The Other Side Of The Fence


Today I have a wonderful neighbor. Their backyard is magical. And I appreciate living next to them everyday! I have been blessed with great neighbors in the different places that I have lived. Some have become life long friends. But I do remember once upon a time when my neighbor was horrible. She hated me till the day she died I think. It was sad. I even had dreams of her liking me. It bothered  me so much. I’d gotten a notice about BIG Refuse Pick Up Day that our city offered annually. It was a day that you could put big things out and the city would come and haul them away.

I was young and probably not as gracious as I am now  :)  And looking back, I could have been a little more tactful. But I left a note on my neighbor’s van offering my husband’s help to move her washers and dryers out to the curb if she so chose. I thought that it was an innocently helpful and quite neighborly offer. The appliances had been facing my kitchen door since we’d moved in almost a year earlier. She’d never been particularly friendly even before we moved in, but that note caused WORLD WAR III between us. She was not a very happy person to begin with and later I learned that she had a lot of issues that I was not aware of.

They say hind sight is 20/20 and I think that I understand her position better now. She was probably about my age then, that I am now and I was barely 30. She might have been a little offended because I was so much younger and perhaps she thought… came across as pompous though I really just wanted to make sure she had not missed the notice. Though if we are being honest here… I really did not want to look at her appliances staring back at me for another year, I wish that I’d done nothing now. I don’t like when someone doesn’t like me. But then not everyone liked Jesus. So why should I expect more?  But it really wasn’t worth it. And looking  back if it had not been that note… it would have been something else. She was just looking for an enemy. There are just some people that I have run into in my life, that I haven’t been able to win over with my irresistable charm, believe it or not!  ;)

backyard1

Though she did have a daughter that ended up being a blessing and we became friends when she found The Lord and we discovered that our birthdays were on the same day. It was a friendship that evolved with a lot more hard work than I am used to when it comes to cultivating  friendships; We had kids around the same age and when they did not get along, I think she expected drama between the moms, where I felt it was important for the kids to just work it out. But in the end, a friendship evolved and the kids grew up and got along and  it is a sweet memory how I see God worked it all out. And now I am glad that I made the effort.

This morning I’ve been watching a marathon, a show called House Hunters, and one of the episodes was about a couple looking over into the neighboring  yard filled with junk and it made me flash on my memories of those neighbors….

Soooo…. I thought I’d write a more lighthearted post today with a little message to remind us all about judgment even when we feel we are on the right side of the fence. Today I am getting ready to work in my yard and it made me wonder what “my neighbors” see on their other side of the fence.

The Other Side Of The Fence

I looked over the fence and what did I see?

A few  piles of junk staring right back at me

two washers and three dryers lined up in a row

If they ever worked, I guess we’ll never know

washing machines

As I peeked through the fence I was so horrified

it looked like a graveyard where someone had died

a few bird cages, an old bike and a barbecue now twisted

all toppled on each other as if they never existed

backyard mess2backyard mess3

I tried to smile and I tried to be nice

and tried not to scream when I saw all the mice

I even waved hello when the neighbors came out

to see what it was that I was  shouting about

backyard mess

I didn’t want to offend them by gawking some more

even though I’d just purchased the house right next door!

backyard

Diane Reed

2013

(Sometimes we don’t always see past our own fences)

Lord help me to not be so fast to judge!

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

Luke 6:27 ESV

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48 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vashti Quiroz-Vega
    Sep 25, 2013 @ 03:04:41

    Having good neighbors is a blessing, but when you have a bad one, well, it could be a nightmare. I’ve been lucky so far. My neighbors are very cool so far. Loved the story and the poem Diane. :)

    Reply

  2. Unshakable Hope
    Sep 18, 2013 @ 21:51:19

    This post is so ironic, Diane!
    Our neighborhood is relatively small, only about 28 homes. The minimum lot size is 2 acres so none of the homes are very close to one another. People here (us included) like their privacy. The house next-door sold last month and we now have a new neighbor. He came over shortly after moving in and told us he was going to put up a wrought iron fence just like ours. But we have a six foot privacy fence on the side and he asked if we would mind if he replaced the privacy fence between our yards with the same four foot wrought iron fence that we have in front. Trying to be good neighbors and since he was paying for it, we agreed to his request. But, after his college age kids having some loud pool parties and driving four-wheelers around their yard, we’re beginning to regret our neighborly gesture:-)

    Reply

    • coastalmom
      Sep 20, 2013 @ 01:17:00

      Hi Bill,
      I am so sorry to hear that someone that I would love to have as a neighbor has such thoughtless neighbors. Perhaps our less than desirable neighbors are supposed to be an exercise in tolerance for us? ;)
      I am praying that they become more thoughtful in the future! They obviously don’t know what great neighbors they have in YOU!

      Reply

      • Unshakable Hope
        Sep 20, 2013 @ 13:51:45

        “Perhaps our less than desirable neighbors are supposed to be an exercise in tolerance for us?”
        I think you’re right. Thankfully, before this challenge, we’ve had fantastic neighbors in all three of the neighborhoods we’ve lived in.
        Great post!

        Reply

  3. DianaBee (@BloggerDi)
    Sep 18, 2013 @ 19:43:31

    Di, this is the first time I’ve visited your blog. You are very positive, encouraging, funny and oh-so-real! My oh my, are we ever alike in some ways. I call myself a “recovering people-pleaser”, It still bothers me if someone doesn’t like me, but not nearly as much as it used to. When we throw in issues of loving others, denying self and resisting pride, makes relationships even trickier! I am still trying to figure out the balanced approach to all this. -another Di

    Reply

    • coastalmom
      Sep 22, 2013 @ 15:20:46

      Hi Diana,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and comment! I have gone through a lot of changes. Aging is not as bad on the “inside” as it is seems to be on the outside! The jury is still out on the outside… all the aches and pains that come with the different things we did to our bodies when we were younger… I remember never understanding about back aches etc… now I find myself stuck sometimes not being able to move from a certain position until I loosen up! ARGH! But the inside is different… I love that you call yourself a recovering people pleaser! I can so relate! But also as for you… not so much for me anymore. If you like me I am blessed… If you don’t… I don’t lose sleep over it anymore! ;)
      Looking forward to reading your posts!

      Reply

  4. Planting Potatoes
    Sep 18, 2013 @ 18:38:24

    since you have described one of neighbor’s almost to the core….I would like to say that I relate to your post and thank you for writing…..I am blessed by your words!

    Reply

    • coastalmom
      Sep 22, 2013 @ 15:24:05

      Thank you for reading! I am so happy to have so many new blogging neighbors~! It makes me so happy to meet such great people and I always love people that I can relate with! Unfortunately we all seem to have our neighbor stories. Just goes to prove all the neighbors in all the neighborhoods all over the world… are not so different! It is one darn small world! ;)

      Reply

  5. PapaBear
    Sep 18, 2013 @ 02:30:41

    Takes all kinds of people to make a world, Di, even this kind has a purpose. They make you appreciate the nice ones even more.
    Paul

    Reply

    • coastalmom
      Sep 18, 2013 @ 02:54:14

      Ahhh Paul,
      You always have the best view of things! Whatever side of the fence you are on!
      xoxo ;)

      Reply

      • PapaBear
        Sep 18, 2013 @ 03:13:42

        Don’t believe in fences. They keep people apart !

        Reply

        • coastalmom
          Sep 18, 2013 @ 03:18:08

          I agreeI When I lived in Missouri no one had fences! It made a great path for us kids to sled through all our neighbor’s backyards in the winter! :)
          In this particular story… I am kinda glad we had one though! ;)
          Those photos I added to the poem… well, they are not too far away from what it really looked like! In fact, I had to really look at one that looked pretty much like the REAL thing! Yikes!

          Reply

  6. Jim Gramze
    Sep 18, 2013 @ 01:30:37

    Early May is a good time of year, I’d say. Some of the best people I know were born right around then. I know several.

    I don’t know what my neighbors think of us. We are flanked by older people on two sides and I’ve given them my card with phone number and said that if they need anything to just call. There’s never been a call for help, but the free weekly Reminder (local paper which is mostly ads/coupons and a couple stories) is brought over every Saturday so we can’t be hated too much.

    It’s happy here.

    Reply

  7. Trackback: The Other Side Of The Fence | Ta hendene til din kjære – se på dem og hold dem hardt Disse hendene skal du følge, leie og lede. Du skal få føle på varmen fra dem og kjenne en inderlig glede. De skal stryke deg og de skal holde rundt deg – de er
    • coastalmom
      Sep 17, 2013 @ 14:24:18

      Thank you for reading!

      English

      I hope I tranlated this correctly?
      Bring your hands to your loved ones – look at them and hold them hard These hands will follow, hire and manage. You will feel the heat from them and feel an intense joy. They will strike you and they will stay around you -

      Reply

  8. Pat
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 07:30:39

    Loved this cute, light-hearted story, Diane — made me smile. It’s so true when we move into a neighborhood we don’t know our neighbors until after we settle in. We’ve been lucky in the places we’ve moved that our neighbors have been the best. At least, those we got to know — others were peculiar.

    One was our landlord for an apartment above her house, when we were first married. Wondered after some time why she had a green-colored porch light on at night.

    Then there was an old gentleman we had as a neighbor, when we lived out in the country in Virginia. He kept to himself and never spoke with us. Didn’t see too much of him after his outhouse blew over in a windstorm.

    Another was a declared witch, who drank wine in mason jars and drove a hearse.

    I’ve found, most of the time, no matter how peculiar people may seem, they’re just people with quirks just like any of us and can be nice, when you get to know them.

    Reply

  9. kelihasablog
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 01:51:43

    My neighbor has always hated my guts too… I never figured out why actually. Our kids were the same age and went to school together, but she was always (so I was told by others) talking about what a bad mother I was, guess a bad person too….. so when they ruined the beautiful privacy of my back yard by cutting down all their Holly bushes, I just put up a temporary fence to last until the bushes grow back. It should only take a year, hopefully…. I’ve tried being nice & her husband always talks to me and is nice, but if she is out in the yard and I walk out to get the mail…. she just drops what she’s doing and turns around and goes inside. Weird huh? I AM really a nice person. (But I secretly can’t wait until I can move) LOL
    I love this… it reminded me of her. I’ll continue to try to be nice, but she is pretty determined to hate me… :D

    Reply

  10. parrillaturi
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 00:48:12

    I’ve had my share of such neighbors. I could never understand why they didn’t like me. Hey, I’m a likeable guy. If you don’t believe me, ask me! I tried my best to engage them in some sort of conversation, but to no avail. They were just rotten to the core. No matter what I did, they would always find something to gripe about.

    I have boxed, been involved in Martial Arts, and have persistently, held my temper in check. Not with these neighbors from hell. I wanted them to make a cutting remark. Just a hint of one. But guess what..that small still voice from the Lord, would keep me in check. Later on I gave up, went my merry way, and felt that it was their loss. Through the years, I have found great neighbors, and after all these years, though far apart, we keep in touch with each other. Good read! Blessings.

    Reply

    • coastalmom
      Sep 17, 2013 @ 21:21:53

      Yeah that small voice is always good to keep us in check if we just listen! lol! Thanks for reading and sharing! I love getting to know everyone that has been inspired to share!
      Thank you!
      Blessings back at ya!

      Reply

  11. DebbyGies (D.G.Kaye)
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 00:10:11

    :)

    Reply

    • coastalmom
      Oct 01, 2013 @ 16:56:48

      So Debby,
      This is the only one that I could find that I did not respond to??? You did not LIKE or comment on the other ones that I can see…
      Sorry if I missed something… :(
      But your email sounded as if I was not responding to your comments. I did skip this one cuz it was just a happy face and I was thinking that I could send a happy face back but thought it might be redundant. LOL.
      So not sure where I am missing your comments? Sorry!!!
      xoxo ;)

      Reply

  12. Steven Sawyer
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 23:41:39

    This reminded me of an episode of The Golden Girls. They had a neighbor who was bitter and hateful. She petitioned the city to cut down a 100-year-old tree in the lot next door. The Golden Girls went to the council meeting and protested. Rose called her a bad name. The old lady got up to speak and keeled over and died. She had no family and no friends. All the neighbors despised her. Some people must have so much hate and anger and bitterness in their lives that they never get over it and can never forgive. I remember going to a nursing home with a ministry team from our church. They wheeled in an elderly lady and parked her near the front where we were. Suddenly she let go with a string of cuss words most sailors wouldn’t even use. And she wouldn’t stop. The nurse wheeled her out of the day room and back to her room cussing all the way. It was sad. And it is so sad when neighbors don’t get along. We’ve been fortunate to have good neighbors and we sure had them growing up. Thanks for sharing, Diane. I’d be your next door neighbor in a heartbeat. We’d have coffee and chat every day. God bless.

    Reply

  13. Terry Kim
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 22:45:22

    Hi Diane. My name is Terry, I represent Mondo Research, a market research company based in Los Angeles and I am currently looking to find quality participants for paid market research focus groups coming up and was hoping to extend an invitation to you. I can be reached at 213.712.3112 or terryk23@hotmail.com if you wish to get more information. Thank you and hope to hear back from you.

    Reply

  14. Michelle
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 21:18:32

    When I was younger I was not known for being tactful or gentle. It is hard to stare at someone’s mess so I know how you feel saying something. Then my mom got a little older and I noticed she started leaving things…like [this is embarrassing] a toilet on her front porch. Granted we are from Arkansas. My sister left my mom a note that said, “Mom get the ghetto off your front porch.” My mom laughed and thought it was funny and left the toilet on the porch. So my sister and I decided to make it a planted and planted flowers in it. I wish I had a photo but now her ghetto porch has some flare for sure. One thing my mom said about leaving it there was that it didn’t bother her at all. Well it certainly did my sister and I but then I started noticing that my mom was leaving clutter all over the place. I asked her why and she said, “I’ve gotten to the age where it’s too hard to move things that are heavy so I just leave them and I got over that years ago.” Well I’m still not over it but I had to share this after I saw your post! Made me smile I’ve had a long day and needed a smile break! Have a super day!

    Reply

    • coastalmom
      Sep 16, 2013 @ 21:27:36

      Michelle,
      I am loving the stories this has inspired. What a grand idea, making a planter our of a toilet! I bet she could have sold a few if she’d gone into the business of making quirky planters! I love your blog and hope you tell more stories about your life. You are very inspiring!
      xoxo
      di

      Reply

  15. amandalannon
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 21:05:40

    I used to live in a cul de sac in a large detached house with a fairly large garden, and one of our neighbours was as you describe here, now I live in a small terrace house and the house on one side is divided into two tiny flats, the people downstairs are “difficult”, but we have prayed and will continue to pray as we try to maintain a cautious calm.

    Reply

    • coastalmom
      Sep 16, 2013 @ 21:36:26

      Amanda,
      I KNOW! Isn’t it hard – choosing our battles? To know what hill to die on and what to let go? In the end… I don’t remember, but I don’t think that the applianes ever got moved. Mostly out of spite. Hey maybe they could have made planters out of them! LOL. I know I wanted to throw dirt on them! :D

      Reply

  16. White Pearl
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 19:34:43

    Hi Love ! I just loved reading all your beautiful experiences. Neighbors matter a lot after all. Good neighbors are always ab blessing ! I just loved the poetic lines you have shared. So beautiful. Love and Hugs to you ! xx

    Reply

  17. Let's CUT the Crap!
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 18:04:42

    Maybe some people don’t see themselves as lovable and figure everyone else is the same.
    This lovely poem captures the essence of it feels like to take a look over the fence. Ack!

    Reply

  18. lifeofaministermom
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 17:23:01

    I love this Diane. It’s so full of truth! I know I’m not everybody’s friend and I’m sure I’ve offended people along the way, but it is bothersome when people can’t even be friendly or cordial with you! Can’t we at least give each other that? We currently have a frustrating neighbor situation, and my husband and I are constantly reminding ourselves that their behavior doesn’t change how God wants us to behave toward them. The verse you shared is perfect, and I hope we can all remember it as we endure with one another!

    Reply

    • coastalmom
      Sep 16, 2013 @ 17:45:11

      Patricia,
      I love that you GOT exactly what I was trying to say! When I was younger, I was so indignant that my neighbor couldn’t see that I was just trying to teach her pride in ownership! ;) It is funny because you are much younger than me and I can learn so much from you! But my neighbor just couldn’t see it that way. LOL.
      Later as I made friends with the other neighbors I learned that she held a grudge against everyone and in fact, had not spoken to the neighbor on the other side of her for over twenty years. I realized that it was not me. Even now I know how I felt in my heart and it was not initially mean spirited but maybe perhaps a little judging… cuzzz after all it was not just the washers I could see but the other side of the fence that I had seen that probably caused me to feel superior… which now looking back I probably came across as just that, because I always mowed my lawn etc… Though I know how things can get away from us and finances don’t always allow for the regular upkeep but there are things you can do that don’t take any money. I am sure that a lot of people have a lot of neighbor stories! I am blessed to not have any now. But I know it is a tricky path we walk as believers to stand up for ourselves while still trying to be a witness.
      xoxo

      Reply

  19. bulldog
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 16:51:21

    Shame some people just don’t want to be friends…. happens all over the world… and sometimes a gesture of help is seen as interference… what a pity… enjoyed this post…

    Reply

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