Southern Hospitality // Art of Neighboring, Part 2 [Devo]

Southern Hospitality

Art of Neighboring, Part 2
I grew up in a small, rural town in Southern West Virginia. Most of my family has lived there for generations. It’s the kind of town where everyone knows each other — they go to the same church, attend the same community events, wave as they pass by one another. And they’re some of the best neighbors to ever exist. As a kid, if something was broken, a neighbor was there to fix it. If my mom needed a sitter, a neighbor was there to watch us. If a family member passed away, countless neighbors would show up with meals for weeks, ready to do anything they could to ease the agony of loss.  

I feel so fortunate to have grown up in this type of community, with such a great example of neighborly love. My childhood neighbors seemed to really get, and live out, Luke 10:27:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
On Sunday, Pastor Josh wrapped up the series “The Art of Neighboring” by discussing the challenges we face in being a good neighbor.

Growing up, I wouldn’t have thought there were any obstacles to being a good neighbor — mine made it look so easy. But I’ve come to realize, as an adult, that being a good neighbor takes intention.

I’ll admit, I haven’t always been the best neighbor. My husband and I have lived in several different places since we were married. We’ve had some great neighbors who were easy to love along the way. We’ve also had some pretty difficult ones. And it’s not easy to be a good neighbor to a difficult neighbor.

It’s not easy to be a good neighbor to a difficult neighbor.

In the last place we lived, we were thrilled to move into one of the most charming, peaceful streets in the entire town. It was like a Hallmark movie…where the sidewalk-lined streets were daily filled with the friendliest neighbors and kids riding their bikes.

One day, though, we came home from vacation to discover that our next-door neighbor had moved and rented his home to another family. At first, we welcomed it, because the new family had kids the same age as ours. But things quickly took a bad turn, and it was clear that this family was going to bring chaos to our quaint little street. I’ll save you all the details, but their loud and public disputes were among many things that contributed to how our neighborhood viewed them.

I’m sad to say, I went through a short period where I was speaking negatively about them to other neighbors, and closing my garage door rather than leaving it open like before. But at some point, I made the decision to be kind to them, even though they brought an unwanted change to our community. Maybe it was the influence from my childhood neighbors, maybe it was the fact my own kids needed a loving example set for them… I knew they likely wouldn’t be our best friends, but I also knew they would be treated with love and made to feel welcome by my family.

They ended up moving just a few months later, but I still find myself hoping they were positively impacted by the kindness of my family.

Being a good neighbor isn’t always easy. But God has called us to love our neighbors and to make a difference where we live. If you’re walking through a challenging situation with a neighbor, I encourage you this week to ask God to help you overcome the obstacle that’s keeping you from loving them.
Author: Melissa Parker, Communications Specialist 
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