Last week, we got some new neighbors.
We knew they were coming when the house next door to ours sold after only a week on the market. We’d seen crews come in and out of the house, doing some remodeling, and wondered over when the new folks would be moving in. We’d talked about making sure we went over to introduce ourselves and seeing if they needed anything to help settle in.
Before we could get over there, though, they came to us.
We got a knock on our door one night and opened it up to see a young man and an older woman, both with smiles and hands held out, ready to introduce themselves. The young man explained that his parents had just bought the house next door, that he was home from college for the summer, and that they were glad to meet us. Oh, and his mother didn’t speak any English, but she was eager to meet us, too, because that’s what neighbors do, after all. We chatted with him (and with her, as much as we could) for a long while, and he asked us all about the Ironman, after seeing the sticker on Wes’s car, telling us how he’d just done his first half marathon, and asking Wes about training.
They went away that night, and I told Wes that what we’d just experienced was probably the most neighborly thing that has ever happened to us in all the places we’ve lived.
It got even better, though.
The next day, we were having a really bad thunderstorm. As soon as it let up a little, we went out to check Wes’s car to see if it had any hail damage. As we were standing out in the driveway with umbrellas, looking over the car, we saw another young man from next door come over our way. He introduced himself, telling us that his parents had just bought the house next door, that he was home from college for the summer, and he was glad to meet us. Just like his brother had already done. He noticed the Jeep in the garage and began telling us all about his Jeep, about how there was a Jeep drivers gathering of some sort going on in Galveston soon, and how fun that was going to be.
Then, he went back over to his house, telling us he’d see us around.
Why in the world am I telling you all of this? Because it was something so simple and good, these new neighbors of ours introducing themselves and making connections with us in an effort to get to know us.
And it’s something that we’ve never done.
When Wes and I got married, we weren’t sure whether we were heading overseas to the mission field or to an American pastorate. (As it turns out, that first church was a little bit of both. A church in Japan, comprised mostly of US Marines.) What we were certain of, though, was that God was calling us to be missionaries wherever we went, rooting ourselves wherever He sent us, developing relationships there, and investing in people’s lives for His glory.
Somewhere along the way, though, we got too comfortable. We’ve fallen into the trap of living like most people do — looking out for ourselves and our interests, doing our own thing, and not even seeing the people around us. Sure, we do ministry at church, but it rarely goes beyond that, to real ministry out in the real world. I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to share Christ with a neighbor down the street, and she was so surprised to hear that we’ve lived here for almost five years because she’d never even had a conversation with me until then.
I’m convicted. And I’m encouraged. I want to be more like my new neighbors, making the effort to see and know those around me, even if it’s difficult. (Can’t be more difficult, since our sweet neighbor who doesn’t even speak English was over here meeting us, right?) I want to look for ways to relate to people, like those two young men were talking about marathons and Jeeps. I want to stop being too comfortable and actually live missionally!
Here’s to being good neighbors…