“Our Difficult Neighbor,” Ensign, Dec. 2006, 63–64
My husband and I were living in a second-story apartment with our small son and daughter. We looked forward to Christmas that year with our two children. Our son was growing fast, and as any normal toddler, he liked to move a lot. He often ran around the apartment just for fun. We enjoyed his antics, but our neighbor downstairs was rather impatient. He often turned up his music in retaliation and came upstairs to complain to us.
It was a frustrating situation for us. What is a little boy supposed to do all day if he is not able to move freely? It broke my heart to keep him quiet when he was so full of gleeful energy. We met with our apartment manager and our neighbor to try to resolve the conflict. As we talked I noticed that our neighbor was especially defensive in his words and attitude. During the discussion, the Savior’s words from Matthew 5:44 came to my mind: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” I did not necessarily consider him an enemy, but we certainly didn’t see eye to eye.
He was in the military, and his wife had not been able to join him yet, so he was alone in a strange town. And when he came home from work, he had to deal with this noise above his apartment. I began to see how difficult it might be for him, but I still did not have a fair solution. I started to pray for him, and my heart was touched to be a little more sympathetic.
We welcomed my husband’s parents to spend the holidays with us that year. On Christmas Eve we were enjoying each other’s company and the special spirit of the season. Soon we heard and felt the vibration of loud music coming from the apartment below. It seemed very loud this time, but I remember feeling sorry for him rather than impatient. Thinking about the verse in Matthew 5, I made up a plate of homemade Christmas cookies for our neighbor.
My husband and I went down to deliver them. When our neighbor opened the door, he scowled at us and said, “WHAT?” I could tell he was expecting an unpleasant confrontation. Instead, we ignored the loud music and wished him a heartfelt merry Christmas. We smiled, and I could see his face soften as he accepted the cookies. He smiled back and thanked us, wishing us a merry Christmas also. It wasn’t long before the music was turned down.
We saw our neighbor outside a few days later, and he thanked us again for the cookies. He was smiling at us again, and we found it easy to smile back at him. We asked him if he had a church to go to, because he was new in town. He said he hadn’t found one yet, so we invited him to our church, and he accepted our invitation. He began visiting with the missionaries and soon wanted to be baptized. He and our son had their picture taken together on the day of his baptism.
I don’t remember any more problems with loud music, but I do recall the special blessings of following the scriptures in our lives. It still warms my heart to remember how the simple gift of Christmas cookies quickly changed an unpleasant relationship into a wonderful friendship.