Oh, No, Having to Practice What I Preach


On Monday morning, I wrote about becoming a good neighbor in the lives of real people. I posted 4 Ways to Be a Neighbor to Those Closest to Us. Remember my questions and answers concerning Kevin, my next door neighbor?

Where does he work?

I don’t know.

What’s his girlfriend’s name?

I don’t know.

Do they have a child?

I think so but I’m not sure.

Funny thing happened Monday afternoon. I looked out my window and saw Kevin blowing a pile of dead leaves toward the street. Isn’t that hilarious?

Well, I didn’t mean ha-ha funny. I meant funny as in odd, strange, queer, and/or weird.

When I saw Kevin outside, I thought of my morning’s writings…and panicked.

Oh, no, I can’t just sit here and watch Kevin work. If only I’d kept the curtains closed, then I wouldn’t even know he was out there.

Well, the constant loud blast from the leaf-blower might have given me a clue that someone worked in the yard. But seeing him, I couldn’t ignore the fact I’d just written how little I knew about him.

It’s one thing to know the truth, to write about it, to express it in a blog. That’s safe.

But applying it? That’s frightening.

Knowing. Safe.

Doing. Scary.

If I started sorting clothes for the laundry, I could do that in the back of the house. Maybe Kevin would be done before I finished.

Besides I couldn’t just go outside and start up a conversation. He’d think I was strange. (Okay, I’ll give you that one, especially if you’re my wife.)

I needed a cover story.

Hey, I’ll walk the dog. Yeah, walk the dog. I do that every day. That’s not strange. It’s normal.

I leashed my poor excuse for a dog (She’s been a bit naughty the last few days, rolling around in oh-man-I’m-gonna-puke stinky, dead critters, ignoring “Penny, come,” and chewing through her leash. She’s even on Ellen’s naughty list.).

I opened the door, Here goes nothing, stepped outside, and walked straight over to my I-hardly-know-you neighbor.

By the time I said, “I gotta walk the dog,” I knew the answers to those pesky questions.

Kevin works at a local dairy processing plant.

His girlfriend’s name is Tina (she came out and talked as well).

They do not have a child. She does daycare work so that’s why I’ve seen a number of small children go in and out of their home.

I had also ventured a proposition. Why don’t we share supper together sometime soon?

Note to self: follow up on that idea.

There are some truths I need to face.

1)      Knowing something isn’t the same as doing something. I’ve read several stories about cycling across the U. S. I’ve checked out a few websites where groups take the coast-to-coast trip in the late spring or early summer. I know several practical things about making that kind of trip. Since I know so much, have I done it? No, studying up on a subject isn’t the same as experiencing it.

John Maxwell noted the difference between head knowledge and actual life experience when he talked about travel-agent versus tour-guide leadership. The travel agent talks about exotic places and wishes you bon voyage when she hands you the itinerary and plane tickets. The tour guide lives the experience a travel agent only talks about.

2)      You have to take that first step. I wrote Monday morning about getting to know my neighbor. Monday afternoon, I had to take that first physical step out the door and walk toward my neighbor in order to know him better. Until that moment, everything I’d written was an idea studied rather than a plan executed.

Question: What would you add to this short list on applying the truth you know?

Book reviews:

Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo

Rumors of God by Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson

Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron

Some fan favorites:

Shall We Gather at the River?

How Do You Handle Life’s Surprises?

Tough Times Provide Plenty of Reasons to Be Thankful

About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
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2 Responses to Oh, No, Having to Practice What I Preach

  1. Mary Jeffries says:

    Is this like love your neighbor as yourself? But no applying it? You like to cook…..so how can you share your gift and love of cooking with your neighbor. And WHO is your neighbor? You know a name, a little about him, but does he go to church?
    I ask this because for years I lived in the community with 3 churches and 2 in neighboring communities, all attended by people in my circle of relationships. And yet never once was I invited to attend any of their churches……A simple I attend……….church, do you have a church you usually attend opens the door to either encouraging them to keep attending where they are, or for you to invite them to join you on Sunday…not SOMETIME, not SOME Sunday, but make a date, and if they choose not to, well rejection is worth the risk….Believe me Tom, it is! SO my thought would be the next step could be a plate of something to eat and a church invitation……let us know how it goes! MJ

  2. tnealtarver says:

    Good challenging words. Exactly the stuff worth talking about and, moving from talk, doing. Kevin’s a neighbor and one I want to know better. Thanks for your thoughts. They offer light on a subject that’s significant.

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