Like many of us, I often don’t realize my own deficiencies and shortcomings until I get smacked square in the face with it. I recently got served up another giant portion of humble pie that reminds me I talk about grace…but often fail to live it.
Since losing all my home equity and then some trying to leave Michigan, Laura and I decided to rent a house out here in Denver…not that we had any other real choice. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve been a renter. Seeing that I wanted a decent neighborhood for my kids, and seeing that a family of six needs a little bit of space, and seeing that my housing budget is not limitless, I knew that there would have be concessions in my standards—and that turned out to be true. The house is far from perfect. But I like the neighborhood, there is enough space for the family, and the rent is within budget.
Then this conversation happened. I was mentioning to one of my neighbors that there seems to be a few people on the street that I just have not been able to get to know. It’s not that they are reclusive, because they seem very friendly with the other neighbors. He responded by dropping this one on me: “Oh…well, I think it’s because they know you’re renters.”
That caught me off-guard. Could it actually be that there are “friendly” people on my street who avoid associating with me because I am a renting a house in a neighborhood full of homeowners? The thought had never crossed my mind. But I guess some things are obvious. The cosmetic appearance of the house I rent definitely makes it one of the eyesores on the street. Oh, I water and cut the lawn, trim hedges, and keep the weeds down. It’s the big things: the fence is falling apart, the retaining wall is deteriorating, the driveway is cracked. And here’s what I’ve discovered as a renter: the landlord doesn’t care about that and will not make it a priority repair no matter how much I complain about it. I’m sure he would have no problem with me spending my own money to fix up his house—but that’s not going to happen either.
So this is where I am. Apparently I have neighbors who see me as one thing and one thing only: a depreciation of their own home value. I am the trash of the neighborhood because I rent—and there is nothing I can do about it.
Then it hits me. There were renters on the street where I owned a home and lived in Michigan. Those houses were always the eyesores of the neighborhood. Somewhere in the back of my mind I always blamed those renters for not caring about the appearance of the neighborhood. I had relationships with many of my neighbors in Michigan. But looking at it now I realize that I never once reached out and got to know any of the people that rented on my street. It wasn’t until I found myself on the other end of the spectrum that I realized the prejudice of my own classist elitism.
And so it goes. Thanks, God, for serving me up another heaping slice of humble pie. It seems like the only way my thick skull can live out the grace given to me is to get smacked upside the head with my own hypocrisy.
till next time…