When we were dating he used to embarrass me. A lot. He is not the type to care too much about what people think. He’s bold, honest, and not afraid of confrontation. I was mortified quite often back then. I used to care way too much about what people thought. What if they think I’m strange? What if I say something that offends them? What if I share too much about myself? It all boils down to pride. Whether you’re shy or very outspoken, the insecurities we have almost always come back to pride. Me, me, me. I remember when I got the revelation that being too shy is prideful. That was an important turning point for me.
Thanks to Jesus and my husband who learned early on that you have to be who you are no matter what others think, I have come far from where I was. I have been pushed out of my shell many times over and I’ve decided that life is too short for all the “What if’s…” So what if people think I’m strange. So what if not everyone likes me. Not everyone will and that’s ok because life is not about me! It’s about being who He designed me to be to accomplish His purpose in this life. Now that is freedom.
In the past few years, the Lord has given me a desire to get to know those around me that He’s placed in my path. I’ve knocked on many neighbor’s doors with cookies or chicken eggs (yep, feed ‘em good and they’ll love you, ha!), and I’ve gained some great friends and acquaintances and learned things that I never would have had I not stepped outside my fears. I won’t say that its easy for me to do this all the time. I still have my struggles and I still like to be a homebody sometimes, but the benefits have far exceeded the momentary fear of what someone might say or think if I knock on their door.
Right before we moved into this house, I wanted to meet the neighbors next to us, so the night before the big move I knocked on doors letting them know that the moving truck might be blocking the alley for a couple hours in the morning. Easy peasy! I met two sets of neighbors right then! After that, we were lucky enough to have a power outage for a couple of hours which meant that LOTS of neighbors actually came OUTSIDE into their front yards! How often does that happen?! I jumped at the chance to congregate with the 4-5 other couples and families who were gathered around talking about the outage, and met a whole lot more of the neighbors. Then, after the woman across the street brought us homemade bread, I returned with cookies and since then have had lovely discussions with this great painter who has already raised her children and loves the Lord and has brought little gifts over for my kids. Simple things like complimenting their gardening and asking them what they think about certain plants and how to prune, etc. go a long way in getting to know them better. Wave at them when they’re outside. If you see a family outside with their kids, bring yours over and introduce them. Going for walks on Saturday and Sunday afternoons or evenings are great times for seeing other neighbors outside since that’s such a prime time for gardening or taking care of the house and yard. Which leads me to today’s story. I admire one neighbor’s house every time we drive down the alley because I could tell he was a great gardener. Flowers and bushes spilling over the fence, beautiful landscaping, and I knew he did it himself since I’d seen him outside with his rototiller. So today after coming home from the water park we saw him backing into the driveway and I mentioned to Keith that that was the man whom I would love to ask questions about gardening. Being tired (and maybe a little shy, lol) I didn’t go much beyond that but then Keith says, “Well, let’s ask him.” So he rolls down the window and introduces us. I told you, I love this guy. No fear. And the man invites us to come over anytime to see his backyard!! *happy dance* So, getting the kids situated inside, I head over to their house with some eggs. His wife answers the door and invites me back to see one of the most beautiful back yards complete with a very nice sized vegetable garden, a hammock, beautiful flowers, and a large koi pond with a waterfall. Stunning! I asked questions and listened and the wife even offered to walk down and look at my yard with me! Because of this one evening, I have learned not only about what the strange plants are that are growing in my yard and how to prune my flower bushes, but I’ve learned about a wife and mother of seven who has fought through cancer twice and knee surgery and who is now waiting for a knee replacement. Hard for a woman who used to be a marathon runner. They have seen their share of struggles and I now know how to pray for them…at least more than I did if I would have never knocked on their door.
It’s not about us. It’s about Jesus wanting to use us right where we are. As a stay at home mom, my neighbors are important to me. I can’t not know the people who I spend most of my hours around. And I think deep down, we all probably want the days back when block parties were normal and people stayed outside talking in the evenings while the kids played together down the street.
Let us step out right where we are. Let us put aside the fears and “what ifs” and be ourselves to the very people that the Lord has us around! Sure, you might get embarrassed or not get a reply at all when you say “Hello” to them for the fourth time (we may or may not have a neighbor like this), but who cares? Think of all the things you could gain! Even if its just knowledge as to how to pray for someone, its still worth it.
Let’s bring back the block parties even if it means it has to start with us.