love your neighbor. or not.

we live in a nice suburban neighborhood. in the middle of nowhere Ohio. 
well… to the people who grew up here it is somewhere. 
but to us. we liken it to the middle of nowhere. no offense.
we moved here from new york city. and once you’ve lived there…everywhere else seems like the middle of nowhere.
but now we live here. and we love it. 

in new york city we had neighbors but not for real neighbors.
we had next door apartment dwellers. 
we rubbed shoulders with fellow subway riders.
we scurried past hurried walkers. 
we barely made eye contact with other elevator riders.
in new york city, we “learned” how to avoid our neighbors.
and here in our lovely suburban neighborhood in the middle of nowhere we’ve kinda done the same thing. unintentionally.
we’ve lived in our house for nearly seven years. 
and only recently have we begun to know our neighbors.
it’s a shame. really.
sure. we love our church. we love our friends. we love the random strangers we meet and pray for at the grocery story, kohls and target.
but our neighbors? 
hmmm. not doing such a good job.
home sweet home. we close our garage door. a house. a job. 3 kids. a tv. we’re good. 
yet our hearts have been tugged time and time again…
meet your neighbors.
and we know how to be kind. we do have manners.
i grew up in oklahoma where everyone waves and says “howdy”.
p.a. grew up in california where everyone is smiley and everyone calls everyone “dude”.
and we didn’t ignore *all* of our new york city neighbors. 
we exchanged waves and hellos with our doormen. i mean c’mon. we at least owed them that courtesy for opening the door for us, right.
we exchanged bad breathy smiles with fellow subway riders as our bodies were pressed together crammed into this small transportation tube.
i shared fake laughs over laundry as i patiently waited for my turn to use the communal washing machine.
p.a. turned the other cheek while answering the church door to many a homeless friend who would refuse food offered if money was not in the negotiation.
i mean. we were sometimes neighborly.
so p.a. lands a job in a new church. we move to a cute little house in the middle of nowhere Ohio.
technically, we only have *ONE* neighbor because our house is on the corner.
we spend lots of time outside watching cars go by and exchanging neighborly waves.
we have a block party one summer and meet about 3 neighbors from that shindig.
we have dinner with one neighbor down the street.
we meet another few neighbors from a g-sale one saturday morning when we spread out all of our crap on our driveway to sell.
isn’t that enough neighborly interaction?
still our ears heard the whisper…
know your neighbors.

sure we are a family made up of a pastor, his wife and three kids.
yet obviously we still have a lot to learn.
and God is a God of redemption and grace.
He orchestrates who our neighbors will be and gives us opportunity to know them.
this past summer, p.a. had the chance to talk with one of our neighbors about Jesus.
i’ve chatted with a few neighbors during morning walks and quick visits when dropping off our kids at school.
some of our neighbors attend our church.
some of them have joined our worship team.
God is throwing opportunity to know our neighbors into our lap.

still the words of Jesus echo to be obeyed…
love your neighbors.

Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Leviticus 19:18.
and to not be so freakin’ selfish. duh.
our home is a sanctuary. we treasure our time together as a family. to get renewed, refreshed and refilled for the daily grind of life and ministry.
outside our home is a mission field.
just the other day, p.a. had the awesome opportunity to talk with one of our neighbors.
they just recently moved in next door to us. so yes.
they are technically our only neighbors. 
we’ve seen them sitting outside on their front porch and given the neighborly wave as we back up out of our driveway.
we’ve assumed they’re as busy as we are and avoided further contact.
but our hearts tugged and our ears heard the whisper echo…
meet. know. love. your neighbors. 
after his run the other day, p.a. went up to meet them and in a matter of minutes he learned part of their story…and invited them to church.
the husband is a pastors kid, the wife had a load of questions – she asked if it was okay that she smoked while p.a. was talking with them? yes. she asked it is okay to wear casual clothes to our church? heck yes. she asked is it okay that she cuss? hell yes. and btw so does the pastors wife. occasionally. 
*and the best part*
p.a. asked them where they moved from…
the apartments right across the street from our church.
the same apartments we’ve given groceries to.
this family received groceries from our church 2 years ago.
coincidence? i think not.

so… Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves. 
and He’s not kidding around. 

do you have any neighborly stories to share? please. do tell.

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2 thoughts on “love your neighbor. or not.

  1. Laura on Wren says:

    Yep. We live in that same cute little neighborhood. And there's a great pastor, his fabulous wife (BOOMER SOONER!) and their three adorable kids who live JUST around the corner. 🙂 We're the crazy neighbors who socialize in the front yard pretty much every weekend (and lots of weeknights, too). You can usually find us sitting on our driveway or our friends' driveways (since we all nearly got arrested for sitting in the court last year — thereby making us the wild AND crazy neighbors — ooops!) And we'd love to have you bring your lawn chairs and join us, ANYtime! Lots of opportunities to work together to reach our neighborhood for Christ! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Like

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