"Had I seen our lives as connected beyond a ceiling and a floor, our story and this one might have started out not with a bang on the door but with an invitation for a cup of tea." -Lisa Gornick
When you think about neighboring perhaps you think about some kind of obligation. Maybe you simply want to be obedient to the Great Commandment. Perhaps you think it's simply the right thing to do for those who live closest to you.
But have you considered where you fall into this equation? You see I don't think God commanded us to love our neighbors only for their benefit. He knew something many of us don't know or have been told not to admit; neighboring is good for us too.
When I think of what I really want in my little community, my dream for my neighborhood, if you will, I think of deep, close relationships. I don't want to just know people's names or bring them cookies, I want to share life with them.
Healthy relationships are mutual. They require both parties to be able to give and take. Sometimes I pursue my neighbors and sometimes they pursue me. (The exception to this is when one person is in a particularly difficult season of life and needs to be loved and served. However most difficult seasons are thankfully temporary.) Should mutual pursuit ever cease to occur, or stop completely on one side our relationship would suffer. If left unchecked it would eventually die.
I have mentioned before how difficult it has been for me to leave my home state for life in Texas this year. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that being in relationship with my neighbors has been a huge part of what has gotten me through this difficult season. And when I have nothing but questions for God regarding our life here, I see a glimpse of what may be His purpose in this community.
Since living in our small apartment complex we have given:
- Cups of flour
- Rides to the store
- Rides to the mechanic
- Baked goods
- Counsel in difficult times
- Resources for community events
But since living here we have received:
- Human interaction on my quiet days of working from home
- Surprises at my doorstep
- Love and treats for our Bassett Hound
- Unexpected visits that brighten our day
- The use of other's cars (we're a one car family)
- Care when we're sick our hurting
- Invitations to happy hour or birthday celebrations in our neighbors' homes
It is good to love and serve others, particularly your neighbors. But it is also good to allow yourself to be loved and served. You are not God's plan for redeeming His creation. Jesus already did that. But God does choose to use you. He plants you in specific places amongst specific people for specific purposes. And sometimes that purpose is you.
This post is part of the 31 Days of Neighboring series.