I live in a gated community with forty houses. All houses are attached, so I have neighbors in front of me, behind me and on both sides. Rationally speaking, that is the worst idea known to men. I hear pillow talk from the neighbors next to my bedroom, people showering at 5 am on the bathroom side, people chatting underneath my bedroom window and every noise the kids make on the backyard attached to mine.
I won't lie, it bothers me. Especially because I am always so concerned about not making any noise. More than wishing they would be quiet, sometimes I just wish they were more considerate.
And then I got a new neighbor. Her house is southeast of mine, but our backyards connect. She spends the entire day on her backyard, doing house chores or working as a hair stylist out of her backyard. And from the moment her three girls, all under ten, wake up to the time they go to bed, she screams at them. I am not joking. Or exaggerating.
She screams threats of beating them up (although she never follows through, thankfully), tells them just what an idiot they are and tends to add an absurd amount of profanities into every other sentence. She always, always, always sounds so mad. So frustrated. At the end of her rope.
And for a long time, I hated her. I hated how she talked to her girls. How she was constantly scarring them for life. How she was unable to show love. How she was unable to realize that the entire community can hear her. How she could at least keep some naughty words out of her rants. All I wanted to do was report her to the manager, to the police, and make her feel horrible, just like she does to her daughters.
Until God pointed out to me how similar we are. How I lose my temper with my dogs. How I get frustrated. How I have no idea of what her life is like. How I have no idea of what motherhood is like. And how He calls me to love. Not judge. Love. Not hate. Love.
So now I can see how He does use everything for His glory. A noisy neighbor goes from being a disturbance to being a chance to show Christ. A lesson on being a kind, gentle spoken mom. An opportunity to extend grace to a tired mom and joy to some ignored children.