So many of the messages we preached
this summer ended up with the same point –
we need to love each other, even the people
we don’t like – even the people who are
mean to us, hurt us, cause us pain. I realize
how hard that is to do, but Jesus won’t let us
take a pass on this one.
Frequently, I ask you how you’re doing
with this and other tough questions. Well, an
incident occurred this week which made me
ask the question, “Rod, how are you doing
with this?” I didn’t like the answer I found.
The incident that opened my eyes involved
Who is Pajama Man? He is my
neighbor – lives three doors down. In a town
house community, three doors is about the
distance from the pitcher’s mound to home
plate – real close, maybe too close. Pajama
Man gets his name because he wears
pajamas all day – every day, outside, on the
street. Now, I have seen him in regular
clothes but only rarely. Pajama Man is a
retired marine. He’s very proud of that fact.
He has a sign on his front door that says
“Fear what’s behind this door – U.S.
Marines.” I mean, what kind of person feels
the need to put up a sign like that?
Well, obviously I don’t like Pajama
Man and I have good reason. Not only is he
weird (he drives his car the 75 feet to our
mailbox station rather than walk the short
piece to get his mail), and he’s a real jerk in
a lot of ways. I found that out right after we
moved there twenty years ago.
Laura had come to visit us in our new
home and not understanding the parking
regulations (each homeowner gets two
parking spaces in front of their house –
others must go to the visitor parking area)
she parked in front of Pajama Man’s house.
That night when she went to leave, she
found a car parked perpendicularly behind
her so she could not get out. Pajama Man
had purposely parked her in. I went to his
door and had a nasty exchange with him. He
told me we were a bunch of idiots – I replied
by apologizing for using his sacred parking
place and then suggested he was a real jerk
and needed to get some help (mentally).
We have not spoken since that day.
Twenty years and not a word. If he’s out
front, I walk Pepper the other way or cross
the street to avoid him. I’m not the only one
who’s tangled with him. I’ve seen him
verbally attack others who mistakenly
parked in his precious spaces, or whose dog
might have lifted its leg in his yard, or who
came too close to his car while driving by.
He’s just an unpleasant nasty man.
Recently, in conversation with my next-
door neighbor Kathy, I found out she gets
along with him. She said they were both
birders (birdwatchers in other words). He
moved to our development because of the
woods behind our house and the variety of
bird species there. On top of that, I’ve
noticed he has grandchildren who
occasionally visit. Once I saw he even
picked one of them up and held them. That
only happened once.
My point is here that anybody who likes
birds and can hold a child can’t be all bad –
maybe 2% good. That’s my guess.
Then, last week a car that I thought
belonged to one of my neighbor friends was
passing by. I waved. Too late I realized it
was Pajama Man who had bought a new car
just like my friend’s. To my shock, he
Now what do I do. I think God was
behind that incident. He’s clearly reminding
me to do what I’m preaching about. I’m
going to have to talk to Pajama Man, even
though every bone in my body rails against
it. It’s what Jesus wants me to do. I’ll let you
know how I make out.