I've been working on a big landscaping project (at least for me) for the past few weeks (err...maybe months). Luckily, it's in the back yard, so my neighbors cannot complain about the "unsightly" mess. Or, the work in progress. As I was digging this morning, I was enjoying the quiet (Ranen was napping), the breeze was actually blowing in the shade (rare for Tallahassee), so my mind was free to form coherent thoughts. I started thinking about how my life was like the 500 or so square feet of dirt below my feet. And God the master gardener. I slung my metal rake into the ground, digging up a particular weed I've had trouble controlling. It apparently sends out runners underground, and any runner can offer up a weed above ground. The flower bed-to-be was full of them! Every where I dug, I ran into them.
How often does God do the digging in my life, tilling the compacted soil, pulling out the runners in order to make me more useful, fertile, productive. How painful sometimes. How refreshing in others.
I hope I can be more pliable to his tilling. I hope I can make an effort to be amended.
The house next door, to the south, has always been occupied by strange, single-mother families. There has only been two since we moved here, but both of them have given me strong bad vibes; like something sad, and ugly has happened to these people.
Our current neighbor moved in about a year or so ago. She has a 9 year old daughter and a Mercedes SLK. When I've gotten her mail on accident, it has contained crazy new age materials. (And, I'm not one to be put-off by hippies...but this stuff was out there. Also, this was deduced by just looking at the outside of these items, I didn't go through her mail.) :)
Anyway, since things didn't go well with our last neighbor, Christopher and I resolved to at least meet our current neighbor. She was kind of elusive (open garage door, pull car in, close garage door) and I don't think we tried hard after a few months.
Her daughter wanted to play with Adah, ahh...so I remember this now, Adah was only about 2 years old and she must have been 7 at the time. I told the little girl that I thought Adah was too young. I was working at the time and didn't want to spend energy baby sitting the interaction between them.
There have been a few interactions since then; usually the girl is concerned as her care-giver (baby sitter, grand father, uncle?) has not showed up to watch her and she needs to make a phone call. I get the sense that the mom works and doesn't spend much time with her daughter. Realize this is all a bunch of congecture since I don't know these people well.
Yesterday, the girl came by during dinner concerned about her mom being gone and her being alone. (I'm extrapolating, as I was nursing and Christopher answered the door. I got the story second hand.) She called her mom and the mom explained that the girl wanted to try to stay at home while the mom went out to the grocery store. The girl got scared, etc. etc. So, she stayed and played with Adah for a few minutes before her mom arrived. The mom came by and said she was sorry about it, that is was an experiment in independence. In this conversation, the girl asks her mom if she can play with Adah again. Luckily, she did not ask me point blank.
To make an already long story shorter, I have a wall I have put up to these people.
I've been in my back yard while the little girl has been in her's, yelling, ugly yelling, at her mother. The neighbor on the other side of this neighbor has told me (freely offering gossip; I couldn't get out of that conversation fast enough) that she's heard the girl screaming for hours during the night.
So, now, the girl is 9 years old and she wants to play with my 4 year old. My gut reaction was, "No way, I'm not okay with that. Go find friends your own age." So, I share this opinion with a friend tonight and she said that yes, she could understand how I feel right now, but consider how her coming to play with Adah might be a good chance to show her Jesus. (That's paraphrased, of course, she was more subtle with me.)
So, here I am, not even able to reach out to a 9 year old and a single-mother next door because I'm selfish; don't want to take the time and effort, afraid I'll offend, afraid her bad habits will rub off on Adah.
The girl came over this evening and asked to play with Adah. I told her that I wasn't comfortable with her playing with Adah, being 5 years older and all. Did I close the door? I hope I have another chance; I hope I'll listen to what Jesus would have me do.
I love to bake, so you give me a good excuse and I'm there. Today I went to the bruch the women's ministry was having (cinnamon rolls and Ranen in tow). I didn't really know anything about it (what they do, how long it is); I went in blind. I brought Ranen with me, since I'm trying my hardest to protect Christopher's work time (he's working at home). Ranen has had a cold all week and his morning nap time was going to be disturbed. GRrrr...
My neighbor friend said that one of the ladies she invited had a Drs. appointment and the other (the one who had been sober a month) had actually been drunk when she called to come over to pick her up. So she was not able to come.
I ended up leaving early so Ranen could get a nap, but I tried to view the event as someone who had just been sober a month. Would I be comfortable? Would I take these people as genuine? I am still wondering if it is the best use of my time. I told my neighbor friend that I would like her to introduce me, at some point in the future, to the ladies she invited. Maybe this weekly brunch isn't the best use of my time* (or the best for Ranen), but I should certainly get to know the neighbors who may not yet know Jesus. [*I have a women's Bible study that I attend bi-weekly. The bruch is two hours long (with Bible study).]
It's taken me years to form the close friendships I have right now (friends from college who all live in Tally, most of whom all go to different churches). I think that is one reason I don't reach out to the women at church. The void is already filled for me. Is that okay? Should I still be reaching out? This is the struggle of the introverted Christian. I believe in fellowship (Jesus wants us to be with, bearing with, loving, and encouraging people), but where are the boundaries? When is it okay to rest?
Matthew 28:19 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Anymore, I don't believe in just presenting the gospel. I think Jesus wants the good news presented, undergirded with a genuine relationship. How does that work? How many relationships can you have at one time while still maintaining the close friendships you have worked hard to cultivate?
There is a woman who goes to my church who lives in my neighborhood. She's has a very sweet spirit and you can tell she genuinely cares about people. I got to know her, not from her proximity, but because she was caring for her grandson who was in the toddler class I taught at church.
I was out in the front yard holding Ranen the other evening, while watering the rose bush, and she walked by with her dog. We talked for about 15 minutes.
Yesterday, she stopped by to invite me to a brunch get together that our church's women's ministry does. I have avoided women's ministry activities in our church for many reasons, some selfish (wanting to do with my time as I please), some righteous (wanting to avoid the inevitable over-commitment that leads to not taking care of my family as I should, I see this in a lot of families in our church, though I could totally be projecting my introverted feelings on the situation).
My gut wanted to decline the invitation (as I usually do). She mentioned that there were a few women in the neighborhood that she had invited and had agreed to go. One was the sister of a neighbor who had been sober for a month.
So, here's the struggle: my punk rock attitude wants to avoid the fluff of the "women's ministry," but when the honest, pure attempts of this women reveal she has reached out to someone who is likely struggling with life forces me to stop dead and think.
I will go to the brunch and focus on getting to know the sister of the neighbor. My prayer would be that God uses the time for his glory and that my self-righteouness doesn't get in the way.
Funny how the concept of the diary has changed since blogging started. There are blogs for all sorts of subjects and interests. I have another blog for my family, one that allows us to keep in touch with friends and family. But there's a lot I don't post knowing the readership. You can't always talk about something you're struggling through if it involves someone who is reading your blog.
It is easier for me to type than it is to write. So here's the question, why don't I type in a text file rather than a blog?