I own a rental house about 25 minutes from my home. Actually, it’s not yet a rental house because I’m still praying that God will bring someone to rent it.
When I first saw the house, it was in March, and all the homes and yards on the street looked good. Everything was mowed, and everything looked orderly. Since late April, I’ve been at the house at least once a week painting, and most recently, mowing and doing yard work. The house is on a dead-end street, and it is about 5 houses up from the end. The “end” has a basketball hoop and it’s where all the kids hang out. The “quiet” neighborhood I bought into in cold, rainy March is now teeming with kids.
Throughout May and June, I’ve eyed my next-door neighbor who had not mowed his lawn. By early June, my property management company had erected a sign in my front yard saying “For Lease.” Still, week after week, my neighbor’s lawn remained unmowed. I didn’t know what to do, because I knew it would have an impact on potential renters. I even talked to my neighbor on the other side, and asked him to talk to the neighbor with the unmowed lawn, and ask him to mow it.
Yesterday, I showed up again to mow the lawn, and saw that the neighbor’s lawn was about a foot and a half high. I was annoyed. Seriously?!!! I thought. As I began to mow my own lawn, I was grousing inwardly. Doesn’t this guy realize I’m trying to get some renters into my house? I considered mowing his. Of course, this wasn’t the first time the thought had occurred to me. But what if he was insulted? I kept mowing my lawn, and finally, I thought, “I’m going to mow his lawn. I don’t care. I have to make it look nice for prospective renters.”
I pushed my mower over to his lawn, and coiled up the hose that was strewn across it. I began mowing, and my electric lawn mower coughed and sputtered as it tried to chew up the tall grass. I had to keep going over the same rows, because the long grass that was pushed down by my mower kept rearing back up again. I continued to have thoughts of frustration at the homeowner. But after only about 5 minutes of mowing, the little boy who lives at the house, who was playing with all the other kids at the basketball hoop, came over to me. He is only about 6 years old, and he said, “Thank you for mowing our lawn.”
No one told him to do so; he came on his own. His parents were not home yet, and his nanny was in the house. I was touched. I said, “You’re welcome, sweetie,” and kept on mowing. A minute or so later, the older daughter, who’s about 8, came over to me from the group of kids and said, “Thank you for mowing our lawn. We don’t have a mower. My dad got a weed whacker, but we don’t have a lawn mower yet.” This time, I was utterly convicted. Brought to my spiritual knees by two beautiful children.
“OK, Lord, I get it,” I spoke within my heart. “I’m so sorry. What a jerk I’ve been.” Those two children made it sound like I was a saint mowing their lawn. They probably thought so. But God knew my heart. And He taught me a valuable lesson–not to judge, and to do things for people out of kindness, not annoyance.
When the father got home, he thanked me, too. I had never met him before, and it broke the ice, and made it easier to feel like I could continue to mow his lawn so that both our homes could look nice. And of course, helped to cool the burning coals he and his children had heaped upon my head unwittingly.
Thank you, Lord, for the loving “attitude adjustments” you send my way, and those beautiful children.