What a great night. Tonight, Crystal and I achieved one of our big goals associated with moving into our new house: we had a neighborhood get-together where we invited everyone on our street over for dinner and socializing. We handed out 40 invitations and while only 6 families took us up on it, we had a fabulous time with those who did, so thank you to everyone who turned out!
When we moved out of our last house in Gladstone, we realized that there were people that we had shared a property line with for over 10 years that we had never met. There’s no other way to say it other than we felt that this was pretty much unacceptable and that we had dropped the ball. It’s really too bad that it took us moving away to make us realize this. As we packed up the moving truck, we vowed that this would not be happening again, especially given that we plan to stay in this current house until we’re too old to get up the stairs. For us, tonight was the final sign that we had officially “moved in.” The house is no longer under (exterior) construction, most of the pictures are hung, the main floor has been painted and we have had a couple of groups of people over, but these were our previous friends just coming over to our house like they always have. This evening we met a bunch of new friends. No one in attendance had we known longer than three months and several, we met just tonight. It was awesome!
It has been noted that many Americans today are voluntarily insulated from each other. They get home, park their car in the garage, close the garage door behind them and step into their lives already in progress without seeing another soul. We happen to now live in a neighborhood where it is not uncommon for the grass mowing and basic landscaping to be hired out. Now, I don’t begrudge someone from having their lawn mowed for them, but for this discussion, it it noted that it further cuts into time spent outside where other neighbors can see and interact with them.
Community is very important. Humans are by nature social beings and by and large, we like to interact with each other. One of the reasons that coffee shops in particular have always flourished is that they provide people with a place for community to happen. Churches are now beginning to renovate and either retrofit a coffee shop into their existing space or include them into their new plans like crazy. Why? Because community happens around coffee shops, the same way it does around food. While I no longer have a La Marzocco espresso machine in my home *sniff*, we were able to feed everyone some killer basalmic glazed pork loin and, as my Southern Belle Grandmother likes to call it, “visit awhile.” No agenda, just an in depth meet-and-greet.
Our main goal goes a step further than just knowing our neighbors. Hopefully, tonight was the beginning of our investment into the lives of the people we met. We very much want to not only know the names and faces of those who live on our street, but we want to know about them, knowing what matters and why. As time passes, we want to share in their victories and help them get back up when life hands them a defeat. Proverbs 18:24 states that “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
You don’t get to see the fulfillment of that promise by holing yourself up inside your house all the time and daring the daylight to come through your tightly drawn blinds. Sure, that might mean that someone might occasionally see you with your curlers in or wearing those sweatpants that only you like, but hey, give it time. Eventually you’ll catch them the same way so it’s all good. ”But, then they could find out that my family and I aren’t picture perfect!” Well, at least in all the people I have ever found, you’re not so what are you hiding? The cordial wave to the other guy going out to his mailbox should not be the extent of your relationship with a neighbor. People get the fake facade all the time from others (or, as we like to call it in churchworld: the Sunday Face) as they move throughout their day; around your home should be the one place that you can let your guard down a bit. It’s pretty refreshing to have someone ask you “How ya doin’?” because they actually care and are not asking some throw away question just to be polite.
What we found tonight were people who had needs that we knew we could eventually at least attempt to fill. One young couple attends church somewhat far away and they don’t really have a support network around them to help them with the day to day stuff of raising their young daughter who is about Isaac’s age. We can do that. Another lady and her daughter had a husband/father whose work had assigned him to a different state, so he was going to be gone for an extended period. Missing your man? C’mon over, Crystal always needs help droolling over that Maks guy from Dancing With the Stars! Across the street from that family was another family whose husband/father is a pilot and is also gone on overnights a bit. Yep, you can come, too! And baby-sitters. WOW! We will never have the need to drive the baby-sitter home again. Ever.
To be sure, everyone was doing just fine long before we arrived, but I know from our own experience that it’s always nice to have another outlet to fill a quiet night or another couch to plop down on if you need to work something out via an outside opinion. Sometimes, you NEED time away from everyone for a season, but other times it’s great to be able to reach into your local community without having to even start up your car.
So what are you doing next weekend? Invite some people you don’t know over! Get all crazy and invite someone that lives on your street more than three houses away from you! Invest in other people. In my humble opinion, that’s where the greatest dividends in life are paid out.