Being a Good Neighbor
Last night was National Night Out here in Texas. Always a month later than the rest of the world because of the heat.
This was my third year hosting this event for our neighborhood, with the help of our next door neighbors. Upfront, I am going to say that we were extremely blessed with the neighbors we live by. Our house is sandwiched in-between two awesome couples with kids close i
n age to our own. And the next few houses down have kiddos the same age as well. So needless to say, I am writing this from a biased standpoint. However, I still believe that most of what I have to say would still be valid regardless.
So let me start off by asking you… when was the last time you drove through your neighborhood, like you normally do, feeling so routine and so disconnected to where you are?
I have heard a lot of people say that they don’t feel connected to their community. But when asked if they volunteer anywhere in their city or if they have met their neighbors, the answer is typically no. We are so quick to want everything to come to us. While at the same time avoiding the uncomfortable. It is not always about getting, as it should be about giving.
Sometimes they need a friend, just like you. And sometimes you need a neighbor, just like them.
The people you live next to have a story just like you. They have issues, just like you. Sometimes they need a friend, just like you. And sometimes we need a neighbor, just like them.
My neighbors are older than I am. I remember moving here feeling like no one would be interested in the “kids” next door. However all it took was for someone to say the first awkward hello, and the rest was history. We have spent many a nights (“many a nights”…this turned folk story real quick!), outside our houses chatting while the kids are riding bikes in the street. All of the families we know around us are different in each of their own ways. But we seem to always find a common ground, being a good neighbor.
When we are out of town, our neighbors grab our mail for us and we return the favor when they need it as well. Several times my neighbor has texted me to let me know I forgot to close our garage and they closed it for us. Currently I walk one of our neighbors dogs during the weekdays, while they are at work. This means they trust me to come into their home and to take care of their puppy child. Maybe you can’t see letting yourself into your neighbors home when they are away. And I am not saying it always looks like that. But being a good neighbor takes a selfless concern for one another. But shouldn’t we live like that will all people anyway? (Cue your pondering in deep thought to consider if this is true for you. Just a nudging prompt in case you didn’t go there on your own….subtle right?).
But we are called to love our neighbor. And honestly, most of us could use some new friends. One’s that actually exist outside of Facebook. Mark 12:31, calls us to this: “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”. This is when Jesus is telling the Sadducees the most important commandments. Loving your neighbor, being the second. I believe in the Word. I believe that is was made to bring light into the darkness. I can definitely see how knowing your neighbors and being a good nieghbor could bring light into the dark.
Imagine the impact on the neighborhood if we knew those that live around us. We might have the ability to notice the things that don’t belong, because we know what does. Providing a safer environment for children, families and maybe those that are in trouble of some sort. Not to mention it gives you a feeling of belonging. You feel connected to your neighborhood. You have a connection to the place around you, making you respect it and appreciate it a little more.
When you approach your neighbor for the first time, the worst that could happen is that your neighbor isn’t interested in your company. I am sure worse things have happened to you. And sometimes it just takes someone time to know you have genuine intentions. The way that I see it, there is nothing to lose when gaining more friendships. Some will, some won’t, who cares.
This is why I host national night out. Because I long for those sandlot days when kids put the iPads down and played football in the street, which they did last night! Score! Now if only I could remember to play America the Beautiful by Ray Charles during the next one then I would be on cloud nine. Not to mention it provides for a safer neighborhood. I also want my children to know the importance of community. The importance of loving one another, be it 3 houses down or just in your city. Where you live is your home and you should feel ties to what goes on within it. I can’t imagine God calling us to love our neighbor if it wasn’t significant enough.
So yes, I feel a calling to be a good neighbor. And sometimes it does require me to go out of my way for something. Or to host an event that comes out of my own pocket. Because I believe it is doing a greater good than what is seen on the surface. Because some day I may need a favor returned. And because someday my kids will be a neighbor.
And if one day we should live next door to one another I promise not to bother you with any casserole upon your move in, although they are bomb. However, I do promise you that my children will frequently invite themselves into your house. They are pretty good about not breaking the important stuff…most of the time.