It has been about ten months since we made the trek from the Canadian East Coast to the Midwest. And it was right about then that we “settled” into a new neighborhood. Being here has taught me some things about being a good neighbor. But the time has come to uproot again. It is time for moving neighborhoods. Thankfully, this time, our move is only 3 miles down the road.
Over the last 5 days since we closed on our new home, I have made that trek dozens of times, each time aware that we are picking up and planting again. We are replacing “temporary” with “permanent”. Or, at least the kind of permanent that is possible in ministry–this will be our twelfth home in twenty years. We are so looking forward to settling in our own place.
There is disarray right now in both homes. Boxes and paper everywhere! But as I drive under the canopy of trees that has become my favorite route to our new place, I’m reminded we are covered by the love of the Lord. The stresses that can accompany the packing and unpacking, the loading and unloading, quickly dissipate. As I pass the community pool, I’m aware there are so many families here we don’t know. As I see my current neighbors in their yards, I’m reminded of their warm welcome and the community they have with each other, and this inspires me to build community in my new neighborhood.
And, it doesn’t go without saying that, each time I pull into our new driveway, I’m profoundly aware of the provisions of our good Father.
It seems appropriate that at our church we soon move in to a series on The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door. The Lord’s timing never fails to amaze me. We best express genuine love in driveways, on front porches, and around dinner tables
So, Joy Let Loose may seem a bit quiet for a little while as we are moving neighborhoods. But I pray God’s joy will let loose through our family.
We drove 26 hours to arrive at our new home. (That didn’t necessarily inspire me to share joy.) The twenty-six hours from Atlantic Canada to the Midwest were punctuated with traffic, laughter, phone calls about school enrollment, tears about leaving our sweet dog behind, pit stops, and the occasional complaint about broken air conditioning in August. It was trip to remember. The day we arrived with all of our belongings was the first day we actually saw our new home not on a screen. The close proximity of the adjacent houses made it clear we were going to get to make some new acquaintances, or even friends.
I wasn’t sure I wanted that.
My heart simultaneously mourned the loss of friends in our former town(s) and cowered within with a case of magnified introversion at the thought of the process of meeting another whole new community of people. Ministry and moving can take a toll. I reasoned to myself that this was merely a one-year lease, a stopping place on the way to our real new home. I was not thinking about how to share joy.
But within just a few hours of our arrival, we had already met folks on either side and across the street, learned about our neighborhood’s love of driveway parties, and received a plate of yummy cookies with water bottles to keep us going as we unloaded the truck. This resistant and displaced heart was soothed by welcome. That our neighbors would choose to walk the few feet it actually took to bridge the miles I felt between us spoke loudly to me.
You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes. A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
I’ll be honest: sometimes I find it really hard to take those few steps. I often need a whole lot of mental prep to walk into new places with new people. Each person is different in that respect, and that’s part of my different. Sometimes I wonder why God calls introverts into ministry. It’s crazy to me how often it seems I’m thrust into life situations so challenging to that part of my nature. Continue reading “Share Joy With Your Neighborhood: Be a Better Neighbor”