Thursday, February 17, 2011

Love Your Neighbor, Brain Dump Edition

I went to work today and there was a power outage. A suicidal squirrel had run straight into a transformer. It took me about .03 seconds to decide to hightail it out and here I am, at 9:37 am, wondering what to blog about.

A lot is swirling around in my head, but here goes:

We have 2 houses on our street that have just sold. I've been praying for weeks that we will be a blessing to the new people and they to us.

We have a great street and neighbors, so I've been bubbling over with excitement about the promise of welcoming these new families to it.

So what am I looking for? I'm looking for neighbors who will love and accept my kids just how they are. Who will get a kick out of them the way I do. Who will invite us over for Friday night pizza and a few beers.

I want to be needed, so if the whole family, parents included, were orphans, that would be fine. Of course in my shallowness, I must admit I want to be needed in the "Where's the grocery store? or "Let's hang out on my porch" kind of way, not in the walk with me through a major life crisis sort of way.

And, at its most basic, I want to be LIKED, a la Sally Field at the Oscars.

But the reality is, they may not need me, or WANT me, or even LIKE me.

Why is it that I want so much to be wanted and to have my kids be wanted (not by the law, mind you) too? Is it because I'm never really sure where I/we fit in? Is it because I sometimes wish I could rewind and put my kids in public school from day one so we'd be more "plugged into" our town? What if my desire to be needed is less about serving others and more about wanting to be popular? Hello? I'm 41, am I not past this YET?

I mean really, do I want the hard work of LOVING MY NEIGHBOR? Do I want to love my neighbor in the biblical sense-- okay not THAT biblical sense-- but in the way that God would want me to?

Because that's more about when the honeymoon wears off.

That's about picking up the bikes and toys that have been strewn over the cul de sac for the umpteenth time by kids, not your own, who treat your carport as their personal Walmart.

That's about dealing with the fact that your kids aren't going to mesh with all of the other kids, all of the time, and that that can be super-awkward when you are friends with the parents.

That's about bearing each other's burdens when a neighbor is crashing and burning.

That's about being real, not pretending that everything is perfect in your own home.

It can even be admitting to yourself and your neighbors that with sports and homework and the relentless Race to Nowhere you are often too fried or too lazy or too blah to initiate the pizza and beer on Friday thing because your flannels have been on since 4pm and you can barely be nice to the people in your own home and you want to pull the blinds down, way down, except you don't have blinds and it's all just too too much.

Sounds exhausting, doesn't it?

But like a brand new baby, new neighbors have that promise of perfection. Of being wrapped in cellophane with a big shiny bow. Of weekend trips and margaritas and best friends and prom dates and soul mates.

But when Jesus calls us to love our neighbors, he meant in the day to day, in the awkwardness, in the disputes, in the whose dog is crapping on my lawn, in the hurt feelings of kid fights, and the late night calls of "We're on our way to the ER, come now!"

And I don't really know how to do that. Because I'm selfish. And insecure. And petty. And I want things to be FUN! and EASY! and NOT INVOLVE SO MUCH POOP!

So my prayer is that I can be a blessing to these new families. Not for me, but for them. And to realize if they don't need me, that's okay too.


Ellen aka Ellie said...

Last night, I had a small panic attack when I was watching American Idol. Idol? Yep. Me, worn out from a day at work while working to get through and over an ear infection was panicky for the kids who had to find other singers willing to sing them for "group day." It was like finding a table to sit at in the lunchroom at middle school. I was right back there.

I love your prayer for your neighbors, it is perfectly thoughtful as was the struggle you went through to get to that point. But thoughtful and earnest too is your wish to be liked, for your kids to be appreciated for who they are. It sounds like you want and hope for what is best for you, your family and your neighbors. Perhaps they are all praying for the very same things?

My husband is starting a new career as a Realtor. His prayer is that he finds the right house for the people he works with/cares for. He is earnest in this prayer...

Kristina P. said...

I wish I lived in a neighborhood like yours. I know the woman who lives in the condo below me, and many of the people in our complex attend our church, but we aren't tightknit at all. It's really too bad.

Anonymous said...

This was lovely. As a family who lost some favorite neighbors who became good friends with our family, I can relate. The new people just weren't the same. I think it's just chemistry. The new people next to us are kind and generous and awfully nice, but we just don't connect with them the way we did with the other family. But I will cross my fingers that you will find a friend for yourself, or friends for your family in your new neighbors.


purejoy said...

neighbors. sigh. it's the one thing i totally suck at.
we lived in our first house for five years and didn't meet our next door neighbors or even know their dang name until the man keeled over in their front yard and died.
not even kidding.
we got to know our really old neighbors at our next house but were only there for 2 years. we still see some on occasion and i know them well enough to wave hello.
currently, we live in a neighborhood where most of the neighbors are old or foreign (not that there's anything wrong with either) and the ones on either side of us don't have living areas close to ours so we never see them. i don't even know the name of the dogs next door to us.
so yeah. i need to be a better neighbor. hope you get really awesome new ones. and nope… it's not bad wanting to be liked. i do too. but i find being good enough to be liked kinda exhausting.

the Hawks said...

I totally agree. I want the closeness but I struggle with the commitment!

Brooke said...

I have learned many a life lesson the hard way, I'm not exactly sure why that is, perhaps because my mom wasn't around to warn me about the downsides to childbirth, nursing, and neighbors.

After buying our first home a couple of years ago I remember feeling totally elated. I still like the house, though the whole maintenance thing is, well, blech. My point is that I had totally underestimated the importance of liking your neighbors and having them like you. I have decided that when we end up in our final home it is going to have to be on a compound of other homes inhabited by people of my choosing. That really is the only way to live.

kim jackson said...

you are utterly hilarious and honest, and how i love you! and you never have to be anything but yourself with me... :]

Christy said...

I love your honesty! And I SO wish you were my neighbor!

Gretchen said...

Wow, for not knowing what to blog about, you sure did an awesome job!

Love this, Anna. You have such a big heart. Loving people doesn't necessarily mean IN YOUR FACE, I"M YOUR BFF kind of love. You love them from your own comfortable place and it's genuine, it's sincere. You are praying for them... that may be exactly what they need.

Anonymous said...

Anna... just when I think I can't possibly want to be your friend any more than I already do...

As a frequent mover, and on behalf of your new neighbors just in case they are too busy unpacking to be appropriately or demonstratively grateful, I want to say THANK YOU for your neighbor pray!!
It is hard being the new guy on the block. And it is nice to be reminded... and be able to show my children that it is TRUE...'old' neighbors do love to meet 'new' neighbors. "Make new friends, but keeeep the ooold. One is silver and the other gold!"

BTW, I have a friend in Oh who is also a blogger. It turns out she follows you. How excited was I when I got to tell her that I actually KNOW you?! She is jealous that I've known you since high school :)
Enjoy your new friends, but please keep me even if I'm too far away for beer and pizza.

AndrewG said...

love your blog design!

AndrewG said...

love the blog! great design

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Anna - you are such a good person. You actually think about these things while other people just get annoyed with their neighbors and try to avoid them.

I'm a sort of neighbor...our neighborhoods are fairly close... You can call me with those ER alarms.

And by the way - I'm always blown away by how good looking your kids are. And now that J is getting older you can really see how gorgeous he's going to be as an adult. Who wouldn't fall in love with those two??

Li lia said...

Thanks for being real

Rebecca said...

I can totally understand how you feel. My neighbors are a big part of our comfort, our life, and our joy. Having people around you that you care about and care about you is such an incredible blessing.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you!

Jill said...

This post has me both smiling and on the verge of tears ... because it truly captures all I've been thinking about recently re: my current neighbors.

It's so hard. And I too wonder why I have these petty feelings ... wishing they liked me ... wishing they would offer to help me in any way, or even invite me over for coffee or wine.

And I try to remind myself that it's probably not me, it's just them ... (I'm selfish and clearly have way too big a head to think otherwise) ... and they're the ones who are missing out on my friendship.

In the end, all I can hope is that my new neighborhood rocks ... and that things just fall into place. Because it IS so important.

K A B L O O E Y said...

Wow. You just toss this stuff off? Another "you're putting truth into (eloquent) words" post. And you sound like the perfect neighbor to me -- just the right areas of concern (accept and love my kids, quirks and all) -- and you'd be someone I'd be delighted to see, even if we hadn't been doing the pizza and beers thing because we'd both been pulling down the imaginary window shades. Not all Lucy and Ethel, 24-7 gossip neighbors, but someone who always leaves you thinking "She's terrific! We should really hang out more often."