Pop quiz: How do YOU feel about people?

Last night, for the third time in as many weeks, the neighbor’s dog started barking around 1 a.m.  I need a lot of sleep to be a civilized human being – somewhere around eight hours.  Every night.  When I don’t, I feel awful.  I don’t just feel a little sleepy.  I feel like death when I don’t get enough sleep.  So, when my sleep is disrupted, I get very upset.  Maybe I could say I get angry.  That would probably be fair. 

Last Thursday night I was awake from 1 a.m. until about 5 a.m.  because of the neighbor’s barking dog.  I had to call my  morning teaching job and tell them I was not competent to teach English.  I was simply too tired.  Last night, I decided there was no POSSIBLE way that my neighbors could not hear their German Shepherd barking every 3 1/2 minutes.  I also didn’t feel like missing out on teaching – for my students sake, as well as for mine.  So, I got out of bed and knocked on the neighbor’s door.  It was about 1:15 a.m.  They seem like nice enough people during the day.  I don’t know them well, but I’ve spoken with them several times.  Their dog sucks.  They have one of those big German Shepherds, and they just keep it in the backyard.  It is outside all day while they’re at work.  It barks off an on throughout the day.  I’ve never seen them take it for a walk, or even let it in the front yard.  Whatever.  People have different ideas about how to treat dogs.  I just couldn’t believe I was having to lay in bed and listen to someone’s dog drive me insane. 

It was surprising to me that I was willing to stand on their porch and tell them to make their dog be quiet, but this is the kind of thing I’m ready to do when I’m really desperate for sleep.  I didn’t want to call the police, because. . .because.  I live in nice suburbs.  Cops would seem extreme.  I don’t live in the part of LA county where calling the cops is “normal” anymore. 

I know it would freak me out if someone came to my door at 1:15 a.m.  But I also know that if I had a barking dog and someone came to my door in the middle of the night to alert me about said dog, I would apologize.  I would feel bad.  I would not be bitchy about it.  The dog went berserk while I was standing on the front porch waiting for someone to come to the door.  When the wife came to the door, she opened it about 2 inches.  I explained that the dog was keeping me up and that it had happened several times in the past.  I apologized for bothering her.  She said, “Well, there was something back there.”  What?  Give me a break, lady.  Your dog is bored and clamoring for attention.  It barks all day and sometimes all night.   I didn’t say those last things out loud. 

I don’t know if I did the “right” thing or not.  I knew from experience that once that dog starts the nighttime barking, it never stops.  I wish I had said something to them during the day last Friday, but I was hoping that it just wouldn’t happen again. 

This brings me to my pop quiz:  How do YOU feel about people?

I’ll tell you how I feel about people.  I laid in bed last night, after the dog was quietly ensconced in their house and I stewed.  I know this is not mature, and I wish I hadn’t, but I did.  I thought to myself, “People suck.”  People do dumb crap all the time – stuff like this and worse stuff.  All of us can think of plenty of examples, I’m sure.  By about 2 a.m. I was thinking thoughts along the lines of , “We’re all just a bunch of selfish, self-righteous creeps, basically.”  I had several stellar examples of immature, selfish, obnoxious, disruptive people in mind as the leaders of my personal pack of people who suck.  As I lay there, fuming, I had a horrible realization.

I’m a misanthrope.

You might think to yourself, well, Megan, that is unfortunate that you think people suck, and it is not a very nice way to go through life, and you sound like an immature cow, but that is your prerogative.  Go ahead and think like that.

Here is the problem with that.  Even if I was OK with the fact that I am sometimes a huge misanthrope – Jesus is not.  I have signed up to follow Him, and to work in His kingdom, and to play by His rules.  His most basic rule is to love my neighbor.  Ha, ha, Jesus.  Even if my neighbor has a barking dog that keeps me up when you KNOW I NEED MY SLEEP JESUS? 

I’ve looked in the gospels, and I can’t find the caveat that gets me out of loving people.  I know this is the most basic, boring, repeated sermon in Christendom: Jesus means love, and he means for us to love.  I know love doesn’t mean getting walked all over, or not fighting for what is right, or not telling the truth to people.  But it does mean after you’ve told the truth to a neighbor about a barking dog and they’ve put it inside, you should be able to go to bed, no matter how they treated you, and not stew and fume about how people suck.  Ahem.

I like to tell myself that I have learned a lot about how to love people because Jesus has changed my heart so much over the past ten years.   And that is true.  But all it takes is some lost sleep to take me right back to a place where my thinking is all twisted up.

So here is my prayer for my exhausted, cranky self today: Lord, help me to think about people the way you think about them.  Help me to consciously change the way that I think about my neighbors and people in general.  Change my heart, God.  For your son’s sake, for the world’s sake, for pity’s sake, change my heart. 

Oh yeah, and please let my neighbors put that dang dog inside every night. Amen.

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10 Responses to Pop quiz: How do YOU feel about people?

  1. jonolan says:

    I love them all. Therefor I must kill them all – and slowly at that. In their pain and fear they will find the Lord and he will forgive them sins and welcome them into his his Kingdom.

    Ministry is Love and my gift is the gates of paradise.

    Rev. Dexter
    1st Church of the Divine Chainsaw.

    Thought you might like the laugh ;)

  2. Matthew says:

    try feeding the dog raw ground beef with sleeping pills ground up in it? or giving it nyquill? me, i’d have called the cops and animal control, especially if they never take the dog out anywhere!

    LOL i hope you get some sleep!

    SDG,
    Matty

  3. Megan says:

    You guys crack me up! My husband was suggesting the ground beef solution today too. . .but I love the nyquill idea. Just a nice doggie nap.

  4. CJ says:

    I’m also am not in love with people who leave their animals out all the time. We keep ours in the house and in the car most of the time. He’s part of the family (dogs are pack animals.) Occasionally, he has to go out for a potty break and some exercise. Like this morning when I got up, he asked to go outside. I told him, OK, but no barking! He’s such a good dog, he came back in on his own a few minutes later (he pushes the door open from the outside) and very quietly went over to sit down by the kitchen cabinet where his treats are kept. He does that when he knows he’s been especially good. He got his treat, of course.
    I like the idea of sleeping pills or Nyquill in the hamburger. But I too, would have called the police. I’m not fond of confrontation with anyone. I also don’t like losing sleep. Hope you can get caught up this weekend.
    Cheers!

  5. Peter Westena says:

    ‘Love thy neighbour’ does not mean that you can’t get annoyed at people’s behaviour. What it means is that you help those worse off than you, that you do not judge people on the basis of race, colour or creed and that you really do ‘watch out’ for people who are in need, that you take the place of the underpriviledged and the powerless, to fight for their rights and dignity. Love thy neighbour isn’t to be a passive reaction, it is a positive command.

  6. Lester Wall says:

    I tend to agree with Matthew, and might consider calling animal control. You should LOVE all of your neighbors, including the dog.

    God’s mercy is his caring and compassionate love, which he extends not only to humans but also to all his creatures. He ‘is good to all, and his compassion is over all he had made’ (Ps 145:9) God, in his love and his righteousness, saves ‘humans and animals alike.’ (Ps 36:6)

    So, if we are to love as God loves, surely we must love all that God loves. Help your neighbor — help the dog.

  7. corisa says:

    see, i would have blamed the dog which may reflect that i’m a cat person. :)

  8. shauna says:

    sometimes loving our neighbor means caring enough to tell them the truth so we don’t end up using the nyquil on their pets! okay that is not very theological of me. loving people is so hard for me to do, and you are right, there is no exception clause to this command. some days the best I can do is pray for Jesus to help me (help!), because seriously, my love is weak and easily tossed aside when I am mad and this is not the sign of the spiritually mature. this is one area where I am fully aware of my need for God to change my heart. hugely aware. it is very humbling.
    xo
    s

  9. Ryan McGivern says:

    I appreciate your thoughts.
    I think that many Christians run the risk of not feelings their feelings
    out of fear that they will not be loving.
    But wait. You cannot judge a feeling. It is what it is and it is as real as anything.
    These folks were being rude, inconsiderate, the list goes on. You had and have
    every right to feel upset (to say the least) about that.
    It the actions that we choose that really matter.
    I don’t know how many Christians that I’ve met that have become
    repressed, bottled up, hurt, diminished, abused (really, abused),
    or passive aggressive because they are afraid to feel and be perceived as
    unloving.
    Anywho, it sounds like it was frustrating and I hope your sleep is respected
    from here on out.
    Sweet dreams,
    Ryan
    mindflowers.net

  10. Carol Del says:

    You received some interesting comments. Didn’t take the theological quiz but I’m in whatever church camp Peter W. is in.

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