Friday, January 9, 2009

Neighborly Challenges

Friends, we have this neighbor.

He's the guy who makes my heebie-jeebies flag wave on a fairly consistent basis. And his second wife doesn't live with him anymore but they carry on as husband and wife in all neighborhood introductions - this is just weird to me.

When he moved back into his house last winter, Charlie Brown and I just kept a low profile and hoped our paths wouldn't cross too much.

Recently though, Charlie Brown did some work for him on his truck, and the door of interaction has swung widely open again - I find him outside every time I'm taking out trash and conversation is forced on me, he's over here asking a question, etc, etc.

Yesterday while walking the kids to the bus stop, he was returning home from work and rolls his window down. "So, ah, I'm having a BCS Bowl party at my house tonight - you guys should come."

I smiled, and muttered something about checking with Charlie Brown about our schedule, then thanked him for the invite.

Later, I told Charlie Brown and wondered how to get out of it. "We could just say the kids need to go to bed early tonight and get their homework done - which is true...." we thought. Charlie Brown thought he might pop in just to save face a bit, and we were pleased with ourselves.

For awhile.

Charlie Brown called me later, "You know, we should probably just go on over. This is exactly what we were talking about last night at church. We don't have to stay too long, but he's reached out to us and it would be dumb of us to not take this opportunity."

He was right. At church we'd been talking about how we as Christians often shirk the opportunities to be relational and share God's love with those who are not in our "circle." Not a in a preachy, "Hey, sinner, do you know Jesus?" way, but more just sharing our lives with those with whom we don't go to church and/or don't necessarily "like." One of the ladies in class put it best as she commented that we're all about supporting a brother/sister who is struggling on Sunday morning, "but you know, don't call me at 11 at night for months on end when this struggle pops up for you." Ouch.

Way to go Charlie Brown for stepping up and being the spiritual leader of our home! I am so impressed at his growth, particularly in his recognition and determination to do the right thing of late.

I went over and told our neighbor to expect us over there at the start of the game. He then asked if he could borrow our card table to put the drinks on. I obliged and as he came over to get it, I got to hear a story told about his tv programming that I knew was false, but what good would it have done to call him out on it then and there? Besides, this guy makes me nervous, remember? And in the scheme of things, it's sad that he feels like he has to make up stories (he blamed his lack of satellite on his former tenants when I knew that his on again off again wife took the receiver in question when she moved out) about things as petty as tv programming - if he feels he needs to do that, then so be it.

We went, and had mostly a great time. Some other neighbors and a couple who used to live by us were all there and it was nice. Punkinhead had some issues with the kids (he was the youngest boy - all the kids closer to his age were girls and so he tried to play with them, as the big boys were watching the football game, but the girls were all tweeny and mean girl-ish to him) but eventually they meshed and he didn't want to leave when we said we needed to go at half-time.

We had some opportunity to share how God is blessing us - the baby, my recent decision to stay at home - and I just pray that we are capable of becoming the "salt of the earth" that we are called to be for Him.

© 2008 Ramblings of a Red-Headed Step-Child. All Rights Reserved


  1. It can feel so risky to step out as a Christian. It's so easy to talk the talk with other Christians but not as easy with people that freak us out or annoy us. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  2. I hate to be the downer voice in this, but women in general often ignore that voice within us warning us away from a bad (read dangerous) situation because we feel the need to be nice to the person who is causing the voice to speak to us.

    This man causes that tiny voice to speak to you. Please listen to that voice. You know he's got rage and boundary issues - please do not put yourself in harm's way.

  3. How were you able to stay home...what kind of finanial cutbacks did you have to make? I would love to do this...but don't see how!

  4. Crazed mom - it was my husband's reminder, not mine ;)

    Liz - I love your concern for me and I don't disagree with you. He has boundary issues, but I don't. We are being nice, but at a distance and being very, very watchful, guarded, and only going to be with him when there are plenty of others around (read: my children and I will never be alone with him) Additionally, I was thinking about my former work last night (homeless outreach worker in mental health context) and people used to say the exact same thing to me about my job - and God's taken care of me in these situations and provided me with the skills to handle them.

    Tracey - you know, between day care and commuting costs this adjustment has been almost a financial wash. I cashed out my retirement acct as it was pretty minimal to pay down some debts that were hanging over us. We have all but quit eating out (easy enough to do as I actually enjoy cooking so long as I have the energy to do it!), etc. etc. I didn't make so much that it was absolutely necessary for our standard of living for me to keep working.

  5. I'm with Liz. God has given you discernment. Use it!

  6. Let me just say good for you for being the better person, red. But here's the thing: I, personally, will not hold it against you if the creepy flag feeling wins over! :-)