Driving home from work one day I swung my truck into the entrance to the neighborhood where I lived. I intended to deliver a rent check to the main office that day but as I rounded the corner I encountered two minivans parked dead center in the road next to the neighborhood office. Their drivers, presumably mistaking the street for a parlor, were engaged in leisurely conversation. They may have even been sharing tea and scones, though I can’t be sure. In the knick of time I swerved, missing both minivans by inches.
As I slowed for the stop sign at the bottom of the hill I realized that in the excitement I’d forgotten to drop off my rent. I turned my truck around in the intersection and drove back toward the tea party. The woman in one minivan signaled me to stop, which I did. “You idiot,” she yelled angrily. “Slow down! You nearly hit me just now!”
I responded with the first words to flash into my mind. “Hey lady, if you didn’t treat the road like a parking lot ...” Then I turned into the office lot and parked. After delivering my rent check, I saw the lady park her minivan and get out. It was then that I recognized her. She was one of the neighborhood managers. She was a lady who could tell me I had 30 days to pack my bags and leave.
I avoided her from that day forward.
Several weeks later...
The group of mailboxes for my street were located on the left side of the road on the far side of the sidewalk. Every day I had to park on the opposite side of the street and get out to retrieve my mail.
I noticed that the sidewalk in front of the mailboxes sloped gently up from one driveway and then back down again at the driveway of the house next door. I reasoned that this was a more efficient way to fetch my mail. All I had to do was drive to the opposite side of the road and run my driver’s side wheels up onto the sidewalk. Then I would simply roll down my window to retrieve my mail.
The technique worked well for a couple of weeks until the day the owner of the home behind the mailboxes stormed toward me. I won’t repeat exactly what he said but his words colorfully informed me that I should stop driving on the sidewalk.
A nasty response instantly formed in my mind but this time I did not succumb to them. Instead I said, “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”
Those few words were much harder to say than the words I’d bestowed upon my neighborhood manager just weeks before. But these words, so difficult for me to say, stopped my neighbor in his tracks.
My neighbor, suddenly confused, had to search for different words than he had anticipated using. “Well, OK,” he said finally, and went back inside. I drove off the sidewalk and home.
Later that same day I saw my neighbor outside washing his car. I walked to his house. “I just wanted to say again that I’m sorry for driving on the sidewalk.” I smiled sheepishly. “By the way, I’m Jeff.” He smiled back. “I’m Rob.” He shook my hand and we were friends from that day forward.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” I see in retrospect how excellent that commandment is.