Andy and I just wanted to share as an encouragement our story about how we have been intentional in loving our neighbors around us. We have lived in our house for 11 years now so have had a good amount of time to invest and go deep in relationships.
As we’ve gotten to know our neighbors and spend time with them, we’ve come to realize that we can’t out-nice our neighbors. We have people who aren’t believers living around us who are more compassionate than we are, more selfless than we are, and in a lot of areas nicer than we are. And we don’t really know the answer of how to show them Jesus other than just living it. All we know to do is just to follow Jesus wholeheartedly and then ask Him how to love the people around us and hope that His love is represented well through us.
It’s been a process as we figure out the best way to love our neighbors and friends in the way Jesus would love them. And although we still have many ways that we are still learning, we have learned a few practical things that we can share.
Dinner: We make it a habit as best we can to be intentional about inviting our neighbors over for dinner. And even though it’s something that we like doing and is natural for us, we still have to be intentional about it or it never happens. We also are intentional about going out with our neighbors. I (Sarah) will go to see movies with some of the girls and Andy will do the same or go to lunch or dinner.
Keeping our lives simple: We have made it a point to keep our lives simple so that we can be home more and outside in our front yard. We had our kids in a few activities but decided to take them out because we were gone all of the time. Now we are definitely not against having activities, but for us personally it was something that we decided to let go of so that we could love our neighbors even more.
School: This year we moved our kids to the school our neighborhood is zoned for. We had previously had them transferred for the last 5 years. But we were not able to develop deep relationships with the people in the school they were transferred to because there was a lot of commuting involved to make that happen. So we moved them to be closer in order to keep our lives more simple and to be able to be more involved in the people’s lives that live around us.
I think one of the key ingredients in outreach is intentionality. We have to be intentional or we will just get wrapped up in our daily routines. And we also have to trust God that when we say yes and step out that it won’t be too much for us. He knows what our limits are and as long as we keep turning to Him for the answers it will be good. Not necessarily always easy, but good.