I was having one of my “Why here?” mornings, when I am fed up with suburbia and longing to be in ministry elsewhere—a small town, inner city, overseas…
Without examination, this built, and I saw everything around me with a snarky eye. It came to a head at a four-way stop not far from our house. “Get a move on,” I inwardly muttered at the man across the intersection who had clearly arrived before me and yet still hadn’t moved. FINALLY he turned, and I saw through the car’s side window that the driver was a neighbor who lives across the street and a couple doors down from my family. His wife died only a few months ago.
My anger dropped and I received a moment of empathy, a tiny bit of his sorrow knocking off my cynicism and settling in my heart. I followed his car up the hill and then watched as he turned into our local cemetery.
That broke me, and I cried out, “I’m so sorry, Lord. So sorry.”
I don’t know completely.
But we ARE here.
And rather than ask Christ, like the Pharisee in Luke 10 did, “And who is my neighbor?”, I need to ask instead to be a neighbor, not only to those in the sex trade, to refugees and immigrants, to those without Christ in foreign countries, to the widow and orphan and oppressed BUT ALSO to the well-dressed, well-fed, well-educated suburbanites all around me.
I often pray Matthew 22:37-39 over my children:“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” And when I do, I don’t specify which neighbors they’re supposed to love. I leave that up to God.
I’m still learning to do the same for myself.