Posted by: Eric and Heidi | June 8, 2015

Loving My Neighbors

This morning, we floated into church as if suspended by angel wings.  The children were bathed, fed, dressed in adorable outfits, with impeccable hairstyles.  I was looking none too shabby myself, all showered with my makeup on point and looking unusually stylish in dark skinny jeans, heels, and an (ironed!) blouse.  How are things going with Eric away?  “Oh, we’re great!  Things are good!” I cooed with confidence.  I’ve got this on lock.

My neighbors know better.  Yesterday we were all out tending to our lawns and they saw how things are really going.  Abbi used a half a bottle of spray conditioner during “nap” (quotation marks are intentional) and ran around the rest of the day looking like Severus Snape.  Lia peed through two outfits and by the end of the day was running through the neighborhood wearing only an inside-out tshirt, bare baby-butt on display for all to see.  And then there was me.  No shower.  No makeup.  No deodorant.  Messy ponytail.  Paint-stained tshirt.  And unbrushed teeth.  That’s right.  UN.BRUSHED.TEETH.  It’s safe to say that my personal hygiene was in the red yesterday.

So when I smiled and waved at my neighbors this morning, loading the girls in the car for church, they weren’t fooled by how put-together we looked.  And it made me think.  As you read through the New Testament, Jesus talks over and over about loving our neighbors.  We can certainly apply the word “neighbor” in a global perspective, but for me it’s more powerful if I take it literally.  What happens when I love my neighbors, the people whose homes surround mine?  Here’s the thing about my neighbors.  They see me at my very worst.  They see me when I’m tired. And cranky.  And the kids let the dogs out.  AGAIN.  They see me try to start the stupid lawn mower for an hour before realizing that it’s out of gas.  They see me covered in grass clippings, cranking on that mower with all I’ve got.  They see me checking the oil and futilely poking at parts before humbly asking to borrow a mower.  They hear how I respond when my kids demand snacks while I’m covered in grease and sweat during hour five of my grass-cutting debacle.  I can’t hide from my neighbors.  They see the real me.

And it gets me thinking.  Perhaps I love my neighbors best when I show my faults.  Maybe Jesus shines most clearly when I’ve dropped my shiny Heidi-mask. I didn’t do great yesterday.  I felt like a frustrated mess!  But maybe my neighbors saw me take a deep breath and try again.  Maybe they noticed that I did not swear a blue streak.  Maybe when the sweet little girl next door came over to play she noticed that Abbi’s mom greeted her with a smile and gave her a snack.  Maybe those small victories by a stinky, smelly, frustrated Heidi showed the light of Christ in a way that polished, pristine, public Heidi never could.  There is no replacement for being genuine.  If somehow, someway my neighbors saw Love in me when I was at my worst, they saw Jesus at His best.  Perhaps the way we love our neighbors reflects most clearly who we are at our core.

It makes me really glad that I did NOT, in fact, set my stupid lawnmower ablaze on the front lawn.  I call it a win.


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