Not All My Neighbors Like Me

{This is the ninth of twelve in a guest blog series I am hosting through March. The series will zero in on a variety of themes from my book, Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert's Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor. The writers of these posts are people I deeply admire for their wisdom and their constant seeking of Christ’s Kingdom on behalf of their neighbors both near and far. This particular post was written by Amy Lively, an extrovert through and through. I "met" Amy when I was searching for authors to write endorsements for Here Goes Nothing. Amy was crazy enough to list a phone number on her website, and then actually answer the phone when I called! Does that scream "extrovert" or what?! I have often been asked by other extroverts, "So, how are we supposed to interact with you introverts?" And Amy has a lot of wonderful things to say on that topic today. Do you have an introvert in your life that you are not sure exactly how to love or get to know? Then this is a must read!}

{This is the ninth of twelve in a guest blog series I am hosting through March. The series will zero in on a variety of themes from my book, Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert's Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor. The writers of these posts are people I deeply admire for their wisdom and their constant seeking of Christ’s Kingdom on behalf of their neighbors both near and far.

This particular post was written by Amy Lively, an extrovert through and through. I "met" Amy when I was searching for authors to write endorsements for Here Goes Nothing. Amy was crazy enough to list a phone number on her website, and then actually answer the phone when I called! Does that scream "extrovert" or what?!

I have often been asked by other extroverts, "So, how are we supposed to interact with you introverts?" And Amy has a lot of wonderful things to say on that topic today. Do you have an introvert in your life that you are not sure exactly how to love or get to know? Then this is a must read!}

I’m an extrovert, OK? My idea of relaxation includes small talk and a laugh track. When I’ve got a few minutes to myself, I pick up the phone and call a friend. My TV is always on in the background. Parenting a toddler around nap schedules almost killed me, until I discovered story time at the library; my favorite part of elementary school was hanging out with other moms on the playground. My neighbors just never know when I’m going to knock on their door.

They say opposites attract.

So it’s no surprise that my husband of 26 years is as introverted as I am extroverted. Maybe even a little bit more. Maybe even as much as Kendra!

I was attracted to his seriousness and depth, his loyalty and commitment, and the way he gently suggests I clear my calendar so we can watch 78 episodes of Friday Night Lights together. He rushed me out of church on Sunday, but he’s deeply connected with the group that met in our home on Wednesday and his men’s group on Thursday.

My introvert has taught me a lot about neighboring.

He’s notices when Mr. Moore’s wood burner has been smokeless for a few days (oh, he’s visiting his daughter) and how many days it’s been since Jack’s car screeched out in the middle of the night. While I might make a dozen casual acquaintances, he makes a handful of good friends. He’s slow to speak but quick to help.

Loving my introverted husband has taught me how to love my introverted neighbors. When meeting a new neighbor, I have to be careful to not come on too strong. I try to read their subtle body language and verbal cues, and not take offense when someone doesn’t react with the same enthusiasm I bring to the table. I need to know what’s happening inside an introvert’s head when I say “open house” or “party”.

Instead of forcing my way into my neighbors living rooms and daily lives, I need to “become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some”… and at the same time, accept that I’m not God’s gift to every single home in my neighborhood.

“I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22b NIV

Not all my neighbors like me, and I’m ok with that. We’re not all going to be best buds. By the way, that’s why every single one of us is commanded to love our neighbor. You can love the ones who don’t love me! 

I try to follow the instructions Jesus gave his disciples when He sent them into their neighborhoods. You can read all about it in Matthew 10—

“When you knock on a door, be courteous in your greeting.” verse 12

Knock. Smile. Speak. It’s that simple! Not much has changed from Jesus’ Israeli neighborhoods to wherever you live today. Do you think Jesus foresaw me, little ol’ me, knocking on my neighbor’s door when He gave this instruction? Did He picture each door in your neighborhood? Did He know the exact moment you would raise your hand to knock, and prepare the hearts inside to receive your greeting?

“If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation.” verse 13

I’m usually so wrapped up in my own anxiety when I knock on a neighbor’s door that I forget this is all about them. Pay attention to how long it takes them to answer the door. They may be busy, sleeping, working, or in the middle of their favorite movie. Pay attention to their body language and the words they say—and what goes unsaid. Be considerate, gentle, and kind. If they are open to you, be open to them.

“If they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.” verse 14

Trust me, you will know if your neighbor is not interested in making your acquaintance. They may barely crack open the screen door; they may not open the door at all, even if you can see them inside. They may be as nervous about answering the door as you were about knocking! I don’t like to answer my phone if the caller ID doesn’t tell me who it is, let alone answer my door when a stranger knocks. Be sensitive to your neighbor’s reaction. If she takes a step back, you take a step back. Mirror her reaction. Don’t be weird by being pushy.

“You can be sure that on Judgment Day they’ll be mighty sorry—but it’s no concern of yours now.” verse 15

You know what? This is a big deal, with big consequences. Your first or second or twenty-third conversation with a neighbor could lead to a friendship. That friendship could lead to the opportunity to share what Jesus Christ has done for you. However, their reaction is not your responsibility. Jesus will handle eternity; you just think about today.

{from How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird, Chapter 8, “Say What?”}

I’ve noticed that opposites attract in my friendships, too. I need my introverts. It’s taken me years to respect and admire our differences without labeling someone as “weird” or “wrong”. They make me think deep thoughts, and I make them leave the house occasionally. Together, we just might be God’s plan to save the world, one neighborhood at a time.

 

Grace and Peace,

Amy

{Bio: Amy Lively is the author of How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird and the creator of The Neighborhood Café, an international ministry helping women share coffee, conversation and Christ with their neighbors in their homes. She is a popular speaker who loves sharing tips and tools about Christ’s command to love our neighbor. Amy lives in Buena Vista, Colorado with her husband, a holy dog and unsaintly cat while their daughter attends college.}

{Bio: Amy Lively is the author of How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird and the creator of The Neighborhood Café, an international ministry helping women share coffee, conversation and Christ with their neighbors in their homes. She is a popular speaker who loves sharing tips and tools about Christ’s command to love our neighbor. Amy lives in Buena Vista, Colorado with her husband, a holy dog and unsaintly cat while their daughter attends college.}