When our daughter outgrew her swing set, we sold it to an acquaintance who struggled to find a truck and some buddies to help haul it away. We weren’t home when his plan came together, so we told him to go ahead and get started. They removed the swings and were dismantling the slide when a woman came out of the house and asked why they stealing her swing set in broad daylight. They were at my neighbor’s house!
It’s a nightmare having a pizza delivered in my neighborhood. With its poorly marked winding streets all named after trees, the poor driver can never find our house—seriously, I use the strobe light app on my smart phone to signal them from the driveway or else they circle aimlessly while my dinner grows cold. There are people who have lived in our neighborhood for over 35 years who still don’t know the street names!
I got lost in my neighborhood, too.
I wandered aimlessly through my neighborhood, not paying attention to the people living around me. I refused to look up from my busy life and notice what was happening all around me. So when God reminded me of His #2 command to love my neighbor as myself, I was a little surprised. Then I was excited! But then I got scared. And finally, I told God why this was a just a terrible idea.
I patiently explained to the Lord that I was too busy to invest in my neighbor’s lives. I was caring for my husband and our daughter, working from home, volunteering at church and school, going to ministry school—these are all good and necessary things, right?
You know what else? I’m not spiritual enough. I don’t know the answers to life’s toughest questions. I’m a work in progress, an imperfect and implausible witness. Perfect excuse, right?
Besides, my house isn’t ready. I can’t plan Pinterest-worthy parties. You told Martha to back off, didn’t You? You want me to be tied up in religious business like her sister, Mary, right?
It’s risky. You never know who’s lurking behind those blinds. My neighbors don’t seem friendly. I could get hurt.
I had every excuse in the book, and most of them were valid.
I am busy, I am broken, my house is dusty, people are unpredictable. Trouble was, I couldn’t find an exception clause in the second-greatest commandment (trust me, I looked hard)—
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37–39
I had every excuse in the book for not loving my neighbor, and a few I’m sure God had never heard before—but I couldn’t find an asterisk or exemption to get me off the hook. After months of arguing with God, I finally knocked on my neighbors’ doors and invited them for coffee at my kitchen table.
At first, it felt awkward. It wasn’t always easy. But now? Since I’ve met Juanita and Linda, Mary Ann and Mary Sharon, Bonnie and Lauren? And my neighbors sat together in my living room last night and talked and laughed and cried and prayed?
Oh, yeah—the reward was worth the risk.
How about you? How are you loving your neighbors? Share a comment about how you reach out (or want to reach out!) to your neighbors, and you’ll be entered to win this lovely prize pack:
- 2 MUGS Adorable “Love Your Neighbor” mugs, one for you, one for your neighbor!
- 10 CARDS to ask your neighbor over for coffee, board games, BBQ – you name it! Invite one neighbor or the whole block, whatever works.
- 2 COFFEES Single-serve Columbian coffees.
- 2 COASTERS to put under your steaming mugs.
- 1 BOOK A signed copy of Amy’s book, How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird.
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