Love Your Neighbors, One Way or Another

Neighboring is a thing of the past, it seems, but it’s still possible. It’s not easy. You know the hurdles. People are busy. Some like private lives. Your neighbor may speak another language. Some recent experiences reminded me that loving your neighbor can happen in unpredictable ways.

Before I retired I studied to renew my Ham Radio license I had earned as a teenager. I foolishly let it expire. I regained it again in my 40s, but again allowed it to expire. It’s a fun hobby. I reasoned that retirement would offer opportunities to enjoy it again. I’m particularly interested in building international good will through global communication and Amateur Radio Emergency Services. I purchased the equipment and set up a station in our home.

The first time I transmitted from my new station, the lights went out in our home. And that was not the only time. I consulted some experts about the problem. They were baffled. The manufacturer of the radio I have was mystified. I turned to the Internet. This problem was all over the Internet. The circuit breakers in our home, required by code, were overly sensitive to Radio Frequency waves that tripped Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (breakers). The manufacture of the breakers had made an agreement with the American Radio Relay League – they would replace all breakers, at no cost, with equally protective but less sensitive, code-complying breakers. An electrician replaced  breakers in our home. Problem solved . . . for me.

One afternoon I was excited about contacts I was making in other countries, when a neighbor came over to ask if our breakers were tripping. Later we attended a neighborhood dinner, and people around us were talking about their breakers tripping. Mary gave me a knowing glance and quietly whispered, “you’re doing that.” If I could have slid under the table, I would have. But I said, “I think I know what the problem is.” I was the cause. Other neighbors came forward with breaker trouble. The builder graciously agreed to change breakers in homes as needed. So I spoke with our Association President and told her I would shut down my radio until the issue was resolved, a painful decision. I’d worked hard to prepare for the test to recapture my license.

It was simply being a neighbor to do so. The alternative was to gain a reputation as the nasty, inconsiderate neighbor who won’t stay off his trouble making radio. Slowly this problem is being resolved, after six months plus of keeping my radio transmissions silent.

There are numerous ways to love your neighbor. I’d not heretofore thought of tripping circuit breakers leading to one of those ways.

There are others. I was walking our dog around our neighborhood recently, when one of our neighbors came out to visit. He and his wife and I had talked before. They’re friendly people and dog lovers, an immediate connection. Mo and I had walked by their home numerous times. I laughed as they told me, affectionately, they call their dog “Big Mouth.” On this recent walk, he slowly approached me and said, “I don’t know if my wife told you, but our dog died about a week ago.” She had not told me. We’d been in Canada for two weeks visiting our younger daughter and her family. I listened as he told me, painfully, how their dog had died suddenly, unexpectedly. We’ve been there. It hurts. I ached for them. I listened sympathetically, told him our experiences, and expressed my sorrow for their loss. “I thought you would understand,” he said as he turned to go back inside.

As I walked on, I felt a God-nudge to buy a sympathy card for a pet loss, write a caring note on it, and send it to them. This morning I dropped that card in the mail. I’m waiting to see what happens next.

What doors do you think could open for you to love your neighbor?

Author: Randy J. Gauger

Christ-follower, husband of Mary for 52 years, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, writer, preacher, ordained American Baptist Pastor, retired.

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