By Kelly Carr
“Who are the people in your neighborhood—the people that you meet each day?” That song lyric was in my head and I couldn’t recall where it was from. Through the power of Google, I saw it was a refrain from my childhood days of watching Sesame Street.
As good lessons do, this question goes beyond mere child’s play and permeates the depth of our adult hearts as well. Do you know the people in your neighborhood?
I’ll admit—I didn’t know many neighbors in the first places I lived as an adult. I recall the lovely senior citizen who lived below us in our first apartment. I think her name was Molly. But the rest of the people I passed on my way in and out each day? I couldn’t tell you.
There was a nice couple who lived next door to us at our first house. They had a cat that often visited. But I also remember the week we moved out of that house—we were in the yard and happened upon the lady whose backyard bordered ours. We introduced ourselves for the first time and admitted we were leaving soon. How sad that we shared a fence for three years yet never met.
My husband and I told ourselves that wouldn’t happen in our next home. We were intentional. We moved into a condo and invited our new neighbors over for an open house. We introduced ourselves when we saw people in the parking lot. My husband joined the condo association board so he could get to know those around us better.
It’s been a blessing. I can tell you the names of most of the residents here. We have each other’s cell phone numbers. We’ve had dinner in each other’s homes. And when we have a need, we have caring faces to call upon.
I know others in my neighborhood. I joined a book club with some of the ladies. Their kids are in school with mine. One of their daughters is our babysitter. We talk and email frequently. The friendships I’ve made with them are the strongest community outside of my church.
This was evidenced powerfully last year. One dear neighbor had cancer for the second time. Four short months after the recurrence, Suzanne passed away, leaving her husband, Aaron, and two young children behind.
My neighbors jumped into action. But it went beyond meals and words of encouragement.
Olivia exemplified it best. She didn’t think twice. She acted. She began having Suzanne’s children over to play with her kids after school so Aaron could continue his work schedule. She requested that her daughter and Aaron’s daughter be on the same soccer team so she and her family could watch his son while Aaron took the girls to practice. Olivia and her husband opened their home and their hearts and incorporated three new members into their family.
If you ask Olivia, she will humbly say they didn’t do much. But if you ask Aaron, he will say that he couldn’t have survived this past year without those neighbors.
By the way, Olivia loves Jesus. I’m sure you could tell. Her actions have ministered far beyond what she knows. Another neighbor and I stand at the bus stop and express our admiration of her. We’re convicted to step up more ourselves.
Who are the people in your neighborhood? Look around at your community—don’t just live there; be a part of it.