Bible Verses to Help Deal with Anger...and A Happy Ending
Well, it's been a bit of time since this whole neighborly fiasco began. (For the original post, you can read how things went below.) So I took a big step and went over to meet, talk with, and apologize to THAT neighbor. Here is what happened.
First of all, after a GREAT deal of expense (yes, we will have a lot less money for the holidays this year--but we'll deal and concentrate on its meaning instead of materialism), time, and stress, some great friends of ours got the offending truck detached from the box, forklifted it onto a trailer, and hauled it away for us. We LOVE these people! (If this is the first time you are reading this story, it will make more sense if you continue reading---but the Bible verses are the whole point.)
After taking the VERY SCARY step of going to meet, talk with, and yes--apologize to, our neighbor for having such an ugly truck in the first place, things are looking up! He was feeling stressed out about the situation too, and honestly, any time you have rancor with neighbors, there is no part of that that's positive.
He expressed relief and gladness that I had stopped in. He apologized too, we talked, and I believe we have a much better understanding. I hope our neighborly relations with him will be a lot better from here on out....and perhaps (I hope) we can even be good friends someday.
If you want the full story (and especially the Bible verses, which kept me sane, and I believe actually solved the problem), just keep reading:
(I know this short story is very out of order, since I'm starting at the end here...and I hope that's ok.
The whole point of writing this was to remind myself and possibly others, how much God helps us, and can help us more if we just reach out to Him.
(If you are still reading, keep in mind, this next part of the post was written a couple weeks ago after receiving the Notice of Violation from the County.)
It all started last May, when our two horses joined our family. Bud and Ginger are both middle-aged Tennessee Walkers with the best personalities! We love them! My husband and I both grew up with horses during parts of our childhood, and we decided we wanted to create a life with horses now that our kids are grown with their own lives and children. We have been having an absolute blast these past six months, and we sure have learned and relearned A LOT. Mr. HHH and I are in our mid-50's, and neither of us has ridden or been around horses for at least 35 years! We are blessed to now live in an area where horses are allowed and around other "horse" neighbors who have become great friends and helpers with our horses these past months.
BUT, there is always "THAT" neighbor. I suppose we may all have had one of those at some point. You know, the guy who complains about everything. The guy who just doesn't even try to get along. He lives behind us, and up until May, we had never even spoken to him. He is not very friendly. From now on, I'll refer to him as Mr. POW (Piece of Work).
Before I start: This post is not meant to be negative. It's meant to explain an ongoing problem in our life here on the mountain with one particular neighbor. It's also meant to explain how I'm handling a ridiculous situation with as much serenity as I can muster....Sometimes you just have to deal.
When he noticed our first horse, Ginger, in her corral in our yard the day after we got her, he called the neighbor across the street and reported a wild horse in our yard. We live in an area with LOTS of wild horses, so sometimes this happens. The good neighbor laughed and explained that we were in the process of getting two horses, and this was the first one. THAT's when our troubles began.
First, he actually complained about the horses themselves, even though we live on horse property. We clean the corral daily, and they are not noisy. But he didn't like the thought of potential flies, which is completely understandable. After he discovered how clean we keep the area, he admitted there wasn't a problem. WHEW! We thought we were going to be ok. But this was just the beginning.....
A couple months later (Julyish) came the issue of hay storage. Even though we are in an arid climate, hay eventually needs to be stored in some type of container because of our snowy winters. After going back and forth about all our options (build a hay storage shed, get a Con-Ex box, borrow space in one of our neighbor's yards if possible), we came across a great deal on an old box truck which we decided would be perfect for storing our hay! We got it for only $400, too! Since there are a few other box trucks being used for storage in our little village, we assumed it wouldn't be a problem.
However, Mr. POW really lost it! We pulled the boxtruck into our deep yard cab first, so the hay is easily accessible near the corral. This is next to his fence line, unfortunately, but in an area where he has lots of natural trees and not in public view. Mr. POW just didn't like the view from his side of the fence. He's called us names, including "white trash," as well as sent group emails to the community, very embarrassing for us. He ended up making a complaint to the HOA, and they told him our truck is fine.
WHEW! Glad that was figured out, and once again we felt we were in the clear! So Mr. HHH went to work to make the storage vehicle more presentable as a favor to our neighbor. Even though we didn't have to, we painted it a desert toned color and placed new stained pallets around the outside like a little fence to cover the tires and part of the cab. Honestly, it looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. At least it's a great improvement.
You have to understand that in our tiny village of residents, people just don't complain about things like this. We all live with the knowledge that we are in this community for the bit of relative freedom and the semi-rural nature it affords. PLUS, the last thing people want is government interference up there. So if someone gets turkeys (ahem) or goats (ahem) or horses, or a Con-Ex box, or whatever, nobody says anything. It's actually expected that some will turn to raising some livestock. And for 99% of us up there, it's great!
The Current Saga
You can imagine how angry, hurt and shocked I was yesterday when I came home from work, got the mail, and in the mail was a NOTICE OF VIOLATION from the county demanding we remove the "inoperable truck." (It's actually operable, but nobody asked us about that. The tires just need to be inflated) The consequences of not abiding by this edict are fines of up to $10,000 and criminal prosecution. UNBELIEVABLE! Criminal prosecution!??!!! Needless to say, I was outraged because this was taking the situation a step too far. He still hasn't even had the decency to come over and talk with us.
Last night, after internet research on the county laws (a frustrating and indecipherable endeavor), discussions with multiple supportive members of the community, and a long talk with Mr. HHH about how to handle this, we just felt pure frustration. Also, the cost for us is out of range right now, and we were given just 2 weeks to get things taken care of. With the holidays looming, winter coming....well, you can see that this is not the best time for us to be changing up our hay storage plan.
I was just left with a burning, hateful anger simmering inside.
Have you ever felt that? It's almost debilitating. In fact, I could not sleep, my mind kept going to thoughts of revenge, and I just felt powerless. Feeling powerless is probably one of the worst feelings in the world. I am especially angry because Mr. HHH and I have seriously tried to make Mr. POW happy, to no avail. The WORST thing I felt, however, was shame. I really felt ashamed of the bad thoughts I was having. NOT a good feeling.
How I Handle Anger, Especially the Kind that Stems from Feelings of Powerlessness
After tossing and turning last night, keeping Mr. HHH awake, I finally confessed to feeling over stressed, angry, and scared. Mr. HHH is much more calm than I. He asked me why? Then he reminded me that we are going to take care of the problem, stay within the law (of course), and that God always handles everything....so don't worry. That helped a little.
What helped the most: There are these verses I turn to, and I haven't had to read them for angry reasons in a long time. So today, I read them, prayed over them, and meditated on them throughout the day. I tried to fill my soul with them. Walking around with this crazy hot, irrational anger is not healthy for anybody.
My Favorite Verses for Dealing with Anger:
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.
(How often have I turned myself into a fool, with actions that match, all because I didn't take that deep breath?)
But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (Oops!)
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, "Raca," is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, "You fool!" will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret--it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
(I really like that one.)
And finally, this one from Ephesians 4:26-31
"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
I just read these over and over until they sank in. When I reflected back on my ugly thoughts and feelings of yesterday and the worry and stress I allowed myself to feel, then deciding to read and reread these verses all day, I feel kind of silly about my reactions. I know that I'm human, and that I will make mistakes---but it's all ok because God loves me and gives me the Grace I don't deserve. Thank goodness!
Isn't it wonderful to be able to find peace, even during stressful times? I know this situation is not the worst others (or even we) have been through, but for us, with all we have done to get along with this neighbor, it's been a great learning lesson and reminder of where our peace truly comes from.
Speak with Kindness
I spoke with the Code Enforcement Officer today....without any anger, with an open heart and good will toward him. He was actually willing to grant us an extension and work with us by supplying us information about what the truck needs to be considered O.K. by county law. I am so glad that I had these thoughts about the verses above in my head and heart before I spoke to him....otherwise maybe the conversation would not have gone so well.
(So after reading the introduction to this post, you know by now the problem is solved. And hopefully, we have a friend out of all of this!)
This is a bit more open on this blog than I usually am. I hope I didn't offend anyone. However, I think this type of situation needs to be addressed now and then, whether you live on a large homestead, a tiny homestead, or even in a city homestead.
Have you ever dealt with situations with neighbors or others who have problems with your lifestyle? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
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I LOVE this book! It helped me get straight with how I set my expectations for relationships close and distant. Based on Biblical principles, it has been super helpful to me.
Another Bible based book...very helpful.
Brine Brown is an inspiring woman. She speaks of the damage of the shame we feel, especially as women. I realized after reading her books that I didn't even realize I was feeling shame. When you can recognize something for what it is, then you can make some amazing positive changes!