My upstairs neighbors are moving out today.

I wasn't aware of their impending departure until around eight o'clock this morning when the hustle and bustle of furniture and belongings exiting the building began. I have to say I feel a little sad at the thought, even though I would have to check the mail boxes downstairs in the lobby to see what their names are. Having bumped into them occasionally on the elevator ride to our respective homes, I feel a nice sort of connection that comes from pleasantries exchanged over time.

A friend of mine had lamented my move from single family home ownership to apartment rental. He couldn't conceive of being surrounded by the noise of other people's daily lives. Dishwashers running, toilets flushing in the middle of the night and doors opening and closing were more than he could imagine, let alone bear, on any kind of regular basis. I imagine many people feel that way, considering the American dream is to cozy up to one's own fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa, a thirty year mortgage and the peace and serenity that come from knowing your neighbors are at least a hundred yards away. More peace and quiet, more distance, less hassle. Dealing with strangers in close proximity on a consistent basis takes time and patience. Believing we are the only people in the universe must be suspended, as does the need to feel offended by a good bit of other people's behavior.

Mostly, its about forgiveness and forbearance.

I was first introduced to the companionate relationship between forgiveness and forbearance by a woman in the first congregation I served. Offered up as some comfort regarding a nasty little church squabble, her words stuck with me, and I now have come to regard them as two of the greatest luxuries of being a grown up.

I didn't pull them back out of my memory for real use until years later during my stint as a retail manager. It was then, while addressing customer service and employee management issues, that I began to realize how much better it felt not to hold grudges, plot revenge or react to situations with rancor and rage. Forgiving people their foolishness, poor communication skills and rudeness made it much easier to simply get to the heart of the matter and deal with the problem that needed to be fixed. I felt much better not needing to be right, but instead invested my energy in correcting the situation and moving on to whatever else needed to be done.

The forbearance part came into play most often with disgruntled employees who either felt compelled to pick fights with customers who had hurt their feelings or had made them angry. Taking a deep breath, letting oneself unhook from those kind of feelings and moving into a helping stance is very had to do. It takes consciousness, loads of practice and the ability to stay engaged in situations that frequently feel as if you are being blind sided by a truck. What helped some of my sales associates and assistant management staff become more familiar with the concept was seeing me work with customers at different levels of irritation and rage.

Most people just want to feel heard, so listening was key, and making sure the customer could see I was paying attention to them was doubly important. Eye contact, affirming nods and verbal agreement made it clear to them that they were my focus. After that, it was simply a matter of figuring out what they wanted, giving it to them if I could or offering another suggestion if I couldn't and following through on that offer. With rare exception the customer was thanking me, giving me a hug and offering to buy my coffee before they waked back out the door. When they came back to shop they sought me out, showed me their children's latest school pictures and inquired about my life as if we were old friends. It feels as miraculous now as it did then.

Forgiveness and forbearance are indeed miracles, luxurious in ways that cannot be quantitatively measured. Like fine wine, each takes care, caution and time to produce, but are worth the necessary effort. Forgiving is giving something to another person before they may deserve it in our eyes. Forbearance is continuing that practice of forgiveness for as long as it takes. I believe Jesus said something about "seventy times seven," but I don't think he was being literal, just expansive and generous.

Perhaps those are two more luxuries of being a grown up.

Author's Bio: 

The Rev. Cory L. Kemp, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay with a double major in Communication and the Arts and Social Change and Development and a minor in Women's Studies, was ordained into the ministry of the Moravian Church in North America after completing her Master of Divinity degree studies through Moravian Theological Seminary. Over twenty-five years of experience in individual and community ministries gives Rev. Kemp an informed perception about faith, its implications and struggles in everyday life. Rev. Kemp focuses her work on helping people understand their faith and how faith can become transformational in their lives. Bring authentic, meaningful faith into your daily life by visiting