A Mailbox Friend

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31)

In my neighborhood in my young teenage years, whenever anybody had a crisis (and there were SO many of them), we would meet at the corner mailbox, sit on the curb, and talk. It was usually boyfriend/girlfriend angst and fairly dramatic. Most times it was a girl and a guy talking things through – listening intently and sometimes offering advice – sometimes there were tears. One of my frequent mailbox counseling sessions was with one of my guy classmates. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we were all trying to be good neighbors to each other. After graduating from high school, we all went in different directions, but I still treasure the memory of those curbside chats.

Our current culture would consider one’s neighbor as being someone who lives nearby – in the vicinity of where one lives. The Old English version of the word actually means “near dweller.” And although Jesus would soon present a broader concept of the term, I imagine He would tell us we ARE to love the neighbor who lives nearby.

In the 21st century, it’s sometimes a challenge to even know our neighbors’ names – much less be a mailbox friend to them. We pull into our driveway, hit the garage door opener, go in the house, get busy and interact with nobody outside the home. If we’re not careful, we can go for years without knowing much of anything about our actual neighborhood neighbors! 

My thinking is that we need to be a bit more intentional about being neighborly – perhaps making a phone call just to check up on them, maybe taking them half of that pot of soup your family just made, maybe sharing some tip about a good handyman, maybe inviting them to in-person or online church, maybe offering to pray for them (and then doing it). We’ll never know our neighbors’ needs until we share some of ourselves with them.

When we were in our early 40’s, I got word that my childhood friend committed suicide. As I thought about him as a grownup, I thought to myself, “He must not have had a mailbox friend.” And then I thought about my life today – who needs me to be their mailbox friend? Who needs me to be a good neighbor? Who needs YOU to be a good neighbor?

By Judy Shrout

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