In the last week, I’ve had a few visits with my neighbor.  Since I’m going to tell you about her, I won’t tell you where she lives.   J.  is a delightful person.  She moved in about 15 years ago. Moving half way across the country with six of her eight children after a failed marriage with no local relatives was no small feat.  She is at least gutsy.  A trait I’ve always admired in women! 

During those years, we rarely saw each other longer than just to say “Hi” or “Bye” in passing on our way to or from work.  At the time, her house was teeming with teens all the way down to elementary aged children…and oh yes, a dog.  Mine was almost empty.  Sadly, I was always “too busy” to go out of my way to be a good neighbor.  I usually learned about her life after the fact.  We sometimes bumped into each other at neighborhood garage sales when we would chat a bit and I would determine to get to know her better.  It rarely happened.

Recently, her last child finished college.  Yes, they all went through college.  Many completed graduate school as well.  It required many long hours of work for her in what I consider to be an interesting job but one that was quite demanding in light of the size of her family and that she was alone to deal with all their problems.  I learned a few years ago, for example that her father came to live with her when he became older and debilitated.  Soon he was at the point where he was dying and she was the one taking care of him…and oh yes,  WORKING full-time.  I had no idea this was happening of course.  I, her neighbor was totally and completely clueless! (Part of the time I was out-of-town, but still…)

In the paradigm of my youth, I would have been beating myself up because I didn’t spend enough time “witnessing” to her.  I do regret that,  even though I know she attends a good church and could well be a believer.  When we chatted last week and she spoke of the difficulties she was facing when she moved here, I realized that I had no idea at the time.  I was TOO BUSY! 

 Even more, I realized, that I was the one who missed out!  I missed out on the joy of ministry to another person…outside my comfort zone.  I missed out on a great friendship.  Here is a woman who is as down-to-earth as you will ever find.  She is a hard-working person who is very intelligent with a great sense of humor (developed by years of raising children no doubt!)  She loves to read.  Her house is teeming with books.  (My kind of person!)  She has still found time in the middle of a busy career, family, and demands of life to go on a mission trip as well as minister to the needy locally (in her job).  This is a woman of about my age that would have been a delightful friend.  Despite my efforts to slow down my life, I was too busy to minister to a person very near to me…my neighbor.

13For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” … 16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.   Galatians 5:13-16


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joan Harding
    Jun 03, 2010 @ 03:15:04

    Very thought provoking, Martha. Isn’t that the way it seems to be? We seem to be so busy that we often times miss a huge ministry opportunity, friendship, blessing. I pray that now the “doors” have been open, you and she may become special friends at this time. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Dawn
    Jun 03, 2010 @ 05:43:46

    I think it’s a constant struggle to keep from getting too busy with things of life that I don’t have time or room for new people.

  3. kathy
    Jun 04, 2010 @ 18:49:16

    Maybe it’s not a ministry opportunity for “them” as much as some kind of opportunity for “us”.

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