So, despite the fact that there's a new television show in the fall line-up called Stalker, I thought I'd talk about how it'd be fun to be your neighbor. I promise I'm not a crazy person and I won't be sifting through your trash at night or watching your television "with you" through the window in your kitchen. I just want to come sit on your porch with you sometimes and for you to run over for a cup of coffee in between dropping kids off at school and going to the grocery store. Basically, I want a friend who lives across the street.
Can we make this happen?
I know, I know. You love the neighborhood you're in and the kids are at a great school and your husband's close to work and you just finished re-doing the kitchen. BUT, think how great it would be to be NEXT DOOR to a friend.
I keep thinking about the challenge of creating for-real community that lives and breathes with consistent grace and familiarity and easiness and simplicity. I keep wondering how I can make that Acts 2 fellowship jump out of my Bible and into my life. And, honestly, even though I know it's a little far-fetched, my heart just wants people close by, like across the street. Is that so much to ask?
These days, our cars can carry us wherever the heck we want to go and so running over to Trader Joe's for that addictive jar of cookie butter and a couple bottles of their cheap-o wine is no big deal even thought it's 45 minutes away. Our church is 25 minutes from our house. I went to high school 50 minutes from the house I grew up in. And, I just got back from Target where I bought a $10 dollar rug and a pumpkin spice latte and it took me 30 minutes with traffic. Our automobiles make distance no big deal. But, it also means we buy houses far away from each other. Like across town. And, I'm wondering if maybe that's actually a negative by-product of the freedom our cars enable.
Maybe, instead, we should live next door to each other. Get all up in each others' lives. Raise our kids together and then see them have lifelong friendships and maybe even marry each other if we're really lucky. I'm starting to wonder if being able to travel so far so quickly only makes us more likely to keep our distance from each other.
So, here's what I'm thinking. I'm going to pray that God moves you or me into the other one's neighborhood. Are you re-thinking your assessment of my sanity right now? Does this prayer make you a teensy bit nervous? Did you just peek out your window to make sure I'm not standing outside?
But, seriously. I just had the thought today that God could do that. He could make it possible for friends to live in neighborhoods together. And He could also make it possible that the neighbors we have right now could become our friends. I'll be honest, though, and tell you that the middle-aged, single man across the street and I are not destined to be baking cookies together any time soon. But, still, there's a lot of possibility in the neighborhoods we're living in right now for real community.
So, I'm proposing that we start asking God for the community that we're longing for. Praying that the folks who already live across the street become real friends to us. Praying that God moves friends into our neighborhood or us into theirs somehow. Praying ourselves into that Acts 2 community that seems so out of reach right now.
I'm not advocating communes, I'm just thinking proximity could help us create the community we want. Proximity would make it possible to have those late evening conversations on the porch and unplanned, unscheduled quality time. And that spontaneous, unexpected time is usually when friendships go deep.
James 1:17 says that "[e]very good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."
God gives good gifts. Community is a good gift. Let's ask Him for it.
(While we're on the subject, there's a house on my street for sale. Pray about it.)