My neighbors are in a feud.
One of them has a bunch of dogs that bark all night. The other one has a job and a life that he would love to enjoy, but can’t because the neighbor’s dogs keep him up.
I only know about this because the sleepy neighbor has taken to writing long emails in the middle of the night, begging the other guy to shut his damn dogs up, and sending them to the entire community. His letters are filled with pleading for the dog-man’s cooperation, his help, his attention to the matter, anything. It’s obvious from these lengthy emails that he has tried everything he can think of, with no results. Talking to the dog owner privately, going quietly to the little Home Owners Association for assistance, even talking to the dogs, all to know avail. So now he just emails all of us, hoping that someone will take notice and help him get what he needs – rest.
The whole thing is sad.
I’ve watched his desperation grow. His original messages are polite, but appropriately direct – Now they just sound pissed-off. And hurt. And a little frantic.
I can’t blame him for feeling that way. The guy needs some sleep.
Quite frankly, when I don’t get enough sleep, I can be a real bitch… Ok. Admittedly, I can be a bitch even when I’ve had plenty of sleep, but getting no sleep really intensifies the bitch situation at our house. Ya know?
It’s funny, because El Chupacabra and I have been talking a lot about this kind of thing, lately — about making sure that we’re each giving the other what we need. Honestly, we’ve been pretty neglectful of each other, and it’s gone on awhile. Things had gotten pretty bad between us because we were both begging the other person to listen, to act, to step up and fill the gap where we needed help. And in our own stupid ways we were each like our poor, tired neighbor saying, “Excuse me. I’ve had ENOUGH… I need your help. I’m counting on you and you’re not there for me.” And like our neighbor, our cries fell on deaf ears and our desperation grew.
The problem with desperation is that if you ignore it long enough, it will grow into contempt. And contempt is where the shit hits the fan… *ahem*… So to speak….
I have to admit that I tend to be more like the neighbor with the barking dogs; oblivious to the people around me, ignorant of their needs. I have a tendency to think that if something isn’t bothering me, then it’s not bothering anyone. I’ve allowed El Chupacabra to feel neglected and unloved because I lean toward being more concerned with my own agenda than being a wife who plays a pivotal role in the development of her husband. I’m selfish. It’s ugly.
When I got to the last line of my neighbor’s letter this morning, I actually cried.
It says “PEACE, SIR, PEACE PLEASE…. I need to sleep. I NEED TO SLEEP…DO SOMETHING…”
And I felt his desperation for the one thing we all seem to need… Rest.
It pained me that I haven’t been a source of peace and rest for my husband. In my self-centeredness, I’ve let his desperate pleas for love and attendance go unanswered, allowing them to fall into contempt. My tired, hardworking husband was trying everything to get my attention and I had been too wrapped up in my own crap to see it. I know, now, that he hasn’t been at rest in our relationship… and that really, really sucks.
I’m not sure what I can do to help my neighbor with the dog situation. But I do know – after some long and hard, but good, conversations – that I can be a better bearer of Peace and Rest to El Chupacabra. I think there’s a lesson in there about loving our neighbors, but instead, I’ll leave you with this, as this is what I’m praying for all of mine, today:
for he shields him all day long,
and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.”
Are you finding rest?… Are you offering it?