It was a dreary Friday afternoon. As I walked down the stairs, I noticed our new neighbour sitting outside her front door. ‘Oh no’, I thought, ‘She must have locked herself out!’
Our house was a complete tip.
Two of my four children were still in their pyjamas (it was only 2:30 pm, cut me some slack!!).
There was Lego literally covering three quarters of the living room floor.
The remnants of lunch were yet to be cleared off the kitchen table.
Washing up was piled high next to the sink.
There was very little in the cupboards or fridge as we were going on holiday the next day - no freshly baked blondies or even a biscuit to dunk in a cup of tea.
This wasn’t really how I wanted to introduce myself and my life to this lovely expectant mother who had just joined the neighbourhood.
But what an opportunity to extend a friendly hand and offer help, shelter and a hot drink?
I had milk, a kettle and a sofa that could be cleared of the clean laundry (at least it was clean, right?!).
I’d been reading The Gospel Comes With A House Key by Rosario Butterfield and this seemed like a chance as good as any in the chaotic life of a self employed mother of four! Let’s face it, our house is never tidy and the kids aren’t dressed a lot during the summer holidays.
I quickly ran the hot tap, added some fairy liquid and popped the plates, cups and cutlery in the dishwasher while the sink filled up. Once done, I soaked the pots and pans into the hot soapy water. I checked the toilets were flushed and smelling fresh (never guaranteed with two young boys), picked up my two year old and ran across the road.
Our neighbour was no longer on her doorstep. ‘Oh’, I thought, ‘she must have got in.’ But then I caught sight of the top of her head in the drivers seat of her car. I walked over to her and knocked on the window of her car.
‘Are you okay?’ I asked. ‘I saw you sitting outside your front door. Do you want to come over to ours?’
‘Oh no, I’m not locked out’, she replied. ‘The car won’t start so I’m just waiting on my mum to come over and take me to the royal for a check up appointment! I just came out because I didn’t want to miss her.’
Well didn’t I look a fool now! Our first exchange and I’d got it all wrong!
Now I am no extrovert. I will not answer the phone to an unknown number. I will do anything to avoid speaking to a stranger on the phone, and am not great at speaking to friends on the phone. I need to sit in a quiet room for a couple of hours after a day with my kids talking to me. Going over there and engaging in conversation was beyond my comfort zone.
To make matters worse, what was a very light spit of rain when I exited my front door had suddenly become a very heavy rain shower. I was getting soaked, I was getting my 2-year-old soaked and I was making her get soaked when she could have been staying dry in her car.
Thankfully, she didn’t seem to mind and we had a quick conversation where I was able to tell her she’s most welcome over anytime and we can have a cuppa. I am now expecting us to become BFFs. (Kidding.)
When our new neighbours moved in the week before, we dropped a card though the door - a new home card, the one pictured above - we told them inside that if they needed anything, we were here to help. Bin days, takeaway recommendations, an emergency tin of tomatoes, whatever they needed! We gave them our mobile numbers and included all our names and the ages of the kids.
There are always opportunities to put words into action and help, encourage and love those around us. Even when it is beyond our comfort zone. Living life as a Christian is not about staying in the comfort zone.
Sometimes, it’s a small thing in someone’s day that goes a long way to make them feel less lonely or isolated. Isolation is not what I want those around me to feel. If I can be of any help, even if it backfires massively and makes me look like a numpty, I will lay down pride and privacy and even introverted tendencies and extend a hand of kindness and friendship.
How can you do the same today? Hopefully you will read the situation right and be of actual help!!