This past weekend, I spoke at the Cleveland Fish Radio Station’s Christmas Luncheon. In the photo above on the far left, is the hostess and radio personality – Brooke Taylor. I love her! On my right is Dove Award Winning Aaron Shust who sang beautifully! And then on my immediate left is our guest here today – Amy Lively. Amy spoke before me and what she shared struck me like a dagger in my heart.
As you know, I’ve been writing a lot here about practical ways we can Keep Christ in CHRISTmas. When Amy began to speak about reaching out to our neighborhoods – I knew that this is one area I’ve struggled in.
In my old neighborhood, I lived in the city where I saw my neighbors all the time and I truly enjoyed them as friends. But in our new neighborhood, we each have about an acre of land, so we are spread out and as a result - I have to be purposeful to meet and friend my neighbors here…and I haven’t been. I have two neighbors I feel connected with but the others I have not gone out of my way to friend.
So if you are like me – then maybe you need to hear what Amy is about to say below. If you are NOT like me and you have invested in your neighbors – high five to you – and maybe you’ll consider the resource that Amy has below as a way to open doors to deeper spiritual conversations.
It will be a “Silent Night” in many homes on your street this Christmas. In fact, one in five of your neighbors suffers silently from loneliness.
Nine out of ten elderly people say a simple chat on the phone would alleviate their loneliness, but one in four have no one to talk to. A 2010 AARP study found that 35% of all adults over age 45 are chronically lonely – a 75% increase in just ten years.
One in four of the homes on your street is occupied by a single person living alone, up from one in ten in 1950. Living alone doesn’t automatically make you lonely. You can feel lonely lying in bed with your husband or with a house full of children—you can feel lonely in the midst of a Christmas celebration. You can be a loyal woman of faith and still feel lonely, because as we’re transformed into the image of God we crave the relationships He designed us to enjoy.
Forty-five percent of people surveyed said they DREAD the holiday season! Yes, Christmas can be lonely. And loneliness can be deadly.
Being lonely can be as damaging to your health as smoking or obesity—and lonely people are more likely to be obese. Loneliness also increases your likelihood of experiencing memory loss, dementia, depression, sleep disorders and heart conditions.
It was a “Silent Night” on that first Christmas, until a baby’s cry broke the silence.
Christmas is the perfect time to break the silence between you and your neighbors with the good news of Christ’s birth. Christmas is a natural time to fulfill Christ’s command found in Mark 12:31: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
This Christmas, march down your sidewalk, raise a quivering hand and knock on your neighbors’ door. If you don’t know your neighbor, say something like this—
“Hi, my name is Amy, and I live right over there. I’m sorry, I don’t know your name. What is your name? Terry? Hi, Terry—it’s nice to formally meet you, neighbor. Merry Christmas!”
I have done this countless times, and I’ve lived to tell the tale! On the other side of those doors I’ve met the most amazing women who, once strangers, have now become my friends. A couple of times a year, I invite my neighbors to a simple Open House for coffee and conversation, and I welcome them to come back for Bible study called The Neighborhood Café. This has grown into an international ministry with women hosting Neighborhood Café Bible Studies in their homes from Alaska to California to Florida, and from Canada to Texas! I provide tools, tips and resources that equip you to love your neighbors—without being weird!—by developing natural relationships that lead to spiritual conversations.
One thing I’ve learned is that it’s easier to knock on my neighbors’ door with one hand if I’m holding a gift in the other. I take them a little gift—it doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. I’ve taken a single serving of coffee or a tea bag, a few pieces of hard candy tied up in a plastic bag, an artificial flower. You could give them a handmade snowflake or a Christmas card your children made. This year, I’m giving my neighbors a Christmas tree ornament with a tag that says, “Merry Christmas, from my home to yours.” Adorable and affordable ornaments can be purchased in bulk at craft stores and adorned with ribbons, glitter and floral stems. Visit the Neighborhood Café Freebies page to download free printable tags for your own neighborly gifts!
Please break the silence this Christmas, and offer your neighbors a cure for their loneliness.
Merry Christmas to you and your neighbors!
At The Neighborhood Café, Amy Lively candidly shares how she felt knocking on her neighbors’ doors while her knees knocked and tells about the friendships that now line the streets of her neighborhood. The Neighborhood Café Kit contains everything you need to host an Open House in your home, including invitations, a planning guide, follow up cards and a Macchiato Moments music CD to set the mood! Through her speaking and writing, Amy equips women to love their neighbors in a whole new way—without being weird!