23 Jan Two Knocks and an Open Door

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Our family often walks the half mile to our neighborhood park. We share the park with dog walkers, kids of all ages, and thoughtful older people circling the walking path – the many faces of the neighborhood. Sometimes, I have on my open, friendly face while I’m there. Other days, I’m more focused on pushing, corralling, and forestalling pants-wetting … hashtag mom life.

One warmish spring day, while I pushed my oldest daughter on the swing and my husband shot baskets, I noticed some unfamiliar faces – a tallish brunette mom and her kids. Maybe they were new to the neighborhood? I smiled at her and she smiled back, and we struck up a conversation.

Sure enough, they had just moved from Nebraska. She wondered if I knew of any open gyms where her husband could play basketball. We did, of course, at our church! I immediately went into my excited, talking-too-fast mode, and told her some guys met at our church gym on Thursday nights. My husband chimed in with details.

The word “church” had triggered something in her, though, and her face froze over, cold. She said little else. Even though I was sure she wasn’t interested, I poked her with the “church stick” again, inviting her to our church if she was looking for a church home. She just shook her head, lips pursed. My heart ached a little at the exchange, at pushing too hard against a closed door. I couldn’t help but knock, though. Maybe I’ll see her again someday, and we can start fresh. Move more slowly.

***

A few months later, I was pushing both of our girls in the double stroller toward a new neighbor’s house, balancing a plate of chocolate chip cookies on top. I had been meaning to stop by for several weeks and was rehearsing a little speech, coaching myself to be less awkward than not, speak slowly, and just be genuine. I had written my contact information on the front of a notecard and our church info on the back, and taped it to the bottom of the paper plate. Our little caravan strolled up to their door, and we knocked.

A couple of kids and a dog answered the door, mom in close pursuit. I started my awkward, “Hello, my name is …” spiel, and soon the mom and I were chatting naturally. I mentioned the notecard and our church, and saw frost creep over her smile. She changed the subject. We said good-bye after a few more pleasantries, and I wondered if I would hear from her. A few weeks later, she texted to set up a play date for our girls.

Since then, we’ve met up several times for play dates. We’re just talking, building a friendship. One cup of coffee at a time, one shared kid lunch of macaroni and cheese at a time. We’ve hit on a few serious issues in our conversations, but I’m trying not to poke her too hard with the “church stick.” At least not yet. If I care about her, I can’t help but show her the love of Christ. And that goes beyond coffee and chitchat. I pray for continued opportunities, for boldness, for her heart to be softened.

***

I don’t regret talking to either one of these two women in my neighborhood. I can’t control their responses. I’m pretty sure I’ll always talk too fast and get a little goofy when I talk to new people. But if God can use slow-in-speech-and-tongue Moses to lead a multitude out of Egypt, he can use a too-many-words-per-minute invitation to a new (or old!) neighbor. If my hellos or kindness or eagerness are rejected, I can still pray for them. May God soften their hearts!

But perhaps more importantly, may God soften mine. And open my eyes to the neighbors who need someone to bring the love of Christ to them: baked into a plate of cookies, in an offer to babysit, in an offer to help rake the lawn or borrow a tool. Let’s knock with prayerful hearts, whether the door remains closed or swings wide open.

This post was written by a member of Legacy’s Olathe Campus.

Are you ready to reach out to your neighbor? Read more about Legacy’s Acts of Mercy challenges.