Saturday, September 20, 2014

Loving Your "New" Neighbor: It's more important than you think

This is a continuation of a series on the ABC's of Growing Closer to God. For the letter L, here is my friend Sarah Beckman to share from her blog, Seasonings With Sarah. Thanks Sarah!

Just about 2 years ago, our family made the decision to leave our home in Minnesota and move to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  It has been quite a ride for us as we live out our affectionately termed: “Domestic, Overseas Assignment!”
Life and climate are very different here.  Most days we love the moderate temps and constant sunshine, (the Midwest hasn’t seen the sun much since last Fall!)  Other days we long to exchange the dry, brown, dust-filled topography for the green pastures of the Midwest…and the waters that make them so. Yet, even when we curse the excruciatingly high winds and piles of tumbleweeds they leave in their wake, we are thankful it’s not snow!
We have also adjusted to the Land of “Manana” (tomorrow), which is so vastly different than the pace of Minneapolis.
Things are just different; and that’s okay.
We value the amazing people we’ve met and experiences each day brings.  Our family is blooming where we’re planted, growing both individually and collectively.  But that hasn’t happened without some trials.
If you’ve ever moved, you can relate.  There are just certain struggles that go with the territory.
Feeling lonely because you don’t know anyone is just the tip of the iceberg – but it raises an important point.
There is something we can all do to become people who love our neighbors, especially the newcomers in our churches, neighborhoods, schools, teams, committees, workplaces or wherever we find ourselves on a daily basis.
Instead of keeping our eyes down and living within our comfort zone, what if we looked up and noticed those around us who are struggling with the feelings of uncertainty, inadequacy, unfamiliarity, and stress that come with being the New Guy?
There is immense opportunity to be a source of light and encouragement to these folks, and it’s critical that we recognize it as a Biblical way of life!
Here are a few meaningful ways to become “Love Your Neighbor People”:
1.  Keep a watchful eye!
Every day we experience new people in our life, but often we are too busy to notice their circumstance.  No matter where we are, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves.  If you’ve moved, you probably reach out to others more naturally, because you know what it’s like.  But if you’re the person who has “stayed” in roughly the same place for any length of time, you know we can be guilty of neglecting those who are experiencing the trial of new situations.
2. Invite that new neighbor over! 
After we moved to ABQ, there were many weekend nights our family made up fun activities to play together in the backyard to pass the time.  This was great for us as a family, don’t get me wrong!  But after living in the same community for 12 years and having multitudes of friends and invitations, when we sat home on the weekends it became painfully obvious that we didn’t have any friends yet.  It was almost 5 months before we had our first invitation to someone’s house, and no surprise, it was from someone who had moved a great deal themselves.
3.  Bring food!

I love to love my neighbor with food –  because it works!  Bringing a meal, baked goods, or a special item you make is one of the easiest low-stress, methods for meeting someone and making them feel welcome.  If you’ve ever been on the receiving end, you know.  I have several awesome recipes on my website for you to use if you don’t have any of your own.  And don’t be afraid to knock on that door…just think about how you’d feel if someone wanted to bless you with food.
 Have you ever had an experience where you were the “outsider”?   Did anyone reach out to you during that time and how? 

Sarah Beckman is a Speaker, Writer and Communications Coach. Founder of Salt and clay ministries, Sarah speaks to audiences across the country at Women’s Retreats, MOPS groups, Marriage Seminars, Teen and Senior Events. Her topics include: loving your neighbor, sharing your faith, safeguarding your marriage and digging up your talents.

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