What Would Jesus Do?

So I have a What Would Jesus Do problem.

I don’t usually use the WWJD phrase, even in my own private thought life much less out loud. That’s partly because when I find myself tempted to ask what Jesus would do, I often deep down already know the answer and have previously avoided acknowledging said answer because I don’t like it.

Oh, and also because whenever I hear “What Would Jesus Do?” I think of charm bracelets and neatly packaged “how to live life” seminars and my kitsch radar goes off and I think “Laaa-aaame”. And thinking the word “lame” is not something I feel quite right doing when I’m also thinking about Jesus. Thinking “lame” in conjunction with Jesus instinctively makes me feel that I’m risking a divinely-inspired lightening strike, and acknowledging that feeling makes me wonder (once again) whether I understand grace or really comprehend who Jesus was at all.

No, easier just to sidestep that whole quagmire by not asking myself what Jesus would do.

Which is a pity, really, because when you stop to think about it it’s not a bad question to ask if you hold Jesus in high esteem.

Anyway, my problem. My problem that’s made me wonder what Jesus would do.

The neighbors just over the back fence have started woodworking again. They’ve been at it with electric sanders and power saws almost every day now for the past month. They often start at about 8 AM and go for up to seven hours a day. There is nowhere in this house I can go to escape the noise. It’s particularly bad in Dominic’s room (which overlooks the neighbors house). I’ve been putting him to sleep for his naps on my bed most of the time because our room is quieter. If he’s in his cot when the saws start up, he wakes up.

I find it hard to explain just how insane that high-pitched, shrieking whine drives me. How, now, whenever I hear them start up around 8AM in the morning my blood pressure jumps up ten notches and I’m flooded with righteous anger. For what they’re doing is technically illegal. You’re not supposed to run a noisy business within the city limits of Luang Prabang.

So, you see, what they’re doing is WRONG.

And, yet.

As Mike regularly reminds me.

They are poor. They probably aren’t poor enough that food is in short supply, but who knows. They almost definitely are poor enough that most of those extra dollars they are making from this illegal business are not being spent on lattes at Starbucks but, presumably, on things like school books and uniforms for their children.

I hope they’re spending the money on school uniforms, anyway, because when I think about the fact that they might be spending it on Beerlao, that’s just crazy-making.

Some of Mike’s Lao colleagues have visited these neighbors on our behalf to remind them of the agreement we reached almost a year ago that they only use these power tools three days a month. That made them cut back a little, but not enough. We’ve complained to the village chief, who basically suggested we move house. Last night, Mike rang me from Vientiane (where he’s been most of the week) to tell me that four government officials and a couple of his colleagues would be showing up at our house this morning to have a meeting about the issue.


The whole thing makes me feel icky, as if I’m acting like a wealthy, entitled expatriate, even though I cannot imagine that anyone else living around us enjoys being assaulted by the screeching din of power tools on a daily basis, either.

So, what would Jesus do?

Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure that “bribing the government officials to put pressure on the poverty-stricken woodcutter over the back fence” is out. Would Jesus have put up with it? Moved house? Paid the neighbor not to work? Paid rent for a work-space outside of town where these sorts of businesses are legal? Tried to negotiate some sort of compromise? Gone quietly insane? Packed up the baby while Mike was away on one of these work trips and high-tailed it to Australia?

Yeah, that one’s probably out, too.


Have you had a What Would Jesus Do (or your spiritual equivalent) problem lately? What was it?

(This is a Life Unmasked post. To read more Life Umasked posts by other bloggers hope over to Joy’s website)

16 responses to “What Would Jesus Do?

  1. I’m impressed that you’re even asking the question at this point! I’m an incredibly light sleeper myself and when it comes to things that could wake my BABY? Mama bear comes out in a major way. My problem would be similar. Sometimes I can hear my upstairs neighbors… and it’s really just regular house noise, I suppose, but it’s still incredibly irritating when I’m desperate for sleep. So in other words… I feel your frustration on this one… and I also have no idea what to do. I hope it works out.

  2. What a horrible predicament! Sometimes God allows us to between a rock and a hard place to make us think, as you’re doing right now! What would Jesus do? How would he love these people? when you learn what he wants you to learn, this probably will fade away. God , I find is super creative, with His teachings!

  3. OH, that is such a hard one!I I am so impressed with your willingness to hang in there and just deal. I think that I would be going slightly (ok, a lot) crazy by now. When I need sleep, I really need sleep. I hope you get some help with this one and that you find a mutually agreeable solution to a very difficult problem

  4. Considering that I’ve called the cops on a dog in our hood that barks ALL DAY long and is also scary mean and goes after the kids when he’s out of the gate….and they live directly across the street and ignore our knocks at 2am when she’s going nuts….well I would definitely make some effort to remedy the situation….even if to negotiate that they only stop twice a day during D’s naps….that way guilt of preventing an income is lessened and ability for baby to sleep higher? God send you strength! We all need it these days

    • Ugh, raging dog at 2AM – that’s super high on the annoyance list, too. I wonder if valium tucked in steak might work? Thinking of you guys this week. Hope everyone’s on the mend.

  5. There’s a reason Jesus had to command us to love our neighbors…if my experience is the norm, very few neighbors make the choice of loving them an easy one. I also have a power tool, chaos creating neighbor. It is crazy making. I feel your pain. Sometimes I imagine Jesus pulling up in one of those touristy boats on wheels, yawning as He rises from the back and shouts, “Peace, be still!” as He silences the annoying electricity gluttons. Wouldn’t that be so LOvELy?

    • “There’s a reason Jesus had to command us to love our neighbors”… thanks for the smile. And if you see Jesus in that touristy boat, tell him to swing on by 🙂

  6. I don’t think God really meant these kind of neighbors…may you have grace beyond measure or imagination.

    What if you hire one of their wives to help you take care of the baby and treat her like a best friend and language helper?

  7. i live in an economically depressed neighborhood and, though i’m not far from there myself, i feel like i have more resources–spiritually, financially, relationally, emotionally. so, i am right there with you, wrestling with questions like these. do i call the police on my drunk party-boy neighbors, or walk over there and kindly tell them to shut up, or just ride it out acknowledging that neither of the aforementioned will work? how do i hear a domestic dispute happening in the alley behind my house, while their 10-year-old cries openly at the confusion of the situation? how do i allow my heart to break repeatedly and know i can do nothing (short of prayer, anyway) to help?

    love your writing and your questions; keep it up!

    • Thanks! Yeah, I’m deciding that if you live close enough to enough people you’re not related too… there’s going to be issues somewhere. This sounds like a tough one too, though.

  8. Pingback: House hunting and the powers that be | Lisa McKay Writing

  9. Pingback: I’m moving! | Lisa McKay Writing

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