That is such a nice thing to say, “love you neighbor”. It’s nice when it’s theoretical, but not when it’s practical. When we moved in to our house we realized that the people who live across the street from us were weird. We lovingly refer to them as the “meat people”, because they sell meat out of the back of vans. We saw that there were a million cars over there all the time, we could never tell who actually lives there. There are cars coming and going all night. Your average suburbanite might not think that’s odd, but Glenn and I lived in the ghetto when we were early married and cars coming and going at all hours suggests to me they are selling more than meat. So, we both decided early on to be nice and smile when they waved at us but to stay as far away from them as possible. They are the people I warn my kids never to go near their house. It’s easy to love the lovely neighbors we have. Two houses down we have a lovely, Christian older couple that lend us their sled when it snows and they are just cute and sweet and we love them. It’s easy to love them. But the people across the street, I just don’t want to have anything to do with them.
One day about 6 months ago my dog got out, she does that a lot. She runs around the neighbors yards and then after a few hours comes home. She is a sweet dog and would never hurt anyone, she just isn’t very obedient and doesn’t come when called. Well, she got out this one day and someone knocks on my door. I recognized the woman standing at my door as one of the many people from across the street. When she opened her mouth I could tell she was intoxicated with something. She yelled at me telling me my dog got into her trash can and if we didn’t keep the dog out of her yard she would call animal control. I was not very happy with her, but said I would get the dog.
Two months ago I was pulling out of my driveway a little late to go pick up my kids from their first day of school, when I saw the same girl sitting on the curb in front of her house. As I pulled out, she started walking toward my car. I wanted to gun it and get out of there, but I rolled down the window to see what she wanted. She said she needed a ride down the street and it was really hot and her asthma was bothering her. I wanted to say, “no”. I was all ready to say, “no”, and God stopped me and told me to say, “yes”. God and I had a quick conversation that went like,
“God are you crazy? She yelled at me not four months ago and threatened my dog, she could be an ax murderer for all I know and you want me to give her a ride?”
All He said was, “yes.”.
Me: “Okay, fine!”.
I checked her hands quickly and scanned her for weapons. She didn’t look like she was packing and she weighed about the same as me, but knowing she was likely intoxicated again, I decided if it came down to it I could take her. So, she got into the car. She proceeded to tell me all about her life, the mess that it was and how she had grown up in church but stopped going as an adult. I just listened. She got out of the car down the street and thanked me for talking to her and hugged me and told me her name was “Elizabeth”. Yes, that is really her name. I almost swallowed my gum. I went to my son’s school to wait in car line and I was thinking about her story. She was a good girl who got involved with the wrong crowd and ended up living with these meat guys. Sad really. I felt bad for her, but decided there was nothing I could do about it. About that time my son Elijah, who is two said from the backseat of the car. “mommy, she needs help.” I was surprised, so I asked him what he said. He repeated the same thing again. I had a feeling that at that point I was not talking to just my two-year old, but that God was using him to talk to me. So, I waited a minute to process this realization and asked, “but what can I do?” Elijah said, “something”. Oh, that is real helpful. What “something” am I supposed to do? Elijah and God were silent. I assumed he would let me know at a later date what “something” was.
A few days go by and I get a note in my mailbox from Elizabeth. By this point I was hoping I was off the hook and God had forgotten all about this Elizabeth thing, of course, He hadn’t. She thanked me for talking with her and poured out her heart about being lonely and needing a friend and wanting to get closer to God again. Mind you, I had not said anything about being a Christian, we don’t have a sign on our house that says, “Christians live here” or anything. I am not even sure how she knew, but she said I was her answer to prayer. So, since that time we have been sending notes back and forth in the mailbox. She tells me about her issues, as ugly as they are, and I try to encourage her. She is reading her Bible again and praying. A week ago I invited her to church. She told me she doesn’t have a car and her boyfriend said he would not take her to church. I knew God was telling me to give her a ride, but I REALLY REALLY didn’t want to. Honestly. This whole thing is fine when it’s notes in the mailbox but her riding to church with me and coming over to my house crosses my boundary lines. I wrestled with it, because I don’t trust the guys she lives with and Satan gives me all kinds of excuses why they are a problem. What if they get mad about her going to church and hurt you or your kids? That one got me for a while until God reminded me that I was going to take my kids to a foreign country as a missionary, obviously that would not have been safe all the time. Bottom line is that God is in control and He will protect us. So, I invited her to church this Sunday, she didn’t come because she had to work, but maybe some Sunday soon she will be there. I hope so.
God has used this girl to show me what kinds of people are right across the street from me. Needy ones. Those who need a friend and need God more. I can’t live in my little bubble and not reach out. Is it easy? No way. Do I want to spend my Sunday morning with her, No! She isn’t easy to love. She may even show up to church drunk, who knows. But she needs God, desperately. She is living in a very sad situation and needs me to reach out to her, because I am the only one who can. God has placed me here for a reason.
Who is around you that may need your help but may not be easy to love? Slow down enough for God to use you in situations you might not expect or might not be comfortable with. He will bless you for it.
wow. that is thick.
“Wow” is all that comes to my mind as well.
I say all the time that my mission field is in my own backyard. Sounds like this is literal for you, huh? I’m telling you God really knows how to stretch us. Praying God’s wisdom for you.