Loving Thy Neighbor

By Jenny Dendinger

During our daily bike rides, we make sure to smile and wave as we pass our neighbors. Occasionally, we stop and visit for a few minutes while bonding over a pet.  Friendly animals always make good icebreakers! 

One day, while loving on his dog, Suzy, our neighbor asked, “Am I right to assume that you are a praying woman?”

I smiled and confirmed his suspicions and then asked if he needed me to pray for him. Relieved that he’d guessed correctly, he offered me his intention.  As our conversation evolved, we joyfully discovered that we were both Catholic which seemed to instantly connect us in a whole new and meaningful way. 

Over the last year, our friendship with the man and his wife has really blossomed. We have unofficially adopted them into our family as an extra set of grandparents, and we enjoy visits with them at least once or twice a week. As soon as my kids spot them outside, they speed ahead, always eager to be the first to say hello. The kids happily talk their ear off with stories, and the adults exchange updates and prayer requests during the rare breaks in between. 

Recently, as we were hugging goodbye, my sweet friend squeezed me tightly and whispered, “Thank you for sharing your family with us.” 

The small, simple act of saying hello planted a seed and encouraged the growth of what is now a beautiful friendship.  We rarely have anything extraordinary to talk about, but that has never seemed to matter. 

The important part, the thing that does matter, is simply acknowledging that all of our lives are significant. We are all a gift, even if we don’t feel like we have anything special or particularly important to share. We don’t have to be the same age or the same race or the same faith to connect with one another.  We only need to reach out with love.

My life is a gift, and your life is a gift. When we take the time to acknowledge that with one another, we give God the opportunity to bless us with meaningful moments and beautiful friendships. 

I delight in knowing that my kids have almost as many adult friends as they do children their own age. Their love truly knows no bounds. I hope and pray that they will always love this way, respecting life at every stage and sharing their hearts with anyone willing to do the same.

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