Yesterday morning I bundled Levi up to go play outside — get some fresh air and a change of scenery. We walked out the door and were immediately and rudely greeted by a neighbor. I’ve never spoken with this woman before, so I was taken aback and started to get defensive.
Her daughter lives in the condo next to ours; I’ve talked with the daughter a few times but she tends to keep to herself and I never push a conversation. I had mentioned to her months ago that we used to live in the condo she now has, that we had moved next door for various reasons.
Her mother apparently knew that we had lived there, and now had a bone to pick with me. Why doesn’t the heat work well? Why is this broken? We have the same landlord, don’t we? Why is he hard to contact?
I had only stepped outside in hopes of distracting Levi and burning some of his energy. I wasn’t prepared for a crabby, snarky lady to start firing questions at me! As I held Levi’s hands and walked around, I did my best to answer her questions politely and assure her that the landlord is a nice man and people aren’t out to get her or her daughter.
Inside I was trying to diffuse my anger, as she was literally pulling apart everything I said while being incredibly rude and snotty toward our landlord and his real estate agent. I kept walking with Levi around the back of the condo, so we could play on the hill for a bit before coming back inside.
She was still outside puttering, and made a somewhat lame attempt at a positive comment while I was walking toward our door. I half-smiled, responded quickly, and went inside.
Later that afternoon and again today, I’ve been thinking about the interaction and how unhappy with life she must be. Finding something wrong with everything and everyone? Oof.
I’ve been convicted and praying that I would see her as God sees her. A friend of mine once said, “hurting people hurt people.” It’s true. We can be aggressive, either passively or actively; we can lash out and hurt people before they have a chance to hurt us. We can put up walls before anyone has the chance to see us for who we are, because we’re afraid or angry or bitter.
There are so many reasons why hurting people hurt people. We may never know; we may watch it happen, we may be the recipient — but we may never know exactly why someone acts the way he/she does.
So we extend grace. We answer politely and smile anyways. We give the benefit of the doubt, and we listen. And maybe the trickiest part (for me, at least) — we don’t take it all personally.
Have a great afternoon, friends. :)