I’m Trying

love my neighborIt’s not often I’m happy to see Monday roll around, but I was ecstatic when it got here this time. Let me tell you, it was one hell of a weekend and not in the good way. It all started Friday evening when Olivia called me to come get her. She was spending the night with a friend when the friend and her mom got into an argument and the mom’s boyfriend punched the girl in the face. Of course, mom got upset; but not at who you’d think. The woman was pissed off at her daughter and kicked her out of the house because, as she put it, “I’m finally happy and you’re ruining it!” The girl had nowhere to go that night and there was no way I was leaving her to the not-so-tender mercies of the street, so we had a house guest Friday night. Saturday afternoon, after taking her somewhere she could stay for a while, Olivia found a very sick kitten whose mother had been shot along with 10 or 12 other cats. We took him to the vet, but the poor little fellow was too far gone and they had to euthanize him. I would say it was an emotional roller coaster, but that implies ups and downs. For one 24 hour period this weekend, it was pretty much all downs.

I don’t tell this story to make myself look good. In fact, I hesitated to tell it at all, because the last thing I want to be is one of those “LOOK AT ME!!!” bloggers. You know who I’m talking about; the ones whose every post carries a thinly veiled message saying “Look at how progressive/enlightened/open and affirming I am. Oh, if only the rest of you were like me.” That really gets on my nerves. No, I told this story so I could confess how much I suck at something I yammer about all the time: loving my neighbor.

The commandment to love your neighbor is the heart of the Gospel message. In fact, it’s all over the Bible, showing up in each of the synoptic Gospels; in Romans, Galatians and James; even the Old Testament (Leviticus). It also makes regular appearances here; if this blog has a theme, it’s love God and love your neighbor. And, it’s the rule I try to live by. “Try” being the operative word in that sentence.

I emphasize “try” because whenever I face the kind of stuff I did this weekend, love is the last thing on my mind. When I see a mother who not only allows a man to strike their child, but stands with that man to reject the fruit of her loins, love isn’t what I’m feeling. When I have to deal with the results of the stupidity and callousness of someone herding a bunch of defenseless animals into a corner of a basement and shooting them when they could’ve called animal control, love isn’t what I’m feeling. Yeah, I know I’m supposed to love my neighbor but, more often than I’d like to admit, it’s all I can do not to hate some of them.