Amy Carroll » Investing Passionately » Why I Refused to Love My Neighbor

Why I Refused to Love My Neighbor

Today my dear friend Amy Lively is our guest blogger. Please welcome her with a big WoooHooo! Make sure to read to the end to participate in her fantastic giveaway.

When our daughter outgrew her swing set, we sold it to an acquaintance who struggled to find a truck and some buddies to help haul it away. We weren’t home when his plan came together, so we told him to go ahead and get started. They removed the swings and were dismantling the slide when a woman came out of the house and asked why they stealing her swing set in broad daylight. They were at my neighbor’s house!

It’s a nightmare having a pizza delivered in my neighborhood. With its poorly marked winding streets all named after trees, the poor driver can never find our house—seriously, I use the strobe light app on my smart phone to signal them from the driveway or else they circle aimlessly while my dinner grows cold. There are people who have lived in our neighborhood for over 35 years who still don’t know the street names!

I got lost in my neighborhood, too.

Why I Refused to Love My Neighbor

I wandered aimlessly through my neighborhood, not paying attention to the people living around me. I refused to look up from my busy life and notice what was happening all around me. So when God reminded me of His #2 command to love my neighbor as myself, I was a little surprised. Then I was excited! But then I got scared. And finally, I told God why this was a just a terrible idea.

I patiently explained to the Lord that I was too busy to invest in my neighbor’s lives. I was caring for my husband and our daughter, working from home, volunteering at church and school, going to ministry school—these are all good and necessary things, right?

You know what else? I’m not spiritual enough. I don’t know the answers to life’s toughest questions. I’m a work in progress, an imperfect and implausible witness. Perfect excuse, right?

Besides, my house isn’t ready. I can’t plan Pinterest-worthy parties. You told Martha to back off, didn’t You? You want me to be tied up in religious business like her sister, Mary, right?

It’s risky. You never know who’s lurking behind those blinds. My neighbors don’t seem friendly. I could get hurt.

I had every excuse in the book, and most of them were valid.

I am busy, I am broken, my house is dusty, people are unpredictable. Trouble was, I couldn’t find an exception clause in the second-greatest commandment (trust me, I looked hard)—

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37–39

I had every excuse in the book for not loving my neighbor, and a few I’m sure God had never heard before—but I couldn’t find an asterisk or exemption to get me off the hook. After months of arguing with God, I finally knocked on my neighbors’ doors and invited them for coffee at my kitchen table.

At first, it felt awkward. It wasn’t always easy. But now? Since I’ve met Juanita and Linda, Mary Ann and Mary Sharon, Bonnie and Lauren? And my neighbors sat together in my living room last night and talked and laughed and cried and prayed?

Oh, yeah—the reward was worth the risk.

Can you relate? I can! That’s why I love Amy’s newly released book How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird so much. 

To enter the giveaway below, share your story of reaching out to a neighbor or simply say “I want to love my neighbors” to enter.

giveawayEach giveaway includes:

  • 2 MUGS Adorable “Love Your Neighbor” mugs, one for you, one for your neighbor!
  • 10 CARDS to ask your neighbor over for coffee, board games, BBQ – you name it! Invite one neighbor or the whole block, whatever works.
  • 2 COFFEES Single-serve Columbian coffees.
  • 2 COASTERS to put under your steaming mugs.
  • 1 BOOK A signed copy of Amy’s book, How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird.

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83 Comments

  1. Please let me know if you’re looking for a writer for your site. You have some really great posts and I think I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d absolutely love to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please shoot me an e-mail if interested. Regards!

  2. I’m the new person in the neighborhood! But actually we have been here a year just this last month! I have talked with the nice lady across the street a few times but….maybe I need to be the first person to take it to the next level!

  3. Great post! opened my eyes. I tend to isolate and be reserved because of social anxiety and fear of rejection/embarrassment. However, I’m moving in 2 weeks. I’m very sad… but one positive way to look at it is new people, new places, new opportunities!

  4. Laura Carter says:

    I want to love my neighbors

    1. My challenge was moving from conviction to action. Lots of ideas in the book, my website and Facebook to help with that!

      1. Laura Carter says:

        thanks so much, your book is next on my list to read when I’m done with Whole 30 book

  5. Oh goodness…I want to love my neighbor, but I’m scared to death! What an excellent book you are offering!

    1. Laura Carter says:

      same here, I have no idea where to start

    2. It can be scary! But I promise, the reward is worth the risk. It’s only scary until you’ve faced your fear and found a new friend. What I once feared is now my greatest joy. I pray the same for you, Laura & Jennifer!

  6. This past winter was brutal here in New York. My neighbor had some issues with his roof. I called our church and asked if any of the younger guys could come and help. There were 5 guys over in no time. The guys got done and asked if they could pray with these folks and THEY DID. this has opened doors for me to go over and help in other situations now. I am learning that whenever there is an opportunity to stop you must… This is your divine appointment from God. I’m learning to not be so stubborn and obey….

    1. The Church in action is a beautiful thing to see! Bless you for keeping your eyes open to your neighbor’s needs. May the hard work of winter yield a harvest in summer!

  7. Shirley berry says:

    Amazing!
    Just last night I sent an email to my granddaughter asking her to pray for me tone bold to share Jesus with my neighbours,and now I found this giveaway covering exactly what I need to know!
    Sure hope to be the winner!!!

  8. Shirley berry says:

    Amazing.
    Last night I sent an email to my granddaughter asking her to pray for me to be bold to share Jesus with my neighbors…. And here is your book about exactly that!!!would love to have this gift package.
    Read chapter one.

    1. Shirley, I’m thankful for the Lord’s timing -love it when He does that! And, how beautiful is it that you have this kind of spiritual relationship with your granddaughter?! The winner has already been chosen but I hope you’ll finish reading the book and find more ideas at my website.

  9. I know my neighbors but in my busyness do not slow down enough at times to just spend a few minutes chatting. Have been trying to do that more, but really like the coffee idea. Also looking to remodel and move to our summer cabin year round. Time to be more mindful of time with those neighbors. It is a rural area and though I know them, one does not see people as often.

    1. Being intentional will be even more important if you’re separated by a little more space. May the Lord guide your steps and open your neighbor’s hearts!

  10. I want to love my neighbor.

  11. I’m working on this! My neighbor who lives beside me had his power disconnected last month. I have a power cord running to his house so that he can have a light. I only have one heavy power cord. He connects it to a smaller cord. He has learned what he can use without knocking my breaker. I have learned which breaker to flip when I hear a click in my bedroom closet. My neighbor across the road… We keep an eye out on one another’s places. We three are the only neighbors in sight in our rural area. I have known them ( the two guys, not their ladies) from their childhoods.These neighbors make me feel safer at night. I am blessed. I am not perfect and neither are they, but God loves us all and we know it.

    1. This is one of the sweetest examples of loving our neighbor I’ve seen in a long time! Your kindness practical and necessary. Your neighbor would literally be in the dark without you! I pray that God blesses you financially for paying for your neighbor’s electricity, and that He abundantly pours every spiritual blessing upon your little neighborhood.

  12. It isn’t easy to reach out of our comfort zones. We invited a neighbor to church with us on Easter and she is beginning a relationship with Christ. Stepping out in faith is always worth it…God does greater things than we can ask or imagine!

  13. Rebecca Diaz says:

    I know my neighbors that are on each side of my house and the one in front. I have known them since 20 years that I moved in. One of them has been just a couple of years. We all say hi to each other but only speak to each other outside in the driveway. We have talked about how things are going in our lives but I want to really love my neighbors by going the extra mile and inviting them into my house for a cup of coffee or tea and read the bible and probably start reading a good book to discuss how it would help us in our daily lives. Our children have grown up and some have gone out of town but we older people need to get together and learn more about God’s way of living.

    1. Why don’t you try it? One neighbor, one cup of coffee – and see where it goes? Let me know what happens!

  14. I would love to love my neighbors, but don’t know how. I have a lot of fear of being rejected. I don’t know what to do, or how to get past it. Please pray for me and help me if you can. Thank you.

    1. Oh, I relate to this one. I spent years either chasing the wrong crowd or cloistering myself with the right crowd just to avoid rejection. 1 Peter 2:20 says, “If you’re treated badly for good behavior and continue in spite of it to be a good servant, that is what counts with God.” Our responsibility is to obey… their reaction is between them and God. I am praying for you, hon – please pray for me, too.

  15. One neighbor is a self-righteous know-it-all Christian who unfortunately has had a LOT of grief in her life. We have prayed with and for her often. The other neighbor is a former Catholic turned Buddist. SHE is whacko! We pray for her often. The neighbor behind us just moved, and rumor is a young girl will be moving in as soon as she graduates from college. That is all I know about her. I WANT to be a good neighbor to her and the other two.

    1. The women at Proverbs 31 taught me something you may find useful when dealing with crazy neighbors – Grace, Grace, Grace. Freely you have received, so freely give. Don’t give up on the crazy ones, I was once one myself!

  16. I want to love my neighbors! I think this is so relevant. Here’s wishing you good success. Thanks so much for your story and the give-away opportunity.

  17. I recently became convicted of this very thing. God spoke to me and I felt compelled to start a neighborhood Bible study. I wrote a letter to each of the ladies in my neighborhood (23 altogether) and 5 responded and we are now having a Bible study on the book of John using the Life Change Series. They are all so glad that I thought of doing it but I keep telling them that it is God who wanted us to do this. We have met 4 times now. God is doing wonderful things.

    1. Yes He is! May He continue to bind your neighbors together in fellowship. Your neighborhood gathering us building unity among many churches in your community!

  18. I am a grandmother who came t a new state to help care for my grandson. He is one and I am very busy but after my daughter picks him up each day I realize I need to get out and get know my neighbors. I make excuses About not bothering them but I know it would be best. Your blog has made me realize this. Thank you for the reminder.

    1. You couldn’t have an excuse I didn’t already have! I bet many of your neighbors would appreciate having a friend nearby. Prayers and hugs to you!

  19. I want to love my neighbors. I try but I am not so bold. My husband has helped with snow removal and helping one of the neighbors when their vehicle got stuck. I even invited one of the neighbors over for coffee/tea. They didn’t come… I still wave and say hello and ask how they are. It’s funny that I came across this today though because we had someone new move in on the next street and when I passed by this morning, I thought about how people used to welcome new comers with a pie or cookies or something… but I let that thought quickly pass. Maybe I will do something like that… God give me the boldness to do whatever it is you want me to do in my neighborhood… even though You KNOW that is going to be a tough job… LOL Thank you for causing us to ponder … and respond… to that gentle reminder that the Lord is trying to get across to us =)

  20. Jean Wold says:

    Our church recently did a series, “Neighbor to Neighbor” on this very subject. After reading your blog I feel God is trying ever so gently to smack me on the head. I want to love my neighbors!

    1. Only God could give us a “gentle” smack on the head! Love it when He does that!

  21. A few years ago, as we made our 13th corporate move. I was convicted of this “loving/getting to know my neighbors in a NEW PLACE. I was a TEXAN transplanted to MAINE. In my quiet time one morning I felt God say ” why not invite them into your home for Bible Study like you have done in TEXAS”? Coming up with a plan to reach out to people that didn’t quiet have that SOUTHERN FEEL was a bit daunting. With the help of a sweet new friend I made flyers with info about myself and we walked the neighborhood!! We had approximately 50 flyers delivered! I waited & prayed for God to work. After 2 weeks I received 1 reply which said……… ” I kindly decline”. I wondered why God would send me to soooo much trouble and not ONE person wanted what I offered. OBEDIENCE is what God requires …….. The results are up to HIM. I AM LISTENING to hear His voice STILL as we have once again made another move…….NEW NEIGHBORS!!!!❤️

    1. Definitely a different vibe from Texas, isn’t it? Cheers to you for your obedience, regardless of their response – and for being willing to try it again. Have you considered hosting an Open House to meet people before you do a Bible study? It’s a nice ice-breaker and welcomes women who may not be interested in or able to make a longer commitment.

  22. Jill Fowler says:

    I really want to love my neighbors!

  23. Judy Taylor says:

    Thank you for sharing, this is a great devotion to share at our REFIT fitness classes for women…..just ” do it”…..we all need encouragement to get up and go to our neighbor!

    1. Hey, why not start a walking club in your neighborhood, or invite a neighbor to a fitness class? How about a 2-for-1 special? Doing an activity together is a great way to make friends, and a neighborhood walking club improves safety as well as health.

  24. I want to love my neighbors!

  25. I want to love my neighbors. I really do, not just to win 😉 I will admit the idea is scary though. I am shy. People who know me don’t believe it but I really am and it is really hard for me to put myself out there. I know I can with God’s help though! Thank you for the giveaway. What a nice thing to do!

    1. Are you shy, or are you introverted? If you’re introverted, God designed you for intimate, deep friendships while small talk drives you crazy. I pray that your unique personality will be a blessing to your neighbors!

  26. I really needed this encouragement today. I also have ignored promptings from God to reach out to our “neighbors” and always feel bad when I don’t follow through. Prayerfully I will try to overcome my fear of the “what if’s” and reach out in trust. Thank you for this great post.

    1. Instead of worrying, “What’s the worst that could happen?” I try to wonder, “What’s the BEST that could happen?” Whatever happens, it’s in God’s hands – all we have to do is take the first step!

  27. I moved across the country right before Christmas and got to experience an outpouring of welcome from my new neighbors. Some have brought food; others brought plants. They’ve invited my husband and me out for coffee, lunch and dinner. They’ve welcomed us into their lives. Being on the receiving end makes me realize there are no wrong ways to show welcome and love.

    1. “No wrong ways” – I like that! Reminds me of 1 Timothy 1:5, “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

  28. Christmas Day 2013 – I had just finished fixing dinner for my family. As we sat gathered around the table enjoying our feast, I heard God whisper, “take Jenny a plate of food.” Jenny was my neighbor who was widowed and living alone.

    Instantly, I felt butterflies in my stomach and thought, “she’ll think I am weird; plus I barely know Jenny, and I might make her feel uncomfortable.” To support my first thought I followed it with, “I know she has some health issues, what if she is diabetic, and I take her too much sugar?” I pondered God’s whisper, weighed my uneasiness and stayed home.

    Christmas Day came and passed, the next day as I drove past Jenny’s house I felt a pit in my stomach. Why had I not been obedient? I couldn’t go back an undo the missed opportunity. I fixed in my mind that I would make better the next Christmas.

    Sadly, Jenny passed that summer. Oh, how I wish now I would have followed up God’s whisper with courageous obedience. Perhaps Jenny needed more than just a plate of food that day. Maybe she needed to know she was remembered or maybe she needed someone else’s presence or a hug.

    My heart breaks for leaving that dear soul alone that day. God taught me a lesson from that experience: seize the opportunities He presents, even when it makes me uneasy and leave the outcome in His hands.

    Thank you for sharing your experience today, Amy. It’s spot on and great encouragement for following God’s second command to love our neighbor.

    1. Your story – Jenny’s story – taught me a lesson, too. Thank you so much for sharing it, and reminding me that the outcome is in God’s hands. Obedience is in mine. We all have a Jenny in our neighborhood who craves affection even more than a nice meal.

  29. Cindy Phiffer says:

    I want to love my neighbors better.

  30. Lisbeth L. says:

    I have moved 3 times in the past 2 years- all apartment living near bigger cities- and you know the saying for city folk right? We have no idea who our neighbors are, they all come and go- they are strangers- not the type of people one would ever befriend. We keep our heads down when we pass in the halls and walkways. Up until 10 years ago, I was a small town gal where everyone knew one another. City life has changed me. It’s too bad really- many of us seem to have adopted the city-people mentality- we ARE afraid to take that first step for all the reasons you mentioned in your blog Amy. I will be moving again soon(same city) but to a condo-community this time. I plan on taking that leap of faith and reaching out to a new neighbor this time around- now who’s with me?

    1. I’m with you! I’m praying with you and for you, that this move will also move your heart toward your neighbors – and that they will respond in kind. May the Lord stir their hearts even now toward Him!

  31. “I want to love my neighbors”

  32. A couple of years ago I started a neighborhood Bible study – so far it’s eight of us, mostly those who already knew the Lord. I want to draw others in, to bring in those who are behind the curtains and who I haven’t been bold enough to approach. What I really want is for it to be easy, but the kingdom of God isn’t about easy its about eternity and so most of all I want them to know, to know Him.

    1. I am praying for you as you invite others to join your neighborhood Bible study! The book has tips on choosing a study that’s widely appealing to women of all faiths or no faith.

  33. I want to like my neighbor.

    1. I would love to LIKE my neighbors! The book reveals how to LOVE them even when we don’t really like them. It’s all about attitude!

  34. Angela Montgomery says:

    There’s always room for improvement

  35. Lauretta Pesce says:

    Recently moved to another state and have only met one neighbor. Needed this and would love the book.

    1. There’s a lot about loneliness in the book, and I’m sorry you may be experiencing this yourself. I am praying that you will find a friend of your heart in your new home.

  36. We are moving in a month and I’ve already started pondering how to “love my neighbor”. My intentions are good, but I know how easy it is to be too busy and daily pass by houses without having any idea of who the people are who inhabit them. Would love to check out your book!

    1. You’re exactly right – before you know it, the days add up to months and years. Act now while you’re thinking of it!

  37. I don’t live close to very many people. But I like to bake banana bread or cookies for people at my church when they are down and out. Thanks for the giveaway.

    1. It’s so important to offer these gifts and gestures of caring! Want to share your best recipe? I’d love to know!

  38. Anne Lewis says:

    I would love to win so I can best love my neighbor!

  39. Anne Lewis says:

    Wonderful post! 2nd time today I have been told to love my neighbor. God is convicting me! I would love the book to learn how to best love my neighbor.

    1. He has this way of revealing what He wants! I’m pretty sure this command is meant for you, Anne 🙂

  40. This topic matters! Thank you for reminding us to look up and see our neighbors and reach out to them. We only have 3 houses near us where we live right now. I go through phases of reaching and phases of forgetting. I’ve been forgetting since Christmas. When the garden produce rolls in, I’ll zip down to each house and knock on their doors again with a smile.

  41. I’m still looking for the exemption clause, also! The best way my husband and I have found to reach out to our neighbors is to invite them for BBQ! Very casual, and we all get to know each other a little better! Great post!

    1. Food is a sure win 🙂 Hope you have many successful summer BBQ’s this summer in your neighborhood!

  42. Shirley Davidson says:

    Wonderful post! And it does hit home on so many levels. I live in an apartment building and it’s difficult to know my neighbors. After this though, I’m going to be a bit more unafraid. Thank you!

    1. Don’t be afraid! Be wise, but bold – and take advantage of the built-in ways to meet people like common areas, gyms, pools, parties, etc. Or, start them yourself!