We’ve lived in the same house for over 25 years, and we’ve had the same next door neighbors for the entire time. Not too many people can say that these days! I’ve learned a lot from that wonderful couple. Let me share just two of the lessons they’ve taught me.
When we were out of town and a freeze was coming, our neighbors covered our pipes without a word. They saved us all sorts of trouble because they took the time to notice our need. I’d like to get better at noticing the needs around me and meeting them when I can. That’s the simpler lesson, though. This next one is a little trickier.
A couple of years ago, Steve pulled out of our driveway with a rather large moving van full of furniture. He was simply helping our son and daughter-in-law move all of their worldly goods from a storage unit in Houston to an apartment in Austin. But you can imagine how that might have looked, since I wasn’t in that van with Steve. Some people would have decided to “mind their own business,” but my neighbor was at the door within the hour, just to check and make sure all was well. That meant the world to me.
Too often, I have used “minding my own business” as an excuse to avoid what could be an awkward situation when, in reality, the needs of our neighbors may well be our business if we can be of help. Our culture is too quick to call for isolation in the name of privacy.
It’s not easy to stick our necks out and ask if our friends and neighbors need help. What if they say, “Hey, butt out!” Pause for a moment to truly contemplate that question. The real answer is, “That’s probably not such a big deal. It’s probably worth the risk.”
With “worth the risk” in mind, I called a new friend not long ago. He had been across the room from me in Sunday school and just didn’t look well. It felt a little awkward to make a “Hey, are you okay?” call, but I did it anyway, leaving a voicemail when he didn’t answer. Later he called back to catch me up on life a bit, tell me how to pray for him, and express his gratitude that I cared enough to call. On the other hand, another friend hadn’t been showing up for church for a while. I didn’t make a call to her and later found out that she was very ill.
And so, I’m hoping to get better at sticking my neck out—at asking, at the risk of being rebuffed, if I can be of help or encouragement to those around me. If you’re one of the people I call, please be nice!