Neighbors on the Field
Neighbors on the Field
Our summer schedule was written down on two large calendar months I posted in my kitchen. Every weekday had a practice. Every weekend had a travel tournament. The pace of life was a rush to say the least. I realize many parents do not prefer this kind of summer. But for a household of three teenage boys and one preteen girl, I was honestly thankful to have a summer full of activities for them and with them. Outside their summer jobs, it was a great opportunity to be active and involved in the community.
During this season I knew that “loving my neighbors” needed to look different.
Four sports teams equaled more than 40 sets of parents. Early on, my husband and I would pray for gospel opportunities. We knew we wanted to develop relationships. As we sat side-by-side cheering on our kids, we would slowly get to know the parents. Beyond the formal greetings and basic questions, we would ask:
“Do you have any practical ideas to manage the weekend travel?”
“What do you like about this stage of your child’s life?”
“What’s your church background?”
“Tell me your story.”
Was it perfect? No! Did we do this every time? No! Were we good at it? No! But we tried.
Being intentional takes forethought and consideration of good timing. Beginning the day with prayer was truly the key.
- It opened our eyes to the possibilities of how God might want to use us.
- It gave us a curiosity to look for opportunities to invest in someone’s life.
- It engaged our hearts to pray for gospel openness, and we would look for open doors to share Christ.
Many weekends we left the house at 6 a.m. I remember vividly staying in my car, drinking coffee and reading the Bible during the first hour before the games began. I would pray a simple prayer for God to help me see beyond the sport and to love the people around me. Here are a few things I did that provided good ways to connect:
- Bring someone their favorite drink.
- Text a verse of encouragement.
- Offer to pray if discovering a hardship the family is facing.
- Make extra homemade banana bread to share.
- Take a photo of a mom with their daughter/son and send it to them.
Sometimes it happens that love is not only given but received.
One particular set of parents became very close to us and one another. When my husband passed away during one of the sports seasons, these families surrounded us and what poured out from them was incredible. They rallied together to make sure we were completely cared for. Food, cards, flowers, baskets for the kids, meals, gift cards and their presence all came in overflowing measure. They took care of us in every way and all through the year. Even as I type some five years later, they still check on me, want to be with me and make sure I have what I need. I’ve learned a lot about loving my neighbors through the love they poured out to me.
There is an old Amish saying, “When you can’t feel the love of God, you will see it come through his people.”
Maybe loving our neighbors doesn’t come easy for you. Maybe the investment is challenging or seems insignificant. Maybe we won’t see the results of being faithful. But the Lord still wants us to trust him and love the people around us.
If you would like more resources on how to love your neighbor, check out NBS2GO’s How to Love the People Around You.