Need thy Neighbor

I haven’t been sharing much. Mostly because I haven’t had much to share. My soul has been quiet… some days quietly content with the season we’re in and where God has brought us to, other days quietly in anguish as I scan headlines and wonder what our world, nation, and city will look like in 10 years.

Devastation seems to be occuring at a rapid rate, the media screams fear, and sometimes (most of the time) it’s paralyzing. So many nations, including ours, are in crisis and I’m supposed to sit back and plan for a normal life as I live my normal (normal meaning mildly-moderately dysfunctional yet drenched in God’s grace and mercy) life?

The truth is I’ve always carried a measure of the world’s brokenness in my soul, but how I carry it has changed. I used to think I had to do something radical to help… Move to a developing country, have a large platform, etc.

But oh how God has changed my call-to-action… Or rather, clarified it.

During a season when I felt empty and purposeless, God opened my eyes to a people group I had never seen before: our neighbors.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark‬ ‭12:30-31‬ ‭

Because at a time when the world is seemingly falling apart, when people are more connected yet more lonely than ever, when we have every reason to be suspicious of every person we come in contact with… what if the best thing we can do is love our neighbors? Yes, our literal neighbors.

If I can wake up everyday and remember that everyone has pain and everyone wants love, I will be more aware of the people I pass in the hall, on the street, and at the grocery store.  And sometimes loving your neighbor is as simple as that: being aware. Seeing. Noticing. Looking someone right in the eyes and smiling instead of pulling out your phone and pretending to read a text.

They need you to see them… And you know what? You need them to see you.

A few hours after I started writing this blog, I was walking in from the parking garage juggling one million things (ladies, why do we do this?!). I passed a neighbor I’d never met and he quickly lent me a hand. My kneejerk reaction was, “Oh no! I’m fine!” but before I could spill out the words out, he was already helping.

You see, I need my neighbors just as much as they need me. I have just as much to learn from them as they do from me. It’s easy to love and be loved when our lives are only big enough for people who think like us, act like us, and look like us, but why live so small? …why love so small?

So, here’s your remedy for the days when you feel like the world is spinning out of control and you’re tempted to join the noise instead of cut through it with love: go take a walk and wave hello to a stranger. Help someone carry their groceries in. Don’t be afraid to walk next door and ask for butter when you run out. Throw a block party. And most of all, when you are tempted to choose fear instead of love, don’t… because only love can warm a world that’s growing cold.

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-7