I had recently moved to a new street and didn't like the view from my front porch. Every day I would look across the street at a duplex that housed a family on one side that never brought their trash cans in off the curb. Trash would overflow everywhere and blow all over the street. There was even a blue Rite-Aid shopping cart permanently parked in front of the house. I hated looking at it all and I hated finding their trash in my yard for weeks and weeks. I began to regret moving to this street and wondered if we'd made the right choice.
I had decided earlier to try The Work on something that seemed really petty and this seemed to be a good fit. Turns out I was the one that needed to pick up the garbage - in my thinking.
The best part of this piece were the turnarounds and that's what I want to share in this post.
Here is what I wrote out on my "Judge Your Neighbor" Worksheet:
My neighbors should bring their trash cans in.
They should get rid of all their garbage in front of the house.
They make the street look like a dump.
It makes me angry to have to pick up their trash in my yard.
They are disgusting pigs and I want them to leave.
It’s disgusting that they would just leave it there, all over the place for so long, and not do anything about it.
I can’t believe they just leave trash all over the place.
I hate looking at their garbage.
It makes the street look like a ghetto, makes my neighborhood look trashy.
They are bringing down the property value.
I hate looking at the view across the street – that duplex is a dump.
Now, check out these turnarounds....
I should bring my neighbors’ trash cans in.
-What looked like an fuming eyesore 10 minutes ago now genuinely occurs as an opportunity to love and serve my neighbor. For whatever reason, they aren't able to take care of their trash and I certainly have the capacity to do something about it. May as well take the shopping cart back to Rite-Aid while I'm at it...
I should get rid of all their garbage in front of the house.
-Yes! I'm the one who has a problem with it! And I should also get rid of all the garbage in my thinking.
I make the street look like a dump
-I can see that - I don't pick up the garbage - the garbage that I have a problem with. I don't do anything about it. I don't take care of my community.
I love to have to pick up MY trash in my yard.
-If it's in MY yard, it's MY trash! And I love keeping my yard clean so yes, this is totally true.
I am a disgusting pig and I want me to leave.
-Yes, when I make trash more important than people, that is really disgusting to me. I want me to leave the house, leave my trashy thinking, and go meet the neighbors.
It’s perfect that they would just leave it there, all over the place for so long, and not do anything about it.
-That's right, because that's what is. It is perfect. I get to do The Work on it, I get to see where I am stuck, and I get to set myself free. All because of the trash. I am beginning to love the trash.
Side note: I can also see the possibility that God put me on this street just for these people. Who knows? And if He's going to use trash as a way to get my attention, it is indeed perfect that they would just leave it there all over the place for so long, and not do anything about it.
I can’t believe I just leave trash all over the place.
-Yep, that's right. I actually leave the trash in my front yard just to prove a point and make them wrong! "SEE! Your friggin' trash is in MY yard!"
I love looking at my garbage.
-That's totally true. I say I love transformation. And transformation, in my experience, is all about looking at your garbage.
It makes the street look like heaven, makes my neighborhood look perfect.
-With the belief, I treat God like a fool - like there couldn't possibly be any divine purpose in me being on this street with these neighbors and that garbage. Without the belief, I can see the possibility that this is exactly where I need to be. Also, when I just deal with what IS, and question the stressful stories I create, then I can see that things are perfect exactly as they are. And that is heaven.
I am bringing down the property value.
-True, by not picking up the trash in my yard, or the trash in my neighborhood. I am also bringing down the people value in my thinking.
I love looking at the view across the street – that duplex is wonderful.
-Yes, without the belief that "My neighbors should pick up their trash" I can actually see human beings over there - human beings just like me who are doing the best they can with what they have. If they knew how to pick up their garbage, they would. Without the belief I am returned to my deep commitment to love others and serve humanity. This duplex is no exception. I can honestly see that now.
After I did The Work, I was compelled into loving action - I couldn't help it - there wasn't anything I could do about it. With hubby's help, all the garbage was secretly cleaned up late one night and the shopping cart went home to Rite-Aid. The next weekend I took the opportunity to meet my neighbors - a two-year-old and a young single mom on government assistance. Ironically, they moved a month later. God must have a sense of humor.