So it is that time of year again, in which my neighbors graduate, pack their belongings into large trucks of innumerable brands, and move on. This year I will lose Suzanne and Mary Beth and that idea just puts a little sad seed in my heart. They’ve known me for two years. Mary Beth was the first seminary person to find me and friend me on facebook, Suzanne and her family were the first members of this remarkable neighborhood to strike up a “passing” conversation that ended up being 20 minutes long. Mary Beth and I are in a small group at church together. Her oldest daughter LOVES my kids and the feeling is mutual. Suzanne and I have had conversations about everything from crocheting to organic farming to the implications of the regulative principle. I will deeply miss both of them.
On Saturday I was introduced to a new family who will be moving in to our neighborhood. He is doing summer Greek. They have three children close in age to my children. They seem like really nice people. On Saturday, I thought “I don’t have the energy to get to know you and just say goodbye in two years.” I was kind, and I chatted and I asked questions, but I put a fence on my heart with a one way latch on my side. I just don’t have the heart to keep doing this.
Then I went inside and the Lord spoke to me using facebook.
Something I ALWAYS do when I get on facebook is check which pictures Jawan has uploaded. Saturday I was not disappointed. There were some pictures from our Georgia church (where Jawan’s husband, Mitch, is our Georgia pastor) and I only recognized about 1/3 of the faces. You see, our town is a military town, and our church attracts military families. Families come to Westminster for a season, rarely for a lifetime, and Mitch and Jawan love on every one of them. I have never once seen Mitch or Jawan place a guard on their heart when meeting a new person. I have, repeatedly, seen them weep as now cherished families move on to a new geography. On our first Sunday at Westminster, the congregation said goodbye to a family who had been deep and heart felt friends for several years. That same Sunday, they made our little family of three feel welcomed like we were the first visitors in years.
Mary Beth and Suzanne loved on me here, knowing that we would only be neighbors for two years, but they also knew that this sort of annual upheaval was a short season in their lives. Mitch and Jawan have taken the ebb and flow of their unique church as their life time calling. If they can do that, I can welcome our new neighbors this summer. And if we get new neighbors in December, I can welcome them. I can take the fences down and love them well, for whatever time I have, because that is what the gospel at work in Mitch and Jawan have taught me.