I have the best neighbors in the world. Really, I do. The Jordans, the Morrisons, the Campbells--all of them are more than neighbors. They are my family. They are the village that helped to raise my children. I can count on them for anything: mechanical advice for our beat-up vehicles from Jim; a fresh loaf of homemade bread from Ms. Marilyn; a smile and a hug from Ms. Bertha; a fervent, on-demand prayer from Mr. Coyt.
Just yesterday, when I knocked on Ms. Bertha's door at eight o'clock in the morning to share some extra squash I had, she opened the door with a smile and said the same thing she says every time I go over there: "Come on in!" And you know what? She meant it. Still in her robe, with no makeup on yet, that early in the morning, she sincerely wanted me to come in for a visit. She wasn't just being polite. I declined her invitation because I was on my way to the store, but I swear, I felt guilty about it.
I didn't want to disappoint her.
Why? Because I recognize the effort being made to reach out and love me. I know that all of my neighbors are dealing with their own pain. Emotionally and physically. The Morrisons have known unspeakable horror. Twenty-five years ago, their only daughter was brutally murdered at the unbelievably young age of 19. They could choose to be extremely bitter at God and at humankind and shut everyone out. But they don't.
They choose to forgive and they choose to love. They unselfishly take time for others.
When any of my neighbors say, "Come on in!" they truly want their guests to feel welcome and to sit and visit for a long time. If you show up unannounced, they will stop what they are doing and give you their full attention. They ask questions and are truly interested in your answers.
No lip service here; I'm not sure they would even know how.
They love to tell funny stories about their childhood, about each other, and about their children. They all wrap their arms around my children and love them as their own, despite how much pain they may be feeling. The Morrisons often tell me how much Abbey reminds them of their Rhonda when she was little. I think it may be healing for them to remember the sweet things about their child.
I love being around my neighbors. I love helping to take care of them. And that is healing for me.
I have another Neighbor as well. When I knock on God's door, He greets me with, "Come on in!" He invites me to sit with Him and talk about my stories, my pain, my drama and my crazy dreams.
He, too, has a sad heart about this fallen world. And many days, about me. But that doesn't make Him unapproachable. He forgives and chooses to love me. I am always welcome in His home and I always love the healing time I spend with Him.
And I believe He is disappointed when I am too busy to come inside and take time for Him. He doesn't care what time it is, He just wants me in His presence.
I don't even have to have on my makeup yet.
"Your friendship was a miracle-wonder, love far exceeding anything I've known— or ever hope to know." 2 Samuel 1:25-27