Saturday, December 29, 2012

Retaliate with Kindness

A couple months ago, we got some new neighbors.  They have 4 kids around the same ages as ours, and Ben and I thought it would be great to get to know them -- but then again, we feel that way about all our neighbors.  Our new neighbors don't speak the best of English, but that's okay because Ben and I are both fluent in Spanish, and they are from Mexico.

But all our efforts to make them feel welcome and be friendly seem to have been for nothing, because they will have none of us... at all.

About a week or so ago, I decided to make up a plate of homemade Christmas goodies to take over to them.  I filled it with sugar cookies, chocolate covered pretzel rods, and caramels dipped in chocolate.  Who could resist right?

I took the plate over and knocked on their door.  The lady of the house peeked out.  I could see her kids playing around she was fully dressed with makeup and everything, but she clearly didn't want to see me on the other side of the door.  I just smiled and held out the plate, "I just wanted to stop by and wish you all a Merry Christmas!" I said.  She reached out and snatched it, mumbled something I couldn't hear and slammed the door right on my face!  Almost literally, my nose was like 1/2 and inch away!

Wow, I thought.  That was weird...

At first, I have to admit, I was a little insulted.  Here I had taken the time to bake up yummy stuff for them and I didn't even get a "thank you."  (In case you are wondering, her mumble sounded NOTHING like "thanks," "thank you," "Merry Christmas"... or any of their counter parts in Spanish.

But I decided not to let a grumpy person ruin my Christmas holiday.  I did a nice thing, and had nothing to be ashamed of.  It even crossed my mind to do it again, just to see what they would do... like take over some homemade bread or something like that.

We went out of town for Christmas, and then ended up staying a few more days extra because of the bad weather.  Our little mini van may be pretty mighty on a good day, but NOT in bad weather.  While we were gone we got a lot of snow up here in Northern Utah.  Ben and I were worried because we had to have the snow shoveled off our driveway within 12 hours of snow fall or we could be fined... townhouse community rules.  I thought, well, maybe our neighbors will feel bad for being so rude and shovel it for us as a neighborly Christmas gesture.

Wrongo Bongo.

Not only did they NOT help us out, but they shoveled ALL their driveway snow onto our driveway!!  How rude can you get!?  Seriously!?  With all our own snow and their snow, we had almost a foot piled in front of us as we tried to get our van into the garage. I was absolutely livid!  I could not believe they could be so thoughtless and so rude.  Especially after all the effort we made to help them feel welcome into the neighborhood.  And at Christmas time, too!!! I seriously wanted to march right over there and give them a piece of my mind!  Then I thought, well, then, we can just shovel it all back to their driveway PLUS our own snow and see how that feels!!

Then I took some deep breaths and calmed down.  I am not a mean person.  And I know that I am really better than that.  So as I unloaded the van, and Ben worked on digging out our driveway, I said a silent prayer that I could be a more Christ-like person and figure out a way to rise above this pettiness I was feeling.  Just then I looked over to my neighbors on the other side of us and noticed that they must be out of town as well, because their driveway was covered in snow too.  I went out and talked to Ben about it.  We decided to go and shovel off their driveway and be the kind of neighbors we hope others will be to us. Karma and all that.

When it was all done, Ben and I felt that instead of retaliating on the mean neighbors and turning to serving others with kindness, in a way it healed our resentment and anger and we were able to let those angry feelings go.  And to put a little perk in it, while we were working on the neighbor's driveway, the mean neighbors came home and drove by us as we were serving.  They totally saw us.  Whether or not they realized what was going on or not, it doesn't matter.  What matters is that last night, we set an example of neighborly kindness... if they don't pick up on that, then they are truly missing out on some amazing opportunities to be a part of something greater than ourselves.  Love. Kindness. Service. Everything.

So the moral of this story is:  If someone is unkind to you, don't seek revenge, retaliate with kindness.  Next time I bake up something yummy, I am going to take some over... :) Mawhahaha!



Jenn said...

I hate that your neighbors are being grumps, but I love hearing about other extending the olive branch and doing the right thing. You are definitely setting a great example, not just for your kids, but for your entire neighborhood!

Cynthia said...

I totally loved this post! I love how you reacted.

Anonymous said...

I could feel the anger and frustration burning in my stomach for you. But you're right, killing them with kindness is much better.