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Reform Magazine | December 6, 2023

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Commitment-Phobe: Bad neighbour, part two

Commitment-Phobe: Bad neighbour, part two

Trouble with my neighbour, part two

How do you pray for someone when what you really want to do is punch them in the face? This is the obstacle that my husband and I have had to face throughout this year with the new neighbour I wrote about last month. Perhaps we weren’t always tempted to commit assault, but we were most definitely tempted to scream abuse. And on various occasions I fantasised about taking up tap dancing or flamenco and practising at home, a lot. What do you do when simply living your life is a problem to someone who lives in such close proximity? Do you compromise and change your ways, or do you stick to your guns and continue to lead your life as usual, despite the consequences?

Our situation is an odd one because our neighbour is part of our church. Our issue is a private matter, but we are part of a very public community. When we first moved in and fellow church members congratulated us and asked us how things were going, we decided not to lie. Lying in church felt wrong! Also we felt bullied, and by airing our woes we were trying to take power over the situation. We checked in with others, to see if we really were being bullied, and got their opinions about when boundary negotiations overstep the mark. This helped us to see that what was being asked of us was not rational and that we had a right to complain. We felt better for it. But were we in turn bullying our neighbour by airing this private matter?

How are you supposed to resolve conflict in the church community that arises outside of the church service? On the whole, people were genuinely helpful with advice. And we received so much prayer! Sometimes what came out in prayer was challenging but helped us to try to look beyond our survival fear and see the man in need downstairs…


This is an extract from an article that was published in the October 2018 edition of  Reform

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