I always find that God teaches me lessons in the strangest ways. Yesterday, I went outside to rake leaves. Now picture this. The house to the right has 3 huge oak trees and their neighbor has 2. The house across the street has 2 huge oak trees. The house across the street to my left (I'm a corner house) has 2 huge oak trees. The house behind me has 1 huge oak tree. The house next door along my alley has a huge tree that drops leaves. And I have a huge cypress tree in my yard that drops leaves. The rest of my trees are evergreen.
For the past 16 years, my yard has been the black hole where all the oak leaves go. When the wind goes east, I get them. When the wind goes west, or north or south, they end up in my yard. I get buried every year under oak leaves.
I love my neighbors, but sometimes it's hard to love them when I'm raking their leaves. I'm always amazed at how their leaves get blown from their yards and then stops at mine. No, they don't leaf blow them. It's mother nature thinking it's funny.
Yesterday I set out to rake the leaves in my yard. As I'm raking, I'm grumbling about the leaves. Thinking all kinds of bad thoughts about my neighbors. Just really going down that evil road.
Then an elderly neighbor 2 doors down who I had not talked to in about 2 years walks down to me. She told me she had to put her husband in a home for Alzheimers. We chit chatted for a few minutes. Then she began telling me about my neighbor on the right how he would come over every day and help her get her husband out of bed. She then told me about how the other neighbor was there when her husband was trying to leave home and she couldn't stop him. It was about a 10 minute conversation, but I got the message. My neighbors did not deserve the bad thoughts I was thinking. I starting remembering all the times, I could call them and they were right there.
I then realized that I was focusing on leaves when I'm forgetting the big picture. These neighbors will give their right arm to help another. They will always come and help anyone and have helped me so much in the past. I instantly felt bad for even thinking bad thoughts about them.
So I started not only raking my yard, but I set out to rake their yards. I figured I'd eventually rake it anyway when the leaves blew my way, so why not show them an act of kindness and clean their yards for them also. It was a small thing in return for the huge things they do for me.
At the end of the day I couldn't move. I have 36 full bags of leaves at my trash. I have blisters on my hands. But I truly believe God sent that elderly neighbor down to tell me to stop grumbling and rather than resent my neighbors, look at what a blessing they are.