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A Sour Spirit

We had just moved into our new home and we were beginning to settle in. A few days later I pulled my car into the garage and I was walking down my driveway to my home when a man approached me. "Hi, neighbor. I'm Henry." Just wanted to let you know you drove on my grass and damaged it. I'd appreciate it if you were more careful." I apologized but in my mind, I was thinking, "Jeepers, what a great introduction. What on earth is wrong with him." I knew from that day on to be careful.

Henry* was somewhat friendly initially. He and his wife would say hi to us when they saw us outside. He told us we did a good job when we resurfaced our driveway. Our conversations were mostly small talk about our squirrel feeders, our bird feeders or our entertainment biking and rollerblading but as time went on Henry became grumpier. He yelled at us one evening when we were breaking our stone table apart because we were making too much noise. This spring he left a note on both our doors telling us that we shouldn't park in our driveway that week because he was replacing his roof. When I was working in the garage a few weeks later he walked down my driveway to where I was and said, "You know it's illegal to park your car on the sidewalk at the end of your driveway. The neighbor's kids are trying to ride their bikes on the sidewalk and can't because your car is in the way." I apologized. He left but kept working ignoring my car. When my daughter came home an hour later I told her about the conversation. She moved my car into the garage and drove her car into the same spot mine had been in.

This summer Henry was more melancholy than ever. He complained to my daughter about how we pruned our bushes because they weren't even. She told him, "At least ours don't look dead." He was disgruntled about everything. It got to the point where we began going in whenever he was outside. We avoided him like the plague and my daughter who is forever one to share her opinions stood her ground. But his shenanigans continued. One day when we were gone we caught him pruning our tree behind our garage. I began praying for him. Peace reigned only in the sense that he no longer bothered us like he had but he still was melancholy. He complained about us having Christmas decorations up so early yet he picked them up when they fell down.

A couple weeks ago a "For Sale" sign was posted in front of his home. Today we watched as they moved out of their home. When their moving truck disappeared we finally went outside. Peace reigned.

As I have thought about our neighbor I'm reminded of what the attitude of thankfulness can do for us. We can spend hours of our time grumbling but God is not proud of this attitude and neither is anyone else. When the Israelites complained in the wilderness God became furious. This attitude causes us to lose our enjoyment in life. Joy is sucked out of our life. It is so easy for us to focus on the negatives but this only brings despair. As Proverbs 17:22 says, "A joyful heart is a good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones." We lose our happiness and easily slip into depression when we focus on the negatives. Daily we need to spend time thanking God for what He has given us. Every day when I begin my journaling this is the first thing I do. It's amazing how many things I can be thankful for.

Henry was a man that only saw the negatives in life. In the end, he left a stench. We didn't want to be around him. This is not the attitude God wants us as Christians to have. He wants us to have a merry heart. My prayer is that I will be a person that fills others with hope and happiness. We all face difficulties in this life. What we need are people that make life more bearable. I continue to be thankful for the people God has placed in my life that encourage me and keep cheering me on. These are the ones that see the positives in life. May we all become these type of people so we can be a blessing to others.

*Named changed to protect identity.

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