5 Ways to say, ‘Won’t You be My Neighbor?’

March 9, 2009

in Everyday Lessons

We all know we should love our neighbors as ourselves.  But, it’s hard to love someone you don’t know. Read on to find a few easy ideas to get out there and know your neighbors better.  And please comment to share ideas you’ve found helpful in this area.  Soon we’ll all be singing, ‘It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.’

A Surprising Neighbor

We have lots of definitions for the word, ‘Neighbor,’ these days.  When Jesus was asked exactly ‘who’ a neighbor was, He answered with a long story with a surprising twistThe person least likely (in the minds of Jesus’ listeners) to be a good neighbor was the only one who even tried.

When I think of Jesus’ command to ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ I’m challenged and humbled.  I know I don’t even love my husband, my children, and my parents as much as I love myself…much less the neighbor that isn’t ‘attached’ to me. I’m not naturally good at loving my neighbor but I’m excited that the weather is growing warmer and the opportunities to be ‘neighborly’ are plentiful.

Proximity Matters

During our few short years of marriage, my husband and I have found that when it comes to loving others,  proximity matters.  It’s easiest to naturally connect with those who live and work near the areas where we live and work. And yet, the funny thing is, many of us barely know the people with whom we share fences, pavement, and even walls.  Honestly, it’s hard to LOVE those people who we don’t KNOW.  And if we don’t see our neighbors lying on the side of the road (like the one in Jesus’ story), we often don’t know them well enough to discover how we can love them well.

5 Ways

So, here’s a quick list of 5 ways to get to know your neighbor…with the hopes that as we know our neighbors more, we’ll reach out in love to them in the days ahead.

  1. Be outside as much as possible-in the front yard. We live in a townhouse and have a very steep backyard so I’ve basically learned this one by coincidence. But, it’s amazing how much more we naturally bump into our neighbors by hanging out in the front yard. Walks around the block are great but just sitting in the yard provides great opportunity to visit with neighbors as they come in and out.  Think about tasks you’re doing inside and try to find ways to do them outside.
  2. Borrow and share with your neighbors. This idea is straight from Randy Alcorn.  He points out that many times every home on a block owns the same tools.  And yet these tools are only used every now and again. If you buy some hedge clippers, a tall ladder, a great nozzle for the waterhose, a bicycle pump-offer their use to your neighbors.  And, if you know your neighbors have something that you don’t (or even if you’re not sure)-ask!  One of the best ways for Christians to be more approachable with our neighbors is to seem less self-sufficient and able to accept help from others.
  3. Celebrate the seasons.  Make little cards or treats or something that celebrates small holidays like Valentine’s, St. Patrick’s Day, or Memorial Day.  Knock on your neighbor’s doors and just say hi as you deliver the treat.
  4. Be involved in neighborhood affairs. I do this one poorly as I often feel too stretched.  But, I know this is a great way to be TEAM with your neighbors and to give your resources for the improvement of the whole neighborhood.
  5. Use the shops, parks, and businesses near your home.  Sometimes, its tempting for us to head across town especially if there’s a park or store that’s more attractive.  But, bumping into your neighbors in places outside of your neighborhood is a great way to increase familiarity and provide new ways of interaction.

Your Turn

Okay, it’s your turn.  I know many of you are much better at being neighborly than I am. I know, because I’ve heard some of your stories.  So, please share your wisdom and experience and methods that have worked to help you love your neighbor as yourself.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lora March 9, 2009 at 5:11 pm

I know you missed my comments. Like this post – a lot.

xo,
Lora

Lora’s last blog post..At Casa Bernabe.

2 Mindy March 9, 2009 at 9:20 pm

We do a caroling party around Christmastime each year, where we invite our non-neighbor and neighbor friends to sing carols around our neighborhood and then join us for hot cocoa & cookies back at our house. It’s become a fun tradition, and a great way to spread holiday cheer to those around us.

Mindy’s last blog post..Telling True Stories

3 V. Higgins March 10, 2009 at 12:19 pm

I love this idea, I’ve been trying to warm up the rather “chilly” atmosphere that seems to be part & partial of apartment complexes. Being a rather shy person, do you have any ideas specific to apartment dwellers?

4 misty March 10, 2009 at 4:19 pm

oh, this is a topic near and dear to my heart! in our previous neighborhood, i felt connected and knew i could borrow a cup of sugar if i needed to. however, since we moved here 5 months ago, i just feel so disconnected. i’m kind of old fashioned and hoped ppl would see us moving in and want to introduce themselves. it never happened. this is an odd mix of homes, and apparently, it’s mostly older couples who work. i’m a stay at home mom w/ 2 young ones. there are whole weeks where i literally never see anyone outside, let alone their cars coming and going. it makes me so sad. i went to a garage sale saturday and wa so impressed that everyone knew each ohter and there was a whole friendly vibe thing going on. i want that. i even told myself to make cookies or pumpkin bread this past fall, but i got very sick w/ early pregnancy and just didn’t feel up to it, and now i feel it’ll be weird if i try to connect and we’ve been here half a year already!
i did, however, notice that the lady across the street is VERY pregnant. i thought of intro’ing myself and offering to make a meal.
i do think community is so important.

misty’s last blog post..Why diabetes sucks and projects to distract me

5 Kika March 12, 2009 at 1:26 am

I am NOT very good at this. At church or in the community I am not shy about introducing myself or welcoming others… but in my neighborhood it feels so hard – more forced, I guess. Also, many longer-time residents already get together but it usually involves beer and sports. Not my thing. I do like your idea of spending time in the front yard so we’re available to chat with others and hope I remember by the time our yard is no longer covered in three feet of white stuff:)

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