“I glanced out my bedroom window at the six dogs in my new neighbor’s backyard, anger heating my veins. They were all sizes, always racing around, barking at the mailman and eating up her flower beds. I couldn’t imagine anyone in their right mind wanting so many to take care of. Knowing God instructs us to love our neighbors, I prayed heavily, admitting I was falling short. I prayed for patience and for her to put the house up for sale and for a nice dog-free neighbor to take her place. Yet after every ‘Amen,’ I went right back to resenting her and her canine menagerie.
“I avoided my zookeeper neighbor as much as I could…until I ran into her at the grocery-store checkout line. Of course, her cart was filled with sacks of dog kibble. She recognized me and introduced herself as Sarah.
“I tried to plaster on a smile, but annoyance got the best of me and I commented on her many rambunctious dogs. Her eyes gleamed with joy. ‘I foster pups for the local animal shelter and I specialize in training them to be service dogs for special-needs children,’ she replied, proudly. ‘You might say it’s the calling God placed on my heart. You should come meet them!’
“A mixture of shock and shame pooled in my stomach. I was so busy judging her and praying she’d go away that I had been blind to her loving heart. Lord, what other wonderful things have I not seen because of anger? I thought sheepishly.
“As the cashier rang up her bags of dog food, I grabbed my wallet. ‘Let me,’ I insisted, with a genuine smile. ‘Consider it a housewarming present.’ As the weight of resentment lifted, I promised God to listen next time…and see with my heart first.”
—Kay Simon, 62, Erie, PA