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“You signed off on this. Get over it.” My first (mental) reaction was defensive. Our neighbor, Jane, had approved our plan for solar installation prior to its approval by the Architectural Review Committee for our community. Now she hated it. Some of the equipment was on the outside of our garage, which she saw every time she walked out of her front door.

It seemed every time she saw Don or me, she’d comment “That’s ugly.” But she never proposed, or even asked for, a solution. Her words and dour facial expression were getting a bit old.

Don drew up sketches of a plan to cover the equipment and make the wall more palatable to Jane. We submitted them to the architectural control committee (ACC) and the next day, got a call from one of the committee members.

The committee liked our plan but thought it would be good to meet together with Jane to ensure she was on board. We said absolutely! So that afternoon Jane, Don and I met with Mary and another committee member, looking at the wall and the plan.

I had prayed that God would control my initial defensive response because after all, our desire is to be a reflection of Jesus to our neighbors, to build bridges, not walls. He answered that prayer. Don presented his plan well. And he is just calmer than I am. I tend to get a fire lit inside myself pretty easily at times.

I can get huffy when others disagree with or dislike something I’ve done.

But what is my end goal?

Is it to be right … or to be righteous? Is it to win … or to love?

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Philippians 2:3-4

Is my conduct worthy of the gospel of Christ? (Philippians 1:27a)

I was reminded of this question through the situation with Jane. And yes, we came up with next steps. We haven’t finished working through the issue yet, but we do have approval from both Jane and the ACC. My prayer is that when the adjustments are completed, Jane will realize that we care about her, respect her concerns, and that she will be more open to us.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Romans 12:18, NIV

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