Prayer Request (sorry!)

I thank God for my accommodation, which is just perfect in so many ways. I have lived here for about three years now and the time has flown by, which I think is a sign that things have been going really well. I live in a house divided into three flats (I’m in the middle with one person above and one person below). I live near the centre of a town with great transport connections and amenities. It’s got everything I need. I’m so grateful.

However, right now I need your prayers!

To cut a long story short, my accommodation is connected to the mental health system in South London, and I am only living here because I am under the auspices of the Community Mental Health Team. My last spell in hospital was more than four years ago, but when I was discharged, I went into what is known as ‘supported accommodation’ (which basically means there is a charity who help out with any issues that arise, and the rent is more affordable than it would be otherwise).

I believe the guy in the flat above me (let’s call him X) has been here for about twenty years. I knew almost immediately that he was going to be a difficult neighbour when I heard him physically fighting with his son on the stairs and threatening to ‘knock him out’. He freely speaks in profanity, tells lies, shouts loudly to himself, and breaks many of the rules of his tenancy (for instance by keeping a cat and smoking illegal substances).

I have tried really hard to be a friendly neighbour to X. I try to be loving towards him at all times and encourage him, shake his hand, give him a pat on the back, pray for him, and I always ask how he’s doing while at the same time keeping some psychological distance (i.e. by not going into his flat nor allowing him into mine).

In recent weeks there is one issue that has been a real challenge. X plays his music really loudly in the afternoons – so loudly that you can hear it down the street (he often leaves a window open which doesn’t help). There is enough separation between our flats that in my flat I don’t hear his music very loudly, though it is still distracting. My main problem is that it’s very antisocial in terms of others who live on our road and the many people who come to the front door of the house for deliveries, etc. One delivery man told me that he felt uncomfortable coming to our front door because of the loud music, and I always feel I have to apologise to any visitors.

I have politely asked X on four occasions to turn the music down, and every time he has met me with the same response. He says, ‘If it’s too loud, bang on my door and tell me to turn in down’. I know, however, that if I did this, it would be confrontational and he would almost certainly react aggressively. I told him “I’m not an aggressive person, and in any case I’m asking you now so why do I need to knock on your door?” But he dismissed my logic.

After weeks of frustration, I bumped into X on the street the other day and after a reasonably polite conversation I thought I’d try a slightly different approach. I mentioned the music again, but this time said what I hadn’t said before, which is that I don’t want to have to make a complaint. He immediately turned on me and said now I was causing trouble, and he walked off muttering and swearing. That was about two weeks ago and I haven’t seen him since. The loud music has continued.

I’m grateful that X doesn’t play music at night. It’s generally between about 1pm and 6pm. Still, it’s difficult to concentrate during that time, and I have to schedule my days to accommodate that noisy period in the middle of the day.

I’m worried that next time I bump into X he is going to be aggressive with me, verbally and perhaps even physically, as it certainly feels as though our relationship has been soured. I do kind of regret suggesting I might have to make a complaint, and feel that perhaps I should have just kept counting my blessings and put up with the noise. But it was getting so frustrating and oppressive that I felt I needed to do something.

Undoubtedly, X can be very nasty. I believe he may have been in prison and is used to handling confrontation with violence and aggression. He’s certainly a bullying character (I could give various examples of this that I have witnessed). The situation now is very volatile and I’m afraid that he could attack me if I say something that even slightly provokes him.

Please pray that God will bless this situation and bring a swift and happy resolution. Please pray for my protection and for X to experience a change of heart. Please pray for a breakthrough and a miracle that will bring peace.

Thank you SO much! xx

42 comments

  1. You know prayers are going on and will say the St. Michael prayer for you as well. He has come to defend me many times in my life. One thing I want to ask you though, “Can you call the police and have them come out and talk to him?” I had to do this once with a neighbor who did the same thing and it stopped. Of course they did not know who called the police? I am here in the states and we can do things like that, I do not know how it is where you live? Anyhow, know prayers are and will be said. God Bless, SR

    1. Hi SR, many thanks for your comment and prayers. Calling the police is an option, but they are likely to do very little unless there is an assault or something else tangible that they can act upon. Also, if I escalate things it will only make X more hostile and create more problems. So it’s a very tricky situation. I honestly don’t think he would listen to the police and it would just make him more eager to assert his authority over me, and get ‘revenge’.

      I’ve dealt with many difficult neighbours in the past, but X is particularly troublesome.

  2. Forgot! By the way do not ever apologize for asking for prayer. If I need prayer I ask for it and should. It is my honor to pray for you Steven, not my burden. God Bless, SR

    1. Thank you SR, I know Christians always have so many people to pray for so I feel a little guilty adding to the list. But I hear what you’re saying and accept that, because I’m always happy to respond to prayer requests and don’t see it as a burden. God bless you 🙏🏻

  3. Sorry to hear you are going through this Steve, will definitely pray for you and the situation. Just a thought, have you tried using ear plugs if it’s practical?

    1. Hi Bruce! Thank you so much for your prayers and your suggestion about using earplugs. If he was playing music at night they might help, but during the day I feel they would be a bit awkward. Thanks though! I appreciate your thoughts 😊

  4. That’s a tough story, I feel for you and I hope God can sort things out. This other man is obviously quite a troubled person, I’m sorry for him. I hope the music is just a phase for him. Maybe you can use this time of discomfort to your advantage – practice patience, equanimity, etc.

    I’ll pray for you that it’s all resolved in the near future though!

    1. Thank you, David, I really appreciate your attitude, your sympathy, and your prayers. I feel sorry for X too. I hope that some good will come out of this situation, and as you suggest, there might be lessons in it for me. God bless you, brother!

  5. Praying for both you Steven. For your living situation, mental health and a supernatural way forward with this situation. Also for your neighbour, may God intervene and his grace and power be witnessed by all in the building. Peace 2 you dude!

  6. Just prayed for you, Steven. BTW – I’m not saying that the situations are similae at all – but a friend of mind went through something similar, and the behavior (loud music at all hours; irrational tendencies) only escalated. She and her family decided to move to ensure that they all had peace of mind. It was terribly inconvenient, but she felt unsafe in her home and had no peace about the situation.

    Keep praying on it, but ask the Lord if there is some other option that you may not be seeing at this time. Perhaps there isn’t, but it’s a prayer I like to use from time to time.

  7. Sometimes we need to find the strength to do things we wouldn’t normally do or feel comfortable with. I’ll ask God to help you with the situation, to speak to this man’s heart, help you with strength, and if there is another way that is God willing, that He provides 🙂 peace and assurance be upon you! Never apologize for asking for help. We’re the body of believers for a reason, and Christ is at the top. 🙂

  8. I’ll be echoing what someone said above that there is no need to apologize for asking other Christians to pray for you, it is what our Heavenly Father expects us to do anyway, it’s just that now I have a name and a situation to pray for and not just ‘those who are in need’ etc 🙂 I’m not sure how it’s going to work out for you in the next couple of days but I’m sure the Lord will respond, listen in your Spirit brother.
    God bless, Max

  9. Steven, I’m praying for you and your neighbor. I do have a question though. About the “X” with which you end your entry, was that a reference to your neighbor? “Thank you SO much! X” It looked like a “sign-off”, or something. I’ll keep you both in my prayers, for which you never need apologize. And I’ll be asking you about this circumstance later to see how our Master is working it out. Blessings upon you!

    1. Thanks so much, Matt. About the X at the end – that was actually a kiss, but I totally understand the confusion and apologise for it! It didn’t occur to me that that could be confusing. I think I’ll edit that 🙂

      1. Ah! Like an XO or OX (not the beast of burden), for “hugs and kisses” that makes so much more sense. I’ve just not seen them separated, but should have guessed.

        Blessings upon you, I’m still praying for you. By the way, my daughter is struggling with a similar problem. Keep her in your prayers as well.

        1. Hi Matt! Yes, that’s right, perhaps it’s more common in the UK to put an X as a sign off? We also use OX or XO for hugs and kisses 🙂

          Thank you for your prayers – I haven’t crossed paths with my neighbour for many days now but today I feel less distracted by the problem, no doubt as a result of the prayers that have been going up on my behalf. Also, he hasn’t yet started playing music today (normally it begins around 1-2pm and it’s now 3pm) so that’s a small victory. Sorry to hear about your daughter, will certainly pray for God’s blessing and protection for her.

          God bless you brother!

  10. Hi Steven!

    You have my sincere sympathy.

    As you know, I was looking after my mother for about 3.5 years as her live-in carer in her home leaving my youngest son to have free reign in my the house that I own 1.5 miles from it. I found that it got too much for me – you agreed from my description of symptoms that I’m likely to be bipolar with a strong bias to depression. My mother is in a care home at present and I see her for 4 hours average per day, then return to her house to take care of it. Every time when I say goodbye she asks me, “You’re not leaving me here on my own are you?” I’m thinking of making arrangements for her to come back. It’s a dilemma as a friend said to me, “Depression (me) and Dementia (mum) don’t mix.”

    My son, Justin told me that his new neighbour plays music at a high volume. I went to see him and he seemed quite amicable and agreed to reduce the volume. Justin told me that he did as he said he would do for a while then gradually the music crept up to its previous volume. I don’t understand this kind of behaviour as wireless headphones are relatively cheap. Next time I go to see him I’ll take a new set with me to offer to him.

    Your case is rather different from what you’ve described as people who are inclined to bully others do so because they enjoy doing so. Below is an extract from a book review which is very relevant and interesting:

    The basis of Bloom’s argument is that fine feelings, like fine words, butter no parsnips. Feeling your pain is all well and good but not necessarily the best trigger of an effective moral response. Indeed, he argues that an ability to intuit another’s feelings might well be an aid to some dubious moral behaviour. A low score on the empathy index is commonly believed to be a feature of psychopathy, but many psychopaths are supremely able to feel as others feel, which is why they make good torturers.

    If you’re interested in the actual book, see the link below:

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/06/against-empathy-paul-bloom-the-empathy-instinct-peter-bazalgette-review

    I have been bullied myself many times by different people and the one thing I’m certain about is that the bullies enjoyed it and knew exactly what they were doing to me.

    You could complain about noise pollution but this is likely to inflame him and he’ll guess it’s you who did so. You may even get the blame if someone else complains about him because you had the courage to confront him recently!

    I will certainly pray that you manage the situation in a reasonable way but I don’t think there’s much that will change Mr X’s behaviour other than his finding another woman who is strong enough to stand up to him physically and mentally and is considerate to other people.

    Prayerfully yours in Christ,

    Dinos x

    1. Hi Dinos,

      Many thanks for your considerate response. I have been wondering how you and your mum are doing, so it’s good to get an update. Sounds like a difficult decision (whether your mother should be in the nursing home or not) so I’ll keep you in my prayers.

      I think you’re right that often the bullies do enjoy the bullying for whatever reason. That seems to be the case with X.

      Thanks for your prayers, I’m not sure what to do other that give it over to God. I’m grateful for your prayer support and the prayers of all others who have read the post and responded so kindly.

      Standing up to him is certainly an option, but I’m not convinced it would help. I suspect it would just cause him to escalate his aggressive behaviour. Also, I’m not sure whether morally it’s a good idea to respond to bullying with bullying. That doesn’t sit well with my conscience. It would seem to me that the only way to overcome evil is with good.

      God bless and thanks again,

      Steven

      1. Hi Steven,

        I’m confident that you have assessed your situation with good judgement and accuracy. Also, if it’s bullying he requires this will clearly affect your conscience and escalate his aggressive behaviour.

        Thank you for keeping me in your prayers and it was really good to hear from you.

        Prayerfully yours in Christ,

        Dinos

  11. So sad you’re dealing with this.

    Prayer:
    Holy Father, please give Steven the wisdom to handle this difficult situation. Thank you for his humble heart in searching to seek peace by Your guidance. Let there be a swift resolution as You place Your hand of protection upon him. In Christ, Amen.

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