There are two types of people in this world: Those who think it’s perfectly normal for family members who are incapable of using a toilet to claim the front yard as their bathroom. And… those who don’t think it’s normal.

I fit into the first category. Not that I enjoy hitting the occasional land mine as I stroll out to gather my mail, but I figure it’s par for the course. I simply wash my shoe, file a complaint with the “poop patrol”, and live on.

Someone put a doggy doo baggy in my mailbox.
I’m guessing that it was someone from the other camp who left a gift in my mailbox.

It was a doggie doo bag (a clean one).

When I found it there, I was stunned. Who put this in my mailbox? And what were they implying–that I haven’t cleaned up after my dog?? 

I looked around at my neighbors’ houses, wondering who sent this message. Don’t they know that our electric fence keeps our dog inside our yard? Isn’t it our business (and our dog’s) what happens in OUR yard?

 

I felt my guard going up. I wondered if any neighbors had been talking about me. I felt embarrassed and hurt and defensive.

I took inventory of the past few days and remembered that my little boy had taken our dog for a walk. Had he let the dog potty in a neighbor’s yard? Maybe one of my neighbors had to clean up after our dog! This thought made me cringe in more embarrassment. Maybe I needed to apologize to someone. I looked around my street, unsure how to respond.

We’re Also Christians

It’s tricky when you know that someone is offended, but you’re not sure who it is, or what exactly they’re offended by. This is often how I feel when someone opposes my belief system.

Besides being “dog people”, we’re also Christians. And since we live in a free country, most of the opposition we feel is covert or passive aggressive. I don’t think I’ve ever had a friend directly oppose my beliefs about Jesus, even though I’m very open about them. I have, however, received many subtle messages.

For example, I’ve had neighbors and friends “unfriend me” on facebook, but it feels strange to ask them why. I suspect it’s because I constantly write and post things about Jesus and what it looks like to be His followers.

Other times, I’ve heard (after-the-fact) about friends who had a “girls night” or about groups that went on vacation together. I’ve never asked why I wasn’t invited. I’m sure they figure I wouldn’t have gone anyway. Sometimes it’s obvious that I don’t fit in–especially when people are drinking too much and laughing about things that seem inappropriate. On the other hand, these are my friends. I love them. But I’ve found that I prefer sharing time with them one on one, where our superficial veneers aren’t necessary, and we can talk about what’s on our hearts.

Probably the most opposition I’ve received has been through blogging. People feel much more free to voice their opinions from behind a screen and an “anonymous” label. But in a sense, it’s refreshing to actually know what someone is offended by. Then, you can talk about it. Often, the people who react most vehemently to me and my beliefs are the ones whose hearts are being stirred by God. This was true of me. The times I have been most adamantly opposed to a message of truth are the times I can look back and see God stretching and growing me. I try to remember this, and respond to others with kindness and hope and compassion.

Responding to the Offended Party

I never did figure out who put that baggy in my mailbox. I wish I could have talked to the offended party and made things right. I suspect that this person and I wouldn’t see things the same way, since I think of my dog as part of the family, and I find dog poop on my shoe only slightly annoying. But still, I’d like the chance to make things right if I could. Especially because of my mission in life–to represent Jesus well in my community.

As a Christian, I’m called to live among friends and neighbors whose feet are firmly planted in the “other camp”. My friends and neighbors might very well be offended by what I say and how I live. Even having me show up at a party can be uncomfortable. I get that. But even so, I should be careful not to needlessly offend them! I should make things right, whenever I can. Why? Because I would hate for something like a pile of dog poop to come between my neighbor and Jesus.

(Maybe I should get a pack of those bags.)

Never be wise in your own sight.

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:16-18)

  • Has somebody sent a “baggy in the mailbox” type message your way?
  • What clues have you gotten that you’ve probably offended someone, but you’re not sure exactly whom or how?
  • Is there some way you’ve needlessly offended someone? How can you make this right?
  • How can you live at peace with those around you, who believe differently?
  • Read the verses again, making them into “I statements”. Pray them out loud to the Lord, and entrust your situation to Him.

 

 

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