Do you know your neighbors? How do you love your neighbors?
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I’m finally finishing up my short series on loving our neighbors. In this series’ first post, I shared about a neighbor with whom we struggled to have a good relationship and how prayer was the first step to over-coming that. In part two, I talked a bit about learning about our neighbors through observation and seeking ways to serve our neighbors. Today I want to share some specific ways to open doors for getting to know your neighbors better.

Get out for a walk.
Loving Our Neighbors - Pt. 3 | apaigefromourbook.com

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Spring is upon us and even last week’s snowstorm here in Minnesota has almost been forgotten. With the temps warming up, I’m noticing more and more neighbors coming out into their yards or headed out to walk the parkway with their  children and/or pets. This is the perfect time of year to get reacquainted

 with neighbors you haven’t seen much of all winter long and it’s the best time to say hello to neighbors you haven’t met as of yet. Take your family on a walk together either before or after the general dinner hour. When you are out as a family, there is a greater likelihood for conversation with those around you. For whatever reason, when a husband and wife are walking together, there is less intimidation to talk to others and when kids and pets are along, things usually get easier because they are great conversation starters. If your kids are like mine, they may literally start the conversation for you. =) Don’t wait for others to talk to you. Be gracious and friendly! 

“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Prov. 18:24 KJV

Some may not respond to you or may simply say hello and walk on, but if you know they live near by, you can introduce yourself and your family and let them know that you live near them. If a neighbor is working in their yard, ask them about their flower beds or compliment a part of their yard or house that you really like. 
Loving Our Neighbors - Pt. 3. | apaigefromourbook.com

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I know that even starting a conversation with someone can be uncomfortable for some of us. I am certainly not the most out-going person, but I have learned a lot from my husband. Adam can talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime. He has no inhibitions starting a conversation with a perfect stranger, mainly because he isn’t worried about saying the perfect thing or worried about what people might think. When I want to meet neighbors, I plan strategically when my hubby will be around so we can do it together.  Maybe both you and your spouse are not as outgoing. What might help give you that little push? Perhaps planning a walk with friends who live in the area who are a bit more outgoing. When you are comfortable and enjoying yourself with friends, people will take note and feel comfortable talking to you. Just make sure that you don’t get so wrapped up interacting with your friends that you forget to pursue conversation with those you come across on your walk. Bike rides can work too, so long as you remember that this is a leisurely, purposeful bike ride.
Go to the park.
If you have children or grandchildren, time at the park is not only a great way for the kids to run off some energy or make some fun family memories, it’s also a great place to meet those who live around you. If you’re like me and my kids, you probably have a favorite park  that has the best play equipment or best grass for throwing the frisbee or baseball, but on these occasions, go to the park nearest to your house, even if it isn’t your favorite playground/park. Look for other families to interact with. Again, kids make this pretty easy.
Loving Our Neighbors - Pt. 3 | apaigefromourbook.com

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Be in the front yard.
I realize that not every neighborhood is like ours, but I would guess that most of us spend time in our {often fenced}, backyards. There might be opportunities to interact with neighbors over the fence, but {generally} there is more opportunity to interact with a greater number of neighbors in your front yard. Take a drink and sit in your front yard or on your front steps if you don’t have anywhere to sit out front. Maybe play catch with the kids out there or let your children play hopscotch on the sidewalk. It’s amazing how many people you will able to talk to when you are out spending time in your front yard. Again, be purposeful in engaging those who are walking by or those neighbors who are hopefully out in their yards. Lots of people are raking and working in flower beds in the spring, so there are lots of opportunities. 
Bring a welcome note.
When we moved into our house, the neighbors immediately to the south of us, came by with a plate of cookies and a postcard welcoming us to the neighborhood, with their names and phone numbers on it. It not only made us feel welcome, but their willingness to share their first names and phone numbers with us let us know that they wanted to get to know us and they wanted to be friendly neighbors. It was great to keep on the fridge initially as a reference for their names and now I keep it their as a reminder to pass on the friendly blessing to future new neighbors. **Being on a first name basis with neighbors is a not the norm anymore, so make it a priority, it will make a difference!
Give a small seasonal gift.
May baskets are a tradition that may be going the way of the past, but they don’t have to. Drop a tin or basket of treats {they don’t even have to be homemade} with maybe a couple of stems of flowers and cute card with a friendly, neighborly message, at the door of neighbors that live the closest to you. 

In the fall, you could give small pumpkins or a small basket of hand picked apples and there are a lot of cute ideas on Pinterest for inexpensive gifts for neighbors at Christmas time. Let’s be real, if you are looking for a cute idea for anything, Pinterest will undoubtedly have it. =)

Be available.
Several summers ago, a house down the street had a fire. The smoke and water damage was pretty bad and the family had to leave for months while things were gutted and redone. My heart was filled with compassion for this family and yet I felt intimidated to go over the next day and ask how we could help. I so didn’t want to be seen as a snoopy neighbor. Thankfully my hubby wasn’t afraid to check in on them and told them we would love to bring them a meal. My fear of man almost got in the way of caring for our neighbors. 

Be available to your neighbors when obvious needs arise. It might be a death in the family or a birth. If you live in an area where it snows, you could shovel your neighbors walk for them. Maybe you know they have had an injury or as in our case a fire. Don’t let the worry of being a nosy neighbor stop you from offering care. It might be a neighbor you have never met before, and yet an introduction with that kind of care speaks volumes. 

Be real.
More than likely it won’t take long for your neighbors to figure out that you’re a Christian. It won’t be difficult to see that you leave for church every Sunday and they’ll pick it up in other ways too. Along with that will come their idea of who you are based on their idea of what you believe.  
Loving Our Neighbors - Pt. 3 | apaigefromourbook.com

That neighbor across the street with the LGBT flag in their porch might think that you hate people living that lifestyle. Showing them love is going to be more important than placing that political sign in your front yard. You don’t need to compromise your beliefs to show them love, but I think your convictions aren’t going to open doors to the Gospel as much as your genuine love and care for them will. 

It’s counter-Christian-cultural to let our neighbors see that we know we’re sinners. We’re taught to only show our best side, but here’s the thing. They live next door; they live across the street. They are going to hear us yell at our kids or our spouse. They’re going to see our sin even when we think they can’t. I’m not saying we should use this as an excuse to sin, but you’ll shoot yourself in the foot if you parade around as if you have it all together instead of humbly being real. Little else shuts doors to relationships with neighbors as fast as a Christian who preaches sin, yet acts as though he/she has none. 

Get together.
We often sit around waiting for someone else to initiate that neighborhood party. I was deeply encouraged when friends of ours took the bull by the horns and planned a block party. They went door to door and invited everyone on both sides of their street. They hosted the party and though not everyone came the first year, the turn-out was encouraging and it was even better the next year. You could start by volunteering to organize your street or neighborhood’s National Night Out block party. You can contact your city leaders or local police department for more info about what’s happening {or not happening}  in your area. Getting your neighbors together and building those relationships is great on many levels. It helps cut down on crime, it builds relationships and it can even affect the real estate value of neighborhood homes.
Loving Our Neighbors - Pt. 3 | apaigefromourbook.com

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If you take anything away from this short series, please let it be this: Pray for opportunities and then be courageous and just go out and do something. You don’t have to knock on doors every weekend {I’m not encouraging you to make a nuisance of yourself}, but don’t let another spring and summer pass without getting to know your neighbors and show them that you care.
What are some things you have done to get to know your neighbors? I would love to hear your ideas or maybe a story of how you built/are building relationship with a neighbor!
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Written by hmbrachle@gmail.com

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