Kevin and I recently had a conversation about what it means to love ones neighbor as oneself. The conversation has caused us to look very concretely at our actions within the community that we find ourselves in. Though our attempt is to live as our neighbors, we find ourselves in a position in which we have more economic resources than those around us. Thus, we have been pondering some questions in our own life.
If I really loved my neighbor, when I got home from a long days of work wouldn't I smile as my neighbor kids ran towards me instead of think, "I am so tired and have no more energy?"
If I really loved my neighbor, I would be glad, not annoyed after the tenth child of the evening yelled my name at our front door asking for a glass of water.
If I really loved my neighbor, wouldn't I offer the two extra beds, full of pillows (and even decorative ones) to my neighbors who as a family of four share one bed with no pillows?
If I really loved my neighbor, wouldn't I be glad each day when my neighbor boy Derrick asks to climb my mango tree and not be frustrated that I am losing twenty minutes out of my day that I had planned for something else?
If I really loved my neighbor, wouldn't I be better at sharing our space? The space that Kevin and I live in is the same size that sixteen people share next door.
If I really loved my neighbor, wouldn't I do everything that I could to ensure that none of the children or their parents go to bed with hungry stomachs?
My mind is always considering what we can do to be a helpful neighbor, recognizing the needs around us. I know that I need to take care of myself, that after a long workday it is okay to say to my neighbor kids that I am tired and model self-care to them. We are also doing everything that we can to avoid dependency and I know that giving “handouts” is not the best model for development work. But seriously, who cares about a “handout” when kids are starving.
It is hard to know how to best relate, not always as the person giving, but living in equality among these beautiful and beloved individuals.
I have a long ways to go on this journey of loving my neighbor as myself, Lord guide me.
James 2:8 - Love your neighbor as yourself