Yesterday was hard but here are 5 ways to love your neighbor today. If you’ve been reading my blog it’s no secret I spend quite a bit of time at home. I’m an introvert, a homebody, and I even work from home. My house and I have a lot of togetherness. So, when I talk about loving my neighbors today I mean my actual neighbors, the people who live in my neighborhood.
1. BEFRIEND THEM
Like I said, I’m an introvert so I’m not always the first person to introduce myself when I’m in a new situation. When we moved into our house about a year ago, our next door neighbor came over while we were in the driveway one day. She introduced herself, asked our names, apologized that her kitchen window looked right at us, and told us about her church. Last January my husband went next door to drop off some mail that had mistakenly been delivered to our house. He asked how their holiday was and found out that it was a sad holiday. Our neighbors had lost their daughter to cancer a few days before Christmas. When I heard that it made my heart sink. I had no idea the sweet lady and her husband who live next door were going through anything like that. I’ve noticed every day they keep their front door and garage door open. For light, for air, for anyone to stop by? I don’t know the reason. Sometimes my introversion keeps me from befriending my neighbors like I could. We can love our neighbors by simply knowing them, and knowing when they might need a helping hand. It’s a balance of boundaries but introducing ourselves is the first step.
2. FEED THEM
Everyone likes food right? When I moved into my first house one of my neighbors stopped by with their kids and a fresh, homemade pie. It was very hospitable, sweet, and unexpected. I really didn’t think people did that type of thing anymore. When one of their daughters rang my doorbell asking for an egg because her mother was baking I felt like it was another century. Unfortunately, I was fresh out of eggs but I smiled as I watched her run to ask the next neighbor for one. A few months later I found a plate of Christmas cookies on my doorstep. Food is an easy way to make a kind gesture and even if the food itself isn’t appreciated the effort likely will be.
3. SUPPORT THEIR CHILDREN
There’s no such thing as other people’s children. Last fall a teenager knocked on our front door. She was selling hoagies to raise money for school band. I not-so-fondly remember doing the same thing when I was in high school. I looked at her with nostalgia and compassion. My husband had never heard of people selling deli meat door-to-door and was elated that this kind of thing was happening to him now that he lived in Pittsburgh. I bought a hoagie of course. It’s what you do, you know?
Our neighbor across the street has a 9 year old daughter who I expect will be in a sales position one day. She regularly sets up a lemonade stand at the end of her driveway and shouts at every person and car that goes by, trying to make a sale. As the afternoon comes to a close the prices get cheaper. We tried her lemonade one day. It wasn’t great. (Just keeping it honest.) We’ll buy some again next time though.
This same neighbor took on a partner last spring and came to our door with a wagon full of left over school supplies for sale. I looked back and forth between the two girls and asked what they were going to do with the money. They said they might put it in the “poor box” at school. Look, I don’t think I got a completely honest answer. I probably funded their trips to the snack bar at the pool this summer but I bought a few things anyway. They are my neighborhood kids. I want to show them my support. (Good thing there aren’t more of them because it would get expensive!) I want them to remember me and know if they need something they can run and ask the nice lady who paid a dollar for an old package of tissues.
4. LOOK OUT FOR THEM
In life, and in our neighborhoods, we have to look out for each other. A few years ago we were experiencing a cold snap. I think the high was 7 degrees. I left my house to meet some friends for lunch and unbeknownst to me, my garage door hadn’t closed correctly and had gone back up after I was out of sight. My neighbor called me to tell me my garage door was up and my pipes were going to freeze. Before I could even respond he said, “Don’t worry, Eleanor is on it.” I didn’t see it happen of course but the mental image of my 75 year old neighbor forcing my garage door down in 7 degree weather makes me happy. They were looking out for me and taking care of me and asking nothing in return. Neighbors.
5. SAVE THEIR LIVES
Ok, this one might be a bit of a stretch but if given the opportunity, I think we should save each other’s lives. One of my friends has a neighbor who we are convinced is her guardian angel. One fateful day a few years ago she fell through a hole in the attic floor above her garage. As she dangled in a very precarious position with 3 children under the age of 5 scurrying under her feet my bet is a few swear words and prayers were said, probably at the same time. Her daughter ran for help and her neighbor soon arrived with a ladder to rescue her. Thank God. A few bruises and a little bit of pride were nothing in comparison to the more severe injuries she could have sustained.
A few months later that same friend found herself feeling light headed in the produce section at her local grocery store. As she looked up from her spot on the ground she saw fruits, vegetables, and her neighbor, her guardian angel. He waited with her, looked out for her, and befriended her in that moment. We can save each other’s lives. That might mean we catch each other when we fall. Or it might mean we sit with each other after we do.
Today we are all neighbors. We can befriend each other, feed each other, support each other’s children, protect each other, and in doing so, we just might save each other’s lives.