Love your neighbor as yourself
I have been wanting to write this for about 3 months, but I have let a lot of other things get in the way! I could make excuses because a lot did happen and I had a lot of company in and out of my home, but the truth is I have managed to keep up on all my Real Housewives shows so obviously I just did not prioritize writing!
However, it’s a new day and instead of getting down on myself for all I could have done I’m just going to take action and get things done! Starting with writing this post about my next door neighbor, Rachel. I did not ask Rachel if I could write about her and use her name, but she will forgive me… I’m 99.9% sure of it!
The truth is, one of the reasons I have delayed writing this is because in order to tell the whole story I have to go back to a time when I wasn’t doing so great and I don’t really like revisiting that time in my life, but I think this is important to share so I’m going to take a brief moment to journey back to summer 2016 when I was still knee deep in depression and anxiety and tell you how one person’s actions helped pull me out of a dark pit and lead me back to joyously living my life!
One day I will write the story of little j’s birth and how it simultaneously helped me love harder and feel the greatest joy I ever have, but also the circumstances caused me to sink into a deep depression followed by crippling anxiety. I did my best to hide it and unfortunately I think I succeeded for the most part. There were so many people who would have been more than willing to help me if I had just expressed that I needed help, but I didn’t (I have since learned from that!) and it caused me to live in the dark for a very long time.
During this dark time little j never slept…I mean never. So on top of all I was experiencing I was completely exhausted as well. The only way I could get her to nap was to drive her around in the car. So every day I grabbed a book and drove the 5 miles down to Lake Thunderbird (hoping she would fall asleep on the drive) and parked at a trail head and stayed there until she woke up. It was a lonely exhausting routine, but she needed sleep so I did what I had to do.
On one of these days late spring/ early summer 2016 I got a text from Rachel asking if I wanted to go for a walk. She brought me food after little j was born so I had her number, but we hadn’t had much interaction before then. We spoke outside when we saw each other, but truthfully I didn’t leave the house much for the first year after little j was born. At first it was because of the oxygen, then it was flu season and after that I honestly just didn’t know where to go or what to do so most days we stayed inside.
Knowing that it would take me 10-15 minutes to get back I figured she would just go ahead and go for her walk and for the most part I didn’t really want to go anyway. I had gotten really great at giving excuses for not showing up places and I was tempted to just fall back into that same habit. But somewhere deep inside the real me was screaming up through the darkness, begging depressed me to just give it a try and see if maybe she would wait for me to drive back so I could have some adult interaction and maybe make a friend. I sent her a text explaining where I was and that it would take a while for me to get back and to my surprise she said she would wait. I was so excited at the idea of just being normal and walking and talking so I drove back long before the nap should be over and we went for a walk. It was the start of what is now a great friendship and someone I couldn’t do day to day life without.
Let me emphasize something about this event that is so so important. Rachel reached out. Rachel made an effort. She herself had every excuse to not see if I wanted to go on a walk, but she was being obedient and loving her neighbor as herself and I truly cannot express the difference it has made in my life. At that particular time she was around 8 months pregnant and her son was only about 2 1/2 so she wasn’t exactly getting a lot of rest herself. She could have told herself, “well I’ll reach out after my baby is born” or “I’m sure I’ll get to know her eventually as time goes on” but she didn’t. She made an effort and in that one moment she began a healing process in me and I will never ever forget it.
We now have a friendship that is more like family. Our kids are little best friends who freely walk in and out of each others houses and yards, we have meals together, we watch the other’s kids when things come up, we miss each other when we go on vacations, we got on trips together (and she remained my friend after I ran out of gas and stranded us in a median on I35) we are in each others lives in a day to day way and it feels complete and the way God intended for us to live.
Too often we are so quick to find excuses when something arises that might pull us out of our comfort zone. How many amazing people are we missing when we do this? How many lives could we change by making an effort?
Changing a life is as simple as loving someone the way you would want to be loved. Easy as that. So this week make an effort to knock on someone’s door and bring them cookies, offer to bring dinner to someone who is overwhelmed, smile at people as you walk down the street. Get out of your comfort zone and make a difference.
You never know, you may have your own Rachel living next door and I can tell you first hand she’s worth baking cookies for!