Love Your Neighbor
By Ray Littlefield
I frequently go for morning walks in my neighborhood and usually vary the route to keep it interesting; my housing development connects with many others so this is not difficult. However, there is one street, about a quarter of a mile long, that is marked “Private Road” on one end, and the other end has a barrier to prevent vehicle (but not walking) access. I had made this road part of my walk perhaps a dozen times without any issue but recently had an unpleasant encounter. A dog dragging a leash came into the road and confronted me aggressively, barking and showing its teeth, to the point where I felt that if I turned my back, I would be attacked. This went on a few minutes, attracted the attention of a couple of men, and eventually the elderly lady that owned the dog. She finally captured the leach and led “Rusty” away but then one of the men proceeded to inform me, in a very unfriendly manner that I was trespassing on private property and if I ever came down that street again, he would call the sheriff.
I simply walked away but was agitated that I had taken abuse for what I felt the dog/dog owner had initiated. This bothered me for a day or so and I admit I wasn’t thinking nice thoughts about that unpleasant man. Yes, I even briefly entertained thoughts of retribution. (I won’t discuss the details.) I eventually realized I was letting some stranger rob me of my peace and knew what I needed to do. As I prayed, I asked God for forgiveness for my attitude, then prayed for and forgave that man. I then told God that if there was any way I could help this man in the future, I would.
Living in this fallen world with people who don’t always have Christian attitudes can be challenging but it sometimes gives us opportunities to forgive, to be peaceful instead of angry, and, yes, to love our neighbor.