A few months ago, I received an invitation to join an online neighborhood social media group. It even came complete with its own app for my smart phone. The invitation email went something like this: Krista, come and meet other neighbors in your community. Find out what’s going on around your area, so you can stay informed. So I joined the website. Now I have 24/7 access to all things neighbory in our area.
The first time I perused the website, I found a lovely sectional for sale. It now sits in our family room. What can I say, neighbors helping neighbors. And she had very good taste in furniture. A few weeks later, my husband asked a question about scorpions, and how to make sure we never come in contact with such critters. Fifteen comments later, he had his answer. And let me say, our perimeter is secure. I’m telling you, this site has been great.
Until last week. And now it’s not so great.
Oh my goodness me. I don’t even know where to begin. Last week, a kind soul, at least that’s how I picture her, posted on the website. She shared about a crime she had heard was happening in our community. Apparently there was a suspicious group of people casing and marking homes for potential break-ins. The suspects would leave a chalk marking of some sort under the doormat that would alert the said burglars of how secure the home was or wasn’t for a break-in.
My first thought was that this crime spree might be a hoax, but I went and checked under our doormat anyway. Much to my surprise, we did have a white chalk marking, but it was a straight line, not an X or an O, like I would have thought. I told myself the straight line must mean we are a secure home, and not a target for burglary.
I didn’t think much more about it until later that evening when I refreshed the post on my phone. FIFTY comments had been posted in about three hours time. I started reading. My heart even raced a little. Some claimed the security threat was probably a hoax. Others were alarmed. Many neighbors thanked the woman who had posted about the threat. One responsible neighbor even called the police, who later claimed it was a hoax, but a good reminder about being aware of what’s going on in the area. And then there was “Randy.” (That is not his real name.) I would like to call Randy another name, but it’s just not appropriate.
Randy is cynical, sarcastic, rude, inappropriate, a bully of sorts, and most likely an insecure individual who sits in the privacy of his own home, behind his computer, typing outrageous comments on social media sites. That’s just my humble opinion, though. If truth be told, we all know a Randy. He’s the type who attacks people with his words. He belittles others, embarrasses them, all for a few laughs. And when I say a few, I truly mean a very small handful of chuckles.
I went to bed that night so fired about Rude Randy. I wanted to give him a piece of my mind. I wanted to defend the sweet woman who, out of concern for her neighbors, had posted the alert to make us all aware. My youngest daughter even said, “Mom, let it go. Don’t be a Fix it Felix.”
The next morning I checked the website. Things seemed to have calmed down. There weren’t any new comments, and Rude Randy seemed to be silent. I went on with my day, being a little more aware. I locked my car, even though I feel it’s safe in my driveway. I made sure all our exterior doors were locked. I was thankful for the reminder to just be more aware of my surroundings.
My phone chirped at me at about 3:00 in the afternoon alerting me I had new messages on the neighborhood app. I opened the app, and sure enough Rude Randy was at it again. He wasn’t making comments on the original thread, though. Oh no. He had started about three new threads of his own, all of them mocking and making fun of the original post from the day before.
This guy needed to be stopped. To heck with Fix-it-Felix, I was going in. My keyboard lit up. I gave him a piece of my mind. I carefully crafted my comment, using words that were firm, and somewhat kind, but I got my point across. On this particular site, you don’t “like” comments, you “thank” people for their comments. I am happy to report I ended up with my “thanks” being in the double digits, and about 10 “atta girl” comments. And guess what? Rude Randy didn’t retaliate.
I went to bed that night with a smile on my face, gloating in my victory. I told my husband how glad I was that I stood up to Rude Randy.
And then the next morning, well, I’m not really sure what I felt. I didn’t have regrets for standing up to the neighborhood bully. I had truly felt led to say something, and that my motives were right. He was clearly out of line. I guess I felt disappointed in humanity. I know it’s just one very little annoyance in this very big world we live, but it bothered me.
I could take this blog post in many different directions. I could give you a Bible lesson about “loving your neighbors.” Like literally, since this is about a neighbor. I could share with you the importance of “turning the other cheek,” and not stirring up a hornet’s nest of attacks. I could research, and share with you, the appropriate times to come to someone’s defense, and when to let things go. I could even talk about the judgmental spirit of mine that just erupted in the above sentences. But honestly, I just don’t feel like writing all of that, or even hearing about it. Sometimes people are just dumb donkeys. They are mean, and hurtful, and selfish.
You know what? I think it’s okay to sit in the anger and bitterness for a while. I think it’s okay to not rush into forgiveness until our hearts are ready. Forgiveness is a process. I think it’s okay to talk to God candidly about people like Rude Randy, and wait for an answer of how to respond.
I learned something this weekend from one of my favorite pastors, who happens to be my father-in-law. He spoke of how our Heavenly Father loves each of us equally, but He relates to each of us differently. [Pause, and let that sink in.] He relates to each of us differently. God loves everyone. But we are all unique from one another, and so is our relationship with the Lord.
So when I put this thought in the context of the neighborhood website, or really any social setting, I realize that people are on a different journey than me. Some are in a relationship with the Lord; others are not. Those of us who are in a relationship with the Lord are all at a different place when it comes to our journeys. Some are quick to forgive. Others cling to bitterness and hold it tightly. Some defend the least of these. Some offend, and don’t realize it. But God.
He knows. He sees. He hears. And He’s so very patient with His children, no matter where we are in our journey.
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Turn to me and have mercy on me. Psalm 86:15-16a
Have mercy on us, Lord.