Saturday, April 21, 2012
Dear Daughters: Loving our Neighbors
As I pull into the driveway, I see the pile of garbage at the curb that our neighbors left behind. I feel the pain rising up in my chest. It's not because I formed some lasting bond in the past one-and-one-half-years with these people. My heart aches for you.
"I wish he didn't have to move." These are the words that sting my heart over and over as the curbside trash reminds me once again. No one will be knocking on our door to play outside with you. The tears are flowing now because I wonder if I attempted to hold too tightly to my own life as I denied you the pleasure of the times I didn't realize were so limited.
I used to dread the possibility of the doorbell ringing. It interrupted my alone time and peace. His request meant I couldn't keep to my agenda for the day. While I tried to embrace the moment, I kept them at an arms distance with fear that my safe life would be invaded with requests I couldn't maintain.
Now I realize it was only for a season. Honestly, I can do anything for a season. That's why I worry that I let you down... and him as well. It was such a short time that you had the chance to play with this boy. And every moment he interacted with our family was an opportunity to be Jesus to him.
Did we achieve this? Will he think back on his time here on Arden Place and remember us as the neighbors who lived a little differently? As he recalls the instances where he became part of our family each week, will He love Jesus more for it? Fond memories can do a lot as we get older. Will his drive him to Jesus?
It isn't even so much that you formed a close bond with our now former neighbor. It was just the excitement of having another child across the street to play with. The fact that someone wanted your time. That, and you had a lot of fun together. He was a nice kid. It showed in the fact that he intentionally came over just to say goodbye.
I wish I could promise you that we will see him again. Honestly, I just can't say for certain. Our worlds unexpectedly connected because they became our neighbors during that Blizzard of 2011. In the year-and-a-half that they lived here, I learned a lot. I was so used to growing up with my closest neighbors a mile in each direction. Being neighborly did not come naturally. I like to protect my down time here at home and that is to my fault. It was a growing experience for me. I learned when to say "yes" and when to say "no". I learned that not everyone thinks the way I do and God loves us all. We are all unique and there is something worth loving in everyone and learning from them as well.
Some people come into our lives just for a season. I believe this was the case with them. They may surprise us and contact us in the future. I hope so. It would be nice to see you smile and laugh with your unlikely friend again. But know this: I am changed because they were our neighbors. I will live more intentionally because of our interactions with them. And I will teach you to do the same. After all, this is how Jesus calls us to live.
"Jesus replied, '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 love you,