Loving Thy Neighbor

Yesterday I attended a couple of LDS Storymaker sponsored events which took place at the local libraries in Fillmore and Delta, Utah. There are three of us that almost always drive down together (when all three of are attending the event). Willard Boyd Gardner (Billy G), Tristi Pinkston and me. We have a blast talking about everything under the sun on the way to the event. And generally speaking, on the way back we will talk about anything that crosses our minds in order to keep the driver awake. This allows for some very strange conversations on occasions, the various purposes for peanuts being one of them. But last night as we left Oak City and the home of the esteemed author, Julie Wright, we took a wrong turn, as usual. Not because Bill is navigating, but because Tristi and I are convinced we know the way back and Bill invariably just rolls his eyes and heads in the direction we point. We are ALWAYS wrong, in case you’re wondering. (You’d think we would catch on to the fact that he was a cop for fifteen years, S.W.A.T. a portion of that and probably can find his way out of not only a brown paper bag, but probably even in Atlanta where this round city has named almost every street some variation of the word peach!)

Anyway, enough rambling. Last night we discussed about loving your neighbor. Not sure how we got to that topic, nonetheless, we arrived at it and had an interesting discussion. It bounced all over the place but we came to earth-shattering conclusion: sometimes it’s really hard to love your neighbor (okay, maybe not so earth shattering). Their tree comes tearing apart during a microburst and punches holes in the roof of your home, knocking down your back fence, crushing your swing set and their cats use your backyard as their very own litter box. Said neighbor won’t do anything, pay for any repairs or control their cats. What do you do? You love ‘em anyway.

The greatest example we have in the history of the world is that of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

“ Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, He brought to fulfillment the prophecies of the ages. Shepherds came with haste to adore Him. Wise Men from the East came bearing for Him precious gifts; the meridian of time had dawned. With the birth of the Babe in Bethlehem, there emerged a great endowment, a power stronger than weapons, a wealth more lasting than the coins of Caesar. This child was to be the King of kings and Lord of lords, the promised Messiah—even Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Thomas S. Monson, “The Way of the Master”, Ensign, Jan 2003)

As He hung on the cross, put there by friends and neighbors, He petitioned the Father to “forgive them for they know not what they do.”

My neighbor has not betrayed me. He has not nailed iron stakes into my hands and feet nor has he lifted me up on to the cross. It behooves me to forgive the hole in my roof, my broken down fence, his stupid cats and the swing set damaged far beyond repair. He merely sees things differently than me and that is not necessarily a bad thing, expensive, but not bad. (There is, however, the whole “act of God” thing with the insurance ocmpany.) There are great rewards in loving your neighbor, the very least of which is far more peaceful life.