Those of you who’ve been following along on this life journey of ours for awhile now will know that we moved into our current house last spring. You’ll also know that we move a lot. But we’re dead set on staying here for quite some time. Got that, God?
What we’ve learned in our many, many moves and various home rentals and purchases is that while you can foresee some things about your new living space, there are others you simply can’t.
Enter, the parking scene on our street.
Man. It straight up sucks.
We live on a cul-de-sac at the top of a hill. Great, right? Road space for our kids to bike and skateboard and play street hockey! What we didn’t realize, though, is that most of the houses on our street have steep driveways with very limited parking. Ours is one of the few with a large flat space for vehicles. Another thing we had no way of knowing is that most of the houses on our street have basement suites. Fine. We’re cool with that. Except double the people living in a house and you have double the vehicles that need to be parked on a street!
We’re blessed to have a very large front yard. In fact, we’re the only home on the cul-de-sac that does. We knew it would be great for soccer games with the kids in the summer or for stringing a volley ball net up between the trees and practicing our serves. What we didn’t know is that it would be great for all of our neighbours and their guests to park in front of. Like, all the time!
This made me constantly angry when we first moved in. If our friends would come over they simply couldn’t park in front of our home. Others have made it their permanent spot. There is a large truck that parks in front of my kitchen window daily and a white car that sometimes doesn’t move for days.
I ranted about this for months to anyone and everyone who would listen. It’s our yard! It should be our space! They shouldn’t be allowed to park there!
I googled by-laws and phoned the officers that enforce them. I measured the width of our street by myself with a measuring tape one afternoon (praying no neighbours were watching) and I redialed that by-law number to give them the measurements that I found.
Turns out, there isn’t a dang thing I can do about it. The street is public property and as such anyone can park on it as long as they aren’t blocking your driveway.
I fumed. I screamed injustice. I rallied my littles to play soccer really close to the street so no one would want to park there. I asked my husband to mow the lawn often so they wouldn’t want to park there. I wanted nothing more than to have the sprinkler constantly on so that the vehicles would get wet. I sometimes longed for them to leave their windows slightly ajar while I was sprinkling. I hoped the dog peed on their tires. I cursed inside my head every time there were McDonald’s wrappers on my front lawn that had cearly fallen out of someone’s vehicle.
Bottom line, I was exhausted from all the being upset. From all the sense of entitlement I had. From all the bitterness that was building up in my heart towards these unsuspecting vehicle owners stepping on my lawn when they exited their car.
I finally realized it when I pulled open my kitchen curtain one morning and almost cried at the sight of the vehicles.
What was wrong with me? What was I fighting for? What was my hill to die on here, exactly?
The sad truth is my hill went something like this. Me, me, me, me, me!
I had conjured up hate for the vehicle owners in my heart, without even knowing them. I’m not proud of this, I assure you. I hated their vehicles, their garbage, how long they sat idling in front of my yard with my kids breathing in their F350 fumes. I hated each time I watched them pull to a stop outside my kitchen window. I hated when our guests had to walk part way up the hill to get to our home because all the spots in front of our place were taken by friends that weren’t ours.
Hate is ugly, friends. Bitterness makes you crazy. Entitlement is a disgusting weed that grows and grows until it takes over every ounce of your goodness and rationality.
When these things are in your heart it makes you slander unsuspecting people to your friends to rally them to your team. It causes you to talk down about people in front of your children and grow these disgusting traits in their little hearts. It fills your mind, your time, your waking moments with all things that make you feel just tired, spent, exhausted.
And for what?
Nothing. For nothing. I was expending so much thought time and man power on coniving ways to get these vehicles away from our lawn that I didn’t ever once consider the people attached to them.
I didn’t wave or give them a friendly hello when they pulled up and hopped out. I didn’t smile as they took steps across my grass. I didn’t pray for them while I picked up the garbage they dropped and I certainly didn’t ever consider talking to them. They were the enemy. Not one’s to be approached.
I talk often of loving our neighbours as ourselves. Of being servants of others. Of praying for those who hurt us. Yet, not once in the past 6 months did I carry any of these into this parking situation. Instead I carried the exact opposite.
Finally, I saw it. That morning I opened my curtain and a tear formed in my eye. I realized that I was dying on the wrong hill. I was spending so much energy on the wrong fight. I was literally exhausting myself with figuring out how to get them out of there instead of seeing that God was placing new people in front of me that I could get to know. They were right there. Placed smack in front of my house! And here I was rallying against them. Talking disrespectfully about them to anyone that would listen. Allowing greed and strife to take over my heart for them instead of loving and serving them.
I still fight it some days, if I’m perfectly honest. But as I pick up the empty advil containers and Wendy’s fry containers that are littered along the edge of my grass I pray for those from whom they came. When I see those vehicles before my eyes each morning I thank God that I have this yard for my kids to play in. I’m working really hard and asking God to change my heart to the right platform.
My original policy of, “this is my grass and you should get out of here,” wasn’t working and so I’m adopting a new one. “This is our grass and we’re happy to provide a place for you to park.” Sometimes I follow it up with, “don’t step on the dog poo on your way out!” I’m a work in progress, people. Far, far from perfect….