wind blew and shook the car violently. I prayed, and cried and prayed some more… This trip was not what I dreamed it would be. It was not turning out like I hoped it would be and I found myself just praying…Lord! What am I doing here?


We made the very tough journey and to our friends home where we would stay until we found a home. When we did my mother and husband fell in love with the house but it was not my dream. It was not where I wanted to live but we bought the house and we moved in. I met the neighbors and I remember telling her how excited I was to get to know people and how we wanted to have the neighbors over to a barbecue like we did back home in Southern California. The neighbor looked at me like I was a talking squirrel and then proceeded to tell me that this was not THAT kind of neighborhood and THAT is exactly why we moved here. 

My little amount of hope that this would work out like a windsock that lost its wind fell. I smiled and made excuses and headed back home. She was right; this is NOT that kind of neighborhood. I remember praying again; Lord… what am I doing here?

Over the years living here I have tried to teach the girls and to live out the scripture where we are called to love our neighbor. We have baked bread for the new neighbors; we have made cards for people and cooked meals when they were ill or injured and have mowed lawns, babysat pets, and watched over children, but that neighbor lady’s words still ring true. This is the most unfriendly neighborhood I have ever seen. Someone here has maligned us, they have spread rumors, injured and killed our pets, stolen from us, and outright ignored us. It has been hard to live through and not get bitter. I wonder often why we ended up here and I still ask God why I am here.

The truth is even though it has been more awful than good I have to believe that we were brought here for a reason. That maybe we were a light in the darkness in this strange place and when we leave, I pray that the light we showed will remain. I think that is all we can hope. That our lives, no matter how small, how insignificant to us and our own eyes; that in the light of eternity it will make a difference.

2 comments:

  1. My heart breaks for you! I will pray for friendlier neighbors to move in near you soon, and for God to use you where you're at. {{BIG Hugs - from a Southern girl who knows there ARE friendly Southerners out there!}}

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