My neighbors kept me up last night. Not the noise, no parties or even an ill-placed time for mowing the lawn. Actually the scene had ended hours earlier but it kept running through my head.
He was upset. Lots of yelling. Apparently I missed the big show and only saw the encore performance and it was enough to have me concerned. The children weren’t just awake, they were standing right in front of them. Then the cruisers pulled up while he was getting into his car.
This is not their first visit to the home.
Tell me, dear friends, what helping looks like? What does it look like to be a good, loving neighbor? How do you show concern and make it clear you’re not passing judgement? How do you make yourself available without putting yourself in the middle?
We don’t know these people – which is probably the first step. We don’t know names, ages or kids. We don’t know what they do for a living or why anger rises so quickly. I only know she told him that she “was only surviving.” (Because he told the neighborhood “I don’t need you to be only f*cking surviving.”)
What started as a beautiful evening of me escaping children/reading on the porch and JJ watering flowers ended with us retreating into the house because we simply don’t have a way to process and manage this information. How do you love your neighbor – your literal neighbor – as yourself? How do you truly help? Is calling the cops considered helpful? Because after they showed up when nothing was going on, he got into his car and left. The car sits in the driveway this morning.
This is the messy stuff of life that we don’t have an example. Jesus surely would’ve went over to make sure the woman was okay, but he roamed from town to town “with no place to lay his head” so he didn’t have to live next to them the following week. This level of relationship gets tricky. The dynamics of neighboring here and now seem far more complicated than his command to love everyone like those living in immediate proximity.
My theory about societal problems is that we outsource too much. We expect the professionals to do everything and live as if it’s not our problem. We’re quick to call the cops and slow to make a casserole. Everyone that has problems somewhere has some sort of neighbor. I just don’t know how to care for a neighbor with both concern and grace, that makes them feel loved while not put on the defensive for the show that happened last night.
Someone, please show me what that looks like.