It started with a goodbye.
On July 20th, Steve and Melissa, along with their kids, hugged us goodbye. They took off on a new adventure to Florida, and we stayed in Spring Hill, Tennessee. As their car drove out of sight, I knew what I wanted to do.
I chose my tennis shoes instead of my sandals. My husband, Nathan, knows what that means. Sandals are for short, slow walks. Tennis shoes are for longer, more serious walks. I double-knotted the laces and walked out the door.
One of my favorite authors, Shannan, loves her neighborhood and often writes using the hashtag #heyletswalktoschool. I’m sure her devotion to her place has something to do with the miles she puts on her shoes as she walks in her neighborhood.
This is was on my mind, as I made a left turn by the yellow house on the corner. Two rottweilers bravely challenged me from their side of the fence, as I passed by. At least I assumed they were a ferocious, aggressive breed. Our suburban neighborhood fences could be hiding anything. Maybe it was a beagle with a deep voice?
On that day, at that moment, I wanted to break up with my town.
I looked at houses and mailboxes and prayed.
I asked that God would bring good friends to our neighborhood. I want to tell you that I prayed for the “right people” to move to our street, but what I really wanted was something very specific– good friends for all of us and who take a blood oath to stay.
Strike that. I wanted our old friends back, but the packing pod in their driveway told me that wasn’t going to happen.
Summer cicadas were singing. Their noisy song joined the sound of construction on the main road near our neighborhood. It smelled like crape myrtle. My feet kept moving as I prayed and wondered about why we were here in this very neighborhood, in this town. I’ve always been a firm believer that God wants to use us where we live, but I’m afraid that planting roots and committing to a place will cost me something.
I know it will.
I had forgotten about the cost until it was time to pay it.
I was feeling that cost as I completed my neighborhood loop. I walked by the empty house, came home and sobbed in the bathroom. Caring for people brings risk. An invitation to close friendship is an invitation to the possibility of a broken heart.
In the middle of my prayers of, “What do you want me to do with all of this, God?”, my heart heard an answer.
Keep loving and serving right where you are. Keep investing in people — even the ones who might move next year.
That evening, when it came time to pray for our kids and tuck them into bed, I opened my mouth to pray over them. “Dear Lord. . .” I barely choked out the words before being too overwhelmed with emotion to continue. I tried again. Again, I was stuck on the second word.
I tried to regain my composure before finally giving up and blubbering a prayer of gratitude for good friends and a request for more.
Could I possibly do this again?
I hope you do too.
This post is the first in a series of 12 articles I wrote as I prayed through the idea of what it means to love your neighbor and commit to a community. I’m so glad you’re here.
Here’s the next post in this series: When You’re Not Sure You Should Get To Know The Renters.