• Karissa

Love Your Neighbor (It's Not That Hard)

It's probably Bob Goff's fault. He has become a friend in our home, although we have never met him. My daughter has the kid's devotional Goff and his daughter wrote (Sweet Lou calls it her "Bob book"), and the story of their neighborhood parade captured her imagination. Like I said, it's probable Bob's fault.

Goff wrote Love Does and Everybody Always, two books that proved not only we were long lost kindred spirits, but that loving your neighbor is easy. It just takes hard work.

It's as easy as waving hi to your neighbor every morning when you leave for work, but as hard as still waving at them when you discover it is their dog that has been pooping in your yard.

It's as easy as noticing when your neighbor left their garbage cans at the end of the driveway, but as hard as sitting with them at the hospital.

And it is as easy as throwing a parade for the neighborhood, but as hard as having everyone show up in your front yard ready for a good time.

That last one? That's what we did. Our life group, a group of people who have become family, decided to love the neighbors around this house we meet in every week. What better way than to channel our inner Bob Goff and throw a parade for everyone?

We walked (and drove up the steep hill) around and taped a flyer to every single door in our neighborhood, inviting them to come walk in a parade with us and eat ice cream in a month's time. Fast forward to the day of the parade, and I had gotten RSVP's from four or five families. We had 6.5 GALLONS of ice cream, a bunch of toppings, balloons, hundreds of pinwheels, and our little life group standing at the end of the driveway waiting for what would maybe be 8-10 people.

First came a couple kids on decked out bikes. Then a family with a delightful amount of bubbles to share. A retired couple with a huge butterfly balloon trailing behind them. And then more, and more, and more.

Every single person was smiling.

All 40+ of them.

We all walked around the block, blowing bubbles and putting pinwheels in people's yards, and as everyone got out in the street we hear the ice cream truck jingle.

At first, everyone assumed it was from the truck driving slowly down the middle of the road in front of the parade, but we looked behind us and alas! An ice cream man (in the creepiest beat up van with a sticker on the side but no other "ice cream truck" ID) was following the parade slowly down the street, probably thinking he had hit the jackpot of customers.

As we walked slowly down the middle of the road with the world's creepiest ice cream van trailing behind us, everyone began to laugh. Eventually a family watching from their yard flagged him down and told the driver he picked the worst possible day to show up in our neighborhood, explaining the fact that our little parade ended in an ice cream social. At the next turn he drove straight out of the neighborhood. That was the first and last time we have ever seen an ice cream truck here.

Our life group, who do not even live in our exact neighborhood, blew bubbles and scooped ice cream and loved on people like crazy. If you excuse all the hard work they did, it really was pretty easy.

As simple as having a reason to see people and make a connection.

As everyone trickled home, someone offered their driveway next year for root beer floats. Another person offered their old restored car as the lead for next year. People had suggestions and excitement, but underneath the ideas for decor or treats was just the excuse to be together with the people they have lived next to for years but just met and smile a lot.

Loving your neighbor isn't as hard as you think. There's no program or system or method. You just look at people, and really see them, and go from there.

And ice cream always helps.

P.s. these are the Bob Goff books my family loves*:

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