Let me start by clarifying that not everyone who lives in my block of units is from college. Some of the units are privately owned and rented. The units either side of us fall into this second category: not-college people.
We've had difficult people living on our left the whole time we've been living here. You may remember me writing about our noisy neighbour in first year. He moved out towards the end of our first year and since then we've had a noise-sensitive neighbour who has gotten progressively more hostile and paranoid.
Mostly he just glares at us, and will never respond when we say hello. But we've also heard from other neighbours that he thinks J and another college student are hacking into his computer and stealing things. We think he probably has paranoid schizophrenia, and I find myself sadly thinking: how do you love someone who is determined to hate you?
But God did just this, didn't he? The whole world was determined to hate him yet he was determined to love us. While we were still his enemies he sent his son as a gift to us (Rom 5:8). If God did this for me, how can I not also love my neighbour who hates me? Jesus even tells us to do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27). But how do I do good to this neighbour who wants nothing to do with us and believes lies about us (and will probably take anything we do the wrong way)?
One way that I try to love him is by walking quietly on our stairs. Our stairs are against the wall we share with this neighbour and they can be quite noisy (if his stair-walking is anything to go by. Seriously, it sounds like someone else is in the house with you!). I know he is noise-sensitive so I try to keep our noise levels low. How much of this is being loving and how much is fear of him reacting, I'm not sure.
On to why I'm paranoid. Because I know that our neighbour hates us I'm afraid that he's stealing our mail. I'm sure this is a silly fear, but we've had two undelivered parcels this year and I'm anxiously awaiting a parcel that Australia Post tells me will arrive today. What if it comes while we're out? What if our neighbour takes it from our front door step, or signs for the parcel himself, saying he'll pass it on but really just keeping it from us? (Sometimes the posties don't care who signs for it, which is admittedly helpful if a college friend is the one who signs for you).
But I now realise that I'm doing just what he's doing. I'm being paranoid that he's out to get me. I'm believing untruths about him (or at least worrying that they're true) when there's no evidence for it. So loving my neighbour in this situation is not worrying or thinking the worst of him.
I'm not sure how else to love and do good to our neighbour. Anyone have any ideas?