By Dana Bailey
So many times in our life we have acquaintances and that is all they ever are…just people you know of, but not about. We watch others around us; how they live, how their children behave, how they react to others, but give little mind to who is watching us.
I became very aware of this recently when we moved away from a neighborhood we had lived in for more than 5 years. Word spread quickly on our street that we were moving and our family began to hear from others who had observed our family without us realizing it. It is quite scary to think about now.
I think I was a horrible neighbor. I didn’t know much more than my next door neighbors name. She was a very private person and I tried very hard to not invade her privacy. I didn’t even know the names of the people who were 2 doors up and the family across the street-we just waved each other. Many of my children, on the other hand, knew more than names, they knew about our neighbors. They knew where they went to church, how many times they had been married, how long they lived there, how often they wanted their grass cut and anything else they thought to ask. My kids were great neighbors. Our son’s cut the grass for many, our daughter babysat for several of the families, our younger sons would help out however they could.
The week we were moving, our family was quite touched by the comments we heard from our neighbors. Some actually came to our house to talk to us. People had observed our family in ways we didn’t realize and they were actually impacted in a positive way.
One mother had decided to homeschool her children after getting to know our kids. Her child had struggled for years in school but didn’t know anyone one else who had successfully homeschooled their children until she met my kids. I guess my kids impressed her.
Another lady expressed deep concern for the kids on our street because she knew that our house was a safe place for the other kids to play and knew that our house, even though we already had a houseful, often had many neighborhood kids inside or in the back yard.
Remember the neighbor next door that was very private? The night before we moved she came over and talked to us more than she ever had before. She was sad we were going because she felt safe with us next door. Our boys fixed her fence & trimmed her hedges. She knew she could come over anytime she needed anything (and she did once). She is a single lady with no family close by & appreciated having such a “great family” living next door. She blew me away! I didn’t think she liked us. You just never know!
Scripture speaks of living in a way that is pleasing to the Lord and there are several reasons for that.
- It pleases the Lord! Our lives are to be lived for Him anyway. We were created to know and glorify Him.
- Our children notice. Do you want to teach your children how to be loving towards others? Let them observe you being that way. On several occasions my children saw me interacting with our neighbors, chatting or just listening to them. They learn from us. I don’t really like my kids observing me, but that is just how it works.
- Others notice. One neighbor noticed that every Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. we all left together and asked one of our kids where we went. My son explained that we went to church and what we all did there. That prompted a visit from the man’s wife asking about our church which opened an opportunity for me to talk to her about the Lord. You just never know!
Because we are a big family (and getting bigger) I know that others watch our family. I don’t always like it, but there is nothing I can do about it except live my life in a way that pleases the Lord. In the end, what other think doesn’t matter to me, but what my Lord thinks does matter.
We are now in the “Christmas Season”. This is a great time, as a family, to spend time together focusing on how we can live our lives in a way that is pleasing and glorifying to our Lord Jesus. One thing our family likes to do is work our way slowly through the Christmas story in Luke, spending a lot of time on the prophecies in the Old Testament and comparing them with what actually happened in the New Testament. We do a more focused study on the life of Jesus and come to a new understanding of how he wants us to treat others.
A few proactive things we do. We really like taking goody baskets full of baked goodies decorated with Scripture verses. Something new we might try is “RACKing”. RACK is “Random ACts of Kindness”. We thought it would be fun to pay for someone’s food in the drive-thru line behind us or help an older person out with their groceries. My kids came up with all kinds of fun ideas. I bet your kids could too.
You just never know who is watching, but know that the Lord is always watching and that is really the only one who truly matters. I have to admit, it was really fun and very touching to find out that our neighbors really did like us and have been positively impacted by our family. Not everyone would like a family of 12 to move in next door.
I hope that in the coming weeks you are not only aware of the eyes of your Lord on your life, but also of the eyes of others on you and I hope that your eyes will be on the Lord seeking to please Him in all you do and say.
Ephesians 4:32,5:1, 15-16 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God therefore, as dearly loved children. Be very careful, then, how you livenot as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity,because the days are evil.”