How to Love Thy Neighbor while Social Distancing
My dad always said, “No good deed goes, unpunished.” While I always thought this was very pessimistic, the older I get, the more truth I find. For example, two weeks ago, I noticed that my next-door neighbors (they are seniors) lawn was overgrown. I knew they didn’t keep it this way typically and found out later that their landscapers were not getting back to them. So, like any good neighbor, I hopped on my mower, drove it around the fence to their yard. (Which I estimate is about an acre and a half). The front yard sits up on a hill and is not a quick zip around. If I go too fast, it causes mud patches. So, with my headphones pumping out the tunes, I begin.
They both stood smiling at me, which made me feel embarrassed. I just wanted to get it done. With the front yard done and my son, 21-year-old Matthew, following with the weed wacker, I head to the back yard. Much flatter, but the grass is much higher, so I carefully take half the width per row to make clean non-chunky stripes. I made it through two-thirds of the yard when my neighbor comes out and waves me down to talk. I hesitantly turn the mower off. (we had been having intermittent problems with it starting) We have a SOCIALLY DISTANT chat, and then I go to start the mower, it won’t start. My husband and sons grab extension cords, battery charger- nothing. We put more gas in-nothing.
Mower gets Stuck for Three Days
Now my mower is stuck on their side of the fence, after three days of trying different ways to fix it, talking with our expert friends- nothing. My son tells me he got the name of a mower repair guy. Larry. Matt calls Larry, and for $250.00, he will come and pick it up and fix it. I said to my kid, where did you get this guy’s name? Turns he got the number off a handwritten sign. Now I’m wondering if I will ever see this mower again. During COVID, there are not a whole lot of options. So we (Mostly my son) pushes this cumbersome machine up out of the back yard to the front yard. We wait. We all wait for Larry.
The neighbors and us all at a social distance chit-chatting like we did before life got busy. Our kids grew up, and they now had grandchildren. Mostly it was the gentle, friendly wave from across the yard these days. (Our houses are pretty far apart)
Then Larry pulls up. He has a beautiful refurbished newly painted Chevy vintage truck, with an open gate trailer pulling behind. He has an unlit half cigar hanging from his mouth. (which I later found out he carved out of bamboo to keep him from smoking tobacco) He looks more nervous than us. He oozes honesty. I could tell he was a hard worker. He pulls away with our mower after telling us it would be a couple of days. (Thank God!- I think to myself. We need to mow OUR yard!!)
Larry Returns the Mower
As promised, Larry returns the mower, it looked and ran like new! The guys that serviced it from the local store every year, never returned it looking like this! My sons, Larry, and I talked for a while. ( Because we have time to do that now during COVID!) It turns out Larry is a Christian that has been through some stuff. He is a recovering addict, like my husband. He is a jack of all trades, and there is not much he can’t fix and won’t do.
The point? I believe there is truth to “No good deed goes unpunished!!” I also think we are naive to think it wouldn’t be that way when we decide to do something kind for someone that comes out of our hearts. God created us to Love Thy Neighbor. When we choose selfless over selfishness, giving of our time and energy, the evil one wants to steal our joy and make sure we never want to help anyone again! We lost a lot of time dealing with trying to fix our mower. We lost $250.00, and right now, my husband and I are out of work. BUT, what we gained was reconnecting with our neighbors and meeting our new neighbor Larry who I believed needed that money to feed his family right now. If we are willing, God will take any situation and turn it for good.
Now more than ever, we need to love our neighbors! All of them. How do we do that amid Social Distancing?
- Make a phone call!- Call those most important to you and share in a good quality old fashioned conversation—especially older relatives or neighbors in our lives. Think of all the singles in your life that don’t have anyone in their home or apartment. Listen to them. I mean, LISTEN. It will mean the world to them.
- Put a bag of groceries on your neighbor’s porch. Think canned goods, staples, or some yummy homemade cookies.
- Pick some flowers and make an arrangement to put on your friend’s porch.
- Write and letter and mail it. God Bless our postal workers! They are still out there. How fun for someone to get a letter right now unexpectedly instead of more junk mail!!
- Print out some kid’s Word Finds or coloring pictures and mail them to all the kids in your life. They are bored enough now that they will not only love getting something in the mail but will also want to do the puzzles.
- Offer to pick up groceries for neighbors, friends, relatives when going to get your own.
- Send an Amazon gift certificate to an out of town loved one.
- Send flowers.
- Face time or skype with those who are far, but truly mean the most to you.
- Tape a smiley face picture to a person’s door with a little note letting them know that you are thinking and praying for them and hope they are well!