When we moved into our new neighborhood about 9 months ago, there was this old(er) guy across the street that seemed very grumpy... okay, he looked down-right mean. Money was tight, so every evening I would load up the Camry with boxes and misc. junk(which fills up quickly), drive 40-45 minutes and start unloading. I did this every night, sometimes several times a night.
When I would show up to our new home, this older guy would stare at me with his intense eyes. I would say, "Hello." He would briefly respond and then either walk away or turn back to what he was doing. I kept thinking to myself, "Sheesh, this guy is nosey and he doesn't seem very friendly." Well, about a week of unloading our stuff, the neighbor guy starts walking over to me with a frown on his face and with his big, intense eyes staring at me.
I was thinking, "Oh boy, is there going to be some kind of confrontation? What is this guy going to say to me? What am I going to say to him?"
Grumpy guy, with a loud, gruff voice, "Hey, you seem like you have a big family."
I replied, "Yes, we have three kids."
Grumpy guy, "Well, how many trash cans do you have?"
I awkwardly responded, "Just this one trash can, here."
Grumpy guy answers back, "That's not enough- that will fill up too fast. I have two trash cans you can have."
I was stumped and uncomfortable, but I pushed my words out, "Thank you very much. Are you sure?"
Not so grumpy guy, "Yeah, I don't use them."
Grateful, I said, "Thanks again! We will put them to good use!"
There's a life lesson to be learned here. Of course the old primary school statement, "Don't judge a book by it's cover." The greater lesson is this: Don't judge others so easily. We don't know what battles they've been through in life. We don't know what kind of crappy day they may have had. We don't know their past and the hurt they've gone through.
As I have invested time in this hard-faced, German friend- I've found out that he's been through two messy divorces. For many years, he works very hard with his hands as a carpenter to have very little to show for it.
Here's an update about my grumpy friend. He has given us garden tools, we have swapped home-cooked meals, we've had great conversations standing outside in our lawns. I've asked him about his beliefs and invited him to church.
Sharing God with people sometimes takes time; it took me about 6 months. Putting my guard down and finding time to talk to him has allowed me to get to know more about him and his life... this has opened up deeper conversations.
"Even in your lawn, you can find the cross." ~ HLJ
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