Meet Jane: The Woman Who Teaches Me How To Be A Good Neighbor
To the woman who teaches me how to be a good neighbor.
A Tribute to Jane
Its engine straining, our moving van crawled up the steep driveway at 2810 Forrestridge Drive eleven years ago this month. With a toddler and some relatives in tow to help unload the truck, we moved into our new home. Shade trees, a “mommy” desk and lots of built-in storage were on my list of things to thank God for as I noticed how much He cares about the details. I never imagined how He would give me more than I could ever have asked for --and many of those blessings came from the house catty-cornered from me across the street.
The day after we moved in, we found notes and cookies on the hood of our car from several neighbors. These were women who had already raised kids and even grandchildren on Forrestridge Drive. They invited me to Bible studies and prayer groups, came to visit when we had our second baby, and had me over for coffee. I was a young mom on the lookout for other young moms in my new neighborhood--and there weren’t any. But God had a better plan for me. A friend I didn’t know to look for.
Jane lives in that house catty-cornered from mine. She turns 75 next month, yet she’s been one of my dearest friends in Denton for the last eleven years. God led me to serve with NBS2GO, a ministry laser-focused on loving God and neighbors, and He has used Jane to teach me how to neighbor well as I seek to introduce people to Jesus.
I know Jane would never tell anyone she disciples me, but she does nonetheless. Just today we went on a long overdue walk together and talked about the hard parts of life and money and jobs and hope in Jesus.
If I could distill some of the lessons on neighboring I’ve learned from Jane, I would say that she’s taught me to:
- Be a servant/ be available: I don’t have family in Texas. No family to call if the car breaks down or the garage door gets stuck and I can’t get my car out. No family to come sit with kids when my husband has to take me to the emergency room in the middle of the night. No family to water my plants or check my mail or let my dog out if we have to travel. Jane IS family to me. She is a servant and I’ve called on her for ALL of these things and more.
- Be relational: When the kids were babies I walked miles and miles around this neighborhood every day. We invested in a double stroller, but guess what---we had three kids under four and the oldest couldn’t walk as far as I wanted. Jane must’ve known how lonely I was during those years, because she walked miles and miles with me, often pushing a second stroller! And all the while, she had her own daughters just minutes away with whom she could spend time. But she made space for me relationally. We talked and cooed at babies together. She allowed me to confide in her and process thoughts with her. She built a relationship with me when I needed it most.
- Be a peacemaker: In all the years I’ve known Jane, I’ve never heard her utter a grievance against another neighbor. I’m sure she has some since she’s lived here for over 25 years, but she strives to live at peace with people and be a delight to everyone she encounters. She and her husband live above reproach and at peace with everyone.
- Be aware: I’m always surprised (though I shouldn’t be anymore) when Jane remembers each of my kid's birthdays and brings them something. They feel so seen and loved by Jane. Just last month, my 8-year-old walked over to ask Jane to come to Grandparent’s Day at school because her own grandmothers live out of state and both happened to be sick. Jane knows this little girl and how important it must have been for her to venture to the door to extend such an invitation, and immediately said “yes”. The thank you note my girl wrote to Jane brought me to tears as I considered what a gift we’ve all been given in this woman.
I want to love people well, don’t you? Sometimes I spend time with God, asking Him how to love neighbors specifically. Sometimes I listen to others who offer advice in this area. And sometimes I just think about Jane and my other neighbors and the ways they’ve loved and impacted my life. Jesus tells me to love my neighbor as myself. What makes you feel loved? As I consider all the ways my neighbor Jane has loved me over the years, it spurs me on to go and love others in the same way: by being available, relational, peacemaking and aware of needs.