What do you do when somebody shows up to your house that you aren't comfortable with? If you're going to start hosting events for your neighbors and other people you meet (like we talked about in this article), this is going to happen to you at some point.
And when it does, we hope you've developed a close bond with your neighbors.
Today we're going to share a story from our first year of truly living on mission. We're not sure if all our decisions in this time-frame were good ones, but we were sure happy to have developed close friendships with our neighbors. It made an awkward (and potentially dangerous) situation laughable and memorable.
Your neighbors will get rid of unwanted guests
Every year we throw a party during crush season. For those of you who don't have the luxury of living less than 2 hours from multiple excellent wine regions, crush season in America is between August and October. It's also known as the harvest (maybe that makes it sound a little more biblical). This is the time of year when grapes get harvested and crushed to make wine.
So, we invite a bunch of people over (around 30 typically show up), and tell them to bring a bottle of wine in disguise. Everyone decorates their bottle to make sure nobody knows what they're about to drink. Then we all vote for the best tasting wine and for the best dressed wine, and we have prizes. [If you want to know more about how we do these parties, let us know. Maybe you will see a Simply Sarah article about it soon]
Well, the first year we had this party, after it had died down (around midnight), we were sitting in our living room with three of our neighbors. The door was left unlocked by whoever had left last.
And, in through the front door walks a drunk college student (or so we assumed by his "Sac State" shirt). Looked like he'd probably left the bar a few blocks away and gotten lost. Or maybe he was party hopping. He must have heard us laughing and being loud and decided to join the party.
We hadn't lived here for very long at this point, so we thought the other neighbors might know who this man was. Maybe he was just late. Very late.
So, we all looked at our new guest. And we looked at each other. And he just stood there. swaying.
Then, out of nowhere, our neighbor yells, "Get the F@#$ out of my house!"
The newcomer stammered for a minute, "Hey man, I know I'm an A-hole. But can I get a charge?" as he held up his cellphone.
To which our neighbor repeated his original greeting.
The man seemed harmless, so nobody felt threatened as the conversation went back and forth for a few minutes.
Eventually I (Joe) walked over to this self-proclaimed A-hole and guided him to the door. Explaining that he could not 'get a charge' here. At least not at midnight. He apologized and tried to hug me as I nudged him out onto the porch. He moved on, and I promptly locked the door.
When he was gone, I turned to our neighbor and said, "First of all, this is my house. And, second...thank you for that."
We all laughed about our visitor for another hour before everyone went home. And "Can I get a charge?" is still a running joke at our weekly neighborhood happy hours.
About a year later, we had the opportunity to repay that neighbor who helped get the drunk stranger out of our living room.
One night, when returning from our weekly date night, we noticed an older man stumbling his way down our block. Once we parked, we saw him try the door handle, and walk straight into our neighbor's house (apparently we need to make better use of our locks).
I (Joe) immediately jumped out of the car and ran to the door to make sure everything was okay. He clearly didn't belong in my neighbor's house. As I reached for the door handle, I heard a familiar yell: "Get the F@#$ out of my house!"
I opened the door to find the lost and drunk man had barely made it into the entryway. So, I grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back out to the curb. We figured out where he belonged and helped him get on his way.
Apparently drunk men find our block attractive after dark. Especially when we leave the doors unlocked.
Do your neighbors look out for each other?
One of the values that develops in a neighborhood when true relationships start to grow is that you look out for one another. The family living down the street begins to feel like part of your family. You stand up for the things that are important to you. Everyone just instinctively takes care of everyone else.
So, as you work toward being a better neighbor, you will begin to feel compelled to look out for your neighbors. The way Jesus told us we should.
Maybe this already exists in your neighborhood. Maybe you do look out for your neighbors. If so, then make sure you continue to build those relationships.
We thought we wanted to set up a Neighborhood Watch on our block. But, after observing how well we already take care of each other, we decided there is no point in doing anything official. Everyone on the block already keeps an eye on our neighborhood.
And that is a sign of neighbors who really care about each other. Neighbors who, whether they know it or not -whether they intended to, or it happened instinctively- demonstrate the love of Jesus to those around them.
What would it take for you to build this kind of trust with your neighbors? If you have any stories like this, share them in the comments below. Or click the little Facebook logo, and start a conversation there!