Just thought I'd warn you: Some of you will hate this post.
Probably twenty years ago I sat thinking one day that no matter where Tom and I moved we always seemed to have the same type of neighbors. Stand-offish. No one even close to Lucy-and-Ethel-types who just dropped by. People who barely looked at us, waved or spoke to us. And we moved a lot so we're talking a lot of unfriendly neighbors.
Then I read something in a book which--at first--majorly bugged me. It was a little story of how Man #1 (let's call him) moved his family to a new town and the next day, Man #2 came and greeted him outside his home.
"So how do you like our town?" Man #2 asked.
"Well, so far we like it. We're hoping it will have friendlier people than in our last town. Our neighbors weren't very friendly, hardly spoke to us, and we spent years saving up to move away to someplace with friendlier people."
Man #2 replied, "Oh really? Well, I expect you'll find the very same type of unfriendly folks here."
"What?!" Man #1 exclaimed.
"Yes, people are generally the same wherever you go. What matters is how you treat them. That's what makes for good neighbors."
Ack! I so did not want to hear that, for of course, it's always easiest to blame other people for any unkindness. Yet you know? The more I thought about that little story, the more I realized that no matter which house Tom and I moved to, always we brought along our shy, stand-offish, wait-until-the-other-person-acts-kindly-first selves. We were always the same so, well, could that be why the neighbors always appeared to be the same sorts of people?
Sigh. Who likes to accept that sort of blame? Well, I've found that people who wish to grow-up and see good days (and a good life) do. So afterward, wherever we moved, I began to treat our neighbors differently. I waved more often, spoke more often, etc.-- and wow, poof! Instant friendly neighbors. Imagine that.
You take you with you wherever you go, you know. And people react accordingly. I mean, take Facebook, for instance. Lately, three or four dear old friends have told me that Facebook feels impersonal and they aren't into it. Facebook isn't personal? Oh my. You know how we can send one-on-one messages there? Well, I've received some of the kindest, most encouraging, most personal messages ever there at Facebook 'behind the scenes.' But then, I've also sent those kinds of messages, too.
And even on the more public home page I've read some of the most personal requests for prayer from dear old friends. And I've seen words of love and friendship exchanged between buddies who are so grateful to be reunited after whole decades, or even just sweet, thoughtful banter between young friends in their 20's or 30's. And I've received many encouraging responses to my silly and sometimes serious remarks and felt warmly connected to other living, breathing, loving souls. But only as I connect with them.
I take me with me wherever I go. I also reap what I sow--oh my, I so do, for good or for bad. And what I'm finding is that the way people treat me is not really because of who they are, but rather, because of who I am to them and how I make them feel, personally.
"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve." ... Albert Schweitzer
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." ... Luke 6:31