“I felt the piercing stare of my elderly neighbor, Julia, as I walked my dachshund past her house. ‘I hope you’re picking up after that beast!’ she snapped, as she pointed to my poor dog with a bony, accusing finger. I simply gritted my teeth into a smile, waved and nodded, trying to hide my annoyance. Ugh, she is so crotchety! I thought as I hurried back to my side of the street.
“Later that week, I was awoken by banging on my front door. I opened it to find Julia, scowling as usual. ‘There were too many cars parked in front of your house last night—one blocked part of my driveway!’ she moaned. I bit back a sigh, apologized and told her it was my Wednesday night Bible study and that we’d be sure not to park on her side of the street again. Then on a whim, I asked, ‘Would you like to join us next week?’ ‘Mmmph!’ she snorted and walked away. I fought back the hateful thoughts, but they shot through my mind anyway. What is her problem? She is so…awful!
“That next Wednesday, my Bible study group was about to begin when I heard a knock at the door. I stiffened when I saw it was Julia, fearing she’d called the police about all the cars parked outside. But to my surprise, she asked if there was room for one more in our group. I nodded and she sat down and quietly introduced herself. ‘I have not been very kind to you,’ she said, her eyes filling with tears. ‘I lost my husband, daughter and my dog in the past two years and I have been so angry…especially at God. Can you help me?’
“Shock rattled through me as I realized I’d judged her when I knew nothing about her. I hugged her tightly and said, ‘I’m pretty sure the Lord has big plans for us to help one another.’”
—Mary Beaumont, 47, Brookings, SD