My washing machine broke down a little while ago, and as I considered my options, I received a text from a neighbor asking if I needed help. I was surprised – not that they asked, but that they knew that I had a problem. I hadn’t actively talked about it, mainly to one or two people nearby. They heard it through the grapevine and asked if they could help in some way. That’s what great neighbors do. They’re concerned and look for ways to assist in any way that they can. I am very grateful for my neighbors.
Another great neighbor that I have live next door: the Baxters. I have known them since we moved in the neighborhood five years ago. I’ve always hit it off well with the father of the household, Rob. He was the one that got me interested in donating plasma and I’ve spent time in their home. A few weeks ago, he noticed that the bushes at the end of my driveway needed trimming – they were smacking the car – and he offered to trim them, as he was already doing yardwork. Good neighbors are like that – going the extra mile for another person. I’m lucky to live next to him.
It’s not that good neighbors are hard to find, but that each person has to be a good neighbor. Reciprocation is an important part of any relationship. Stephen Covey talked about how people have emotional bank accounts with one another. When we ask a person to do something for us, we are making a withdrawal out of that account. If you make too many withdrawals, then the relationship suffers. You have to make deposits too. There is a give and take to any relationship. If the other person feels that you are only taking, then they stop giving. It’s just part of our nature. When we serve each other, we strengthen the bonds that we feel for each other.
That isn’t always the cause, though. I have a neighbor that’s gone through multiple back surgeries and isn’t able to take care of his lawn like he used to. I talked to my son and my son agreed to mow and landscape his lawn. This neighbor, the Davies family, isn’t able to return the favor, as his injury keeps him from much of the activities that he is used to, but that is alright. Everyone has times in their life when they need to receive more than they can give. There is an ebb and flow to life and we need to be prepared for that. We give when we can and we receive when we need it. I think an important part of receiving is to be grateful for it and not take it for granted. To take without being grateful is a major withdrawal from the emotional bank account and we can bankrupt that account if we aren’t careful.
We are living in times of greater stress and difficulty than ever. We need the bonds of friendship and service to get through these trying events. Having great neighbors and being a great neighbor is a key to getting through these times.