I’m an extrovert. So that means I love people, right? I’m not sure who decided that but it is a gross exaggeration. Extroverts need time to themselves without 7 kids destroying your house. Extroverts need to sit and read or watch movies without anyone sharing their struggles with you. Extroverts need peace. Parties get old. Extroverts need sleep too, people.
It may surprise you when I say being outwardly focused on our neighborhood is hard. Loving people is hard. Our house is an embassy in our neighborhood. You need to escape something? Come to our house. You need a snack? C’mon over. You need safety? Saddle up partner. This designation as a house of peace did not come through our extrovert-id-ness, though. Actually it came from intentionality and response to the love of Christ. It came from our willingness to be awkward and annoying for the sake of love. We’ve run out to meet the new neighbor getting the mail. We’ve gone over when we needed vanilla for a cake. We’ve invited peeps to parties, BBQ’s, trick or treating, super bowls and walks around the neighborhood. I’ve had neighbors mock me to my face. We actually once sent a letter to a neighbor entitled: “Awkward letter to our neighbor.”
There are a five things you need to know about being a house of peace:
1. Sometimes there is no respite from your house and you have to just say:
“no, the house is closed.”
Other times you may just be tired and need to suck it up and love people like Christ loves them, despite having had a rough day with the kids or a poopy day at work.
2. No matter how extroverted or introverted you are, you will have to rely on the love of the Holy Spirit to reach out well to those around you. Every believer needs to do it and nobody is fully equipped for it.
3. The more you reach out to your neighbors; the more you may find yourself loving them with all your heart. We have four families we pray and care much for. We also have two widows nearby who we dearly love. Finally there are six girls and two boys in our area that I absolutely love like family and would give my right arm for. We chose to love them, but found out quickly they were easily loveable.
4. The more you reach out to your neighbors, the more you may find they can help and love you well. When we began fixing up our house to sell it our neighbors stepped in. They have helped watch our kids, fixed our electrical wiring, become my running partner, loaned us movies, taught me how to drywall, let us come over when our house smelled like toxic paint and most of all lifted our spirits in true friendship.
5. If you have children, they will watch the way you love others. Also others will see the way you love your children. Do not forsake either one.
The reaching out part may be hard at first, but dang if it isn’t worth it. We get to share the love of Christ with those who surround us at work, school and in our communities. We can choose to never get to know them or we can allow love and familiarity to break down walls.
Our house in Kansas is under contract. In less than two months we are moving back home to San Diego where we hope to afford a humble home and I cannot wait to write my first “Awkward letter from your neighbor.” I can’t wait, not because it’s easy, but because I know it will be worth the effort.