True Life: I Got Cussed Out By My Neighbors



When my wife and I have stuff to carry in and out of our house we put the dog out back so he doesn’t sneak by us and escape while we are going back and forth.  Which generally means he’s probably going to bark because he wants to be involved in whatever we’re doing. Yesterday, while we were moving my wife’s backseat back into her car, we put the dog outside like usual.  After three to four minutes of shuffling the seat back in, I went to get the dog.

When I opened the back door I could hear our neighbor, a couple townhouses down, yelling over the fence for my dog to shut up.  Two of the sentences I heard, and can repeat, were, “Shut your d*** dog up.” and “F***ing renters.”

At this point I realized I had two options; I can give this guy a taste of his own medicine (which I really wanted to do), or I could turn the other cheek and just say sorry.  Painfully, I chose the latter.

It’s easy to read and say “love your neighbor as yourself,” but when your neighbor hands you your butt on a platter it’s a lot harder to live.  We have had no prior conversations with these neighbors other than saying hello in passing, so its tough for me to understand what we, my dog included, would’ve done to incite such a nasty response. After sharing this experience with a friend he said, “You’d at least like to earn that kind of hatred.”

It often doesn’t feel very “satisfying” to do the right thing.  I stewed for about an hour and even had to take the dog for a long walk just to get over the fact that I wanted to go give them a piece of my mind, but I couldn’t.  I’m called to love always, even when it isn’t fun.

We’ve all have probably had similar experiences, when everything inside you wants to respond with the same kind of anger that’s been thrown at you.  We constantly live in the tension of “how I want to handle this” and “how Jesus has called us to handle it.”

It can be incredibly lonely when someone, for whatever reason, is just down right mean.  Even when you know it’s not deserved, it can be difficult not to own what they’ve said about you or at you, not matter how untrue those words are.

One of the great things about Jesus is that during his time on this earth as fully man and fully God He experienced anything and everything we do. Every temptation and every emotion we will ever deal with has been dealt with by Jesus before us.  We are following a God who has “been there, done that” to the max.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16

Jesus has been through it all so he will be faithful to give us the help we need when we need it.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

You are not alone.  The next time you are treated like crap, and want to respond by dishing out some more crap, remember that Jesus is strong enough to give us whatever it is we need to get through those tough moments.  Know also, that your bothers and sisters in Christ all around the world are struggling to represent Jesus well in similar moments in their own lives.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

How do you handle moments like these?  What would you suggest is helpful in remembering to always respond with love?


13 thoughts on “True Life: I Got Cussed Out By My Neighbors

  1. My initial desired action is to start lashing back. Thankfully that has come to last only a short while before I start to pray. Normally, at least I figure, their brash and rude behavior may stem from a deeper problem, and I usually pray that God works on that in them. Plus I try to remember that Jesus dealt with much worse so I can’t really complain in the end. I’m glad you were able to “turn the other cheek” in this case because I know it can be hard to do sometimes.

  2. ok, so we have this same thing happen to us all the time (with our dog and neighbors). I am not sure why barking dogs make “non-dog owners” so incredibly mad. But I like your post because there are so many times during the day (driving, being treated rudely in a store, or at work) when my first reaction is to get completely fired up and fire back. But as I am trying to grow and figure out what it means to be more like Jesus- I am trying to handle these situations better and better everyday. I can vividly remember my father getting sooo mad in these situations when I was young and thinking to myself that he must be handling them correctly. But I am trying to be a more Godly example to my own children. Not that my dad did anything “wrong”, he was actually a terrific father… I just hope that I am able to consider Jesus more in EVERYTHING that I do. Just putting that thought in your head when one of these situations comes up, seems to cool me off.

  3. Proverbs 15:1 is your answer. I’m glad you included it in your post.

    When I become angry at someone, I first pray for patience and understanding. But the thing that removes my anger faster than anything is praying for that person. Seriously, anger is gone in a puff of smoke when I pray for whoever has wronged me. Then, I get all kinds of wild thoughts that come up that are certainly not from my human mind:

    -Go to their house with a 6 pack of Coke as a peace offering
    -Give them a gift certificate to a local restaurant
    -Mow their lawn or shovel their sidewalk for them.

    This will help fulfill Proverbs 15:1 and may even pave the way for future friendships. Who knows, maybe it will even open them up to hearing the gospel!

  4. It is so easy to retaliate in the same spirit. What I have found that works for me is silently blessing them and releasing the love of God to them. So often when someone gets really angry, it reflects an issue with them not with the object of their wrath. Wounded people hurt others while healed people heal others. Apologizing and giving a soft answer motivated by love changes the atmosphere.

  5. I’m still perplexed as to how someone can equate a barking dog with home renters. Do the dogs of homeowners not bark? Ponderous…

    I have similar experiences while driving. Whenever someone inevitably cuts me off in traffic (I’ll hold back on a soapbox moment to discuss Richmond drivers), I still have to fight the urge to give them that one-finger wave or some other idiotic response. I’ve found that the deeper I grow in my faith, the less that I’m tempted to do so.

    Kudos to you for not only resisting the temptation to respond in kind to your neighbor but also for seeing a witnessing opportunity. It would be equally tempting to ignore this neighbor or to let his comments stay under your skin. Christ calls us to more than this…

    I’d challenge you to keep saying “hello” to him or more. Strike up a conversation. Introduce him to Murphy. Someone that acts to brashly is likely doing so to make up for some other inadequacy in his life. Christ will fill that void for him.

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