The Good Neighbor

I can’t think of any better way to welcome today’s guest of honor than to serve wine and lots of it.  And Nachos.  For, those are the refreshments Alexa and I bonded over at Bloggy Boot Camp in Charlotte last month. One of the best parts of attending BBC was getting to meet so many wonderful bloggers in real life, and Alexa is just as delightful in person as she is on her blog No Holding Back. I can really relate to the story she tells below.  Can you?  

I have not been a good friend the past few years.

Self absorbed and mired in the fog that nearly drowned me after I lost one of my infant twin daughters, I have barely been able to keep clean underwear on myself and my kids, let alone take care of anyone outside of my home.

However, the air is starting to clear, I am rebounding and starting to feel as if I have a semblance of a handle life with three kids ages 6, 3, and 18 months. As the fog clears out, I’m realizing that I have failed my loved ones miserably over the past two years.

It took a week as a volunteer at Vacation Bible School for me to see this.

I had the joy of being the traveling story teller to the preschool classes. Each day I traveled around and visited the toddler room and two each of three year old and four year old classes.

I read them stories out of the Bible.  Some were so complex that my partner story teller and I resorted to acting out simplified versions with puppets. This turned out a little bizarre one day as we told the story of the Good Samaritan and my partner beat one of the puppets with a stick, causing some of the children to cry!! But overall, the children enjoyed story time.

We sang songs, we learned key scriptures and “friendship phrases,” and we learned the big picture message.

An overall theme of the week that was so simple.

Be a good neighbor.  To all people.

Near, far, of different cultures, of different races and religions, of different political backgrounds, and even, as I explained to the kids, even to people who might take your toys and not share.

The Golden Rule.

Do Unto Others

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Whoa. This message was not new to me, but this might be the first week that I really thought about what that meant and if I lived up to it.

So simple, yet so often abused.

It is taught to us from the time we are two years old in our very first Vacation Bible School, yet it so hard to follow.

Especially when we are burdened by our own pains, our own losses, our own needs.

As I told the stories to the children and thought about the daily messages (“God loves a cheerful giver!” “God wants us to love all people!” “God wants us to be bold by doing the right thing even when it’s not the popular choice!” and so forth) I realized that I was falling very short of the “simple” lessons we were trying to pass along to the children.

I’m not going to be completely Debby Downer. I like to think I am a cheerful giver. I love philanthropy and supporting worthy causes and giving to those who have less. I love connecting with other like minded philanthropists, such as Jennifer at Another Jennifer and taking care of those who are less fortunate.

However, as I listened to our Pastor speak of the Golden Rule Rule – Do Unto Others as we would Have them Do Unto Us – I realized so clearly that I have been draining time, love, energy, and gifts from those around me without returning it in equal shares.

I try to give of myself by being a positive resource to those who have lost babies and children as well as to those who have struggled through Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS).  I hope to help people understand the grief of losing an infant, and how to respond to them.

I give of my time and energy to pour over the blogs of my blogging buddies and support them in their endeavors.

But I have not called any of my friends in months. I have not read my friends’ personal blogs. I have not sent cards, asked them how they are doing, done a random act of kindness for friends or family members.

Yet, these are the things that I expect from them.

I want to be the kind of friend, spouse, mother, neighbor that I would like to have in return.

I want to treat people the way that I expect to be treated.

The good news is that it’s never too late to start!

Are you a good neighbor?

Bigwarfe_029

~Alexa B. is the mother of four beautiful children, three on earth and one in Heaven.  She blogs under the name Kat Biggie at “No Holding Back” primarily focused on finding joy after grief of the loss of one of her twins, but also about raising three small children as a Stay at Home Mom.  A major focus is on bringing more awareness to TTTS, and providing hope to other grieving mothers.  She can also be followed on Facebook and Twitter (@katbiggie)


Comments

The Good Neighbor — 45 Comments

    • Thank you ladies! I appreciate the kind words, and I am so glad we met. In fact, my sister is moving to Charlotte soon, and I was thinking about seeing if you’d like to get together sometime?? 🙂
      Alexa recently posted…Fierce DivaMy Profile

  1. Such a beautiful reminder of a simple concept that can be so hard to do. Sounds like you have had your share of things to deal with the last little while, so even though you feel you feel you haven’t been a good neighbour, sometimes being a good neighbour is simply accepting the support of those around you and drawing on them for a little while.
    Leah Davidson recently posted…Happy 5th AnniversaryMy Profile

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  3. I find myself asking my kids “How would you feel if someone did that to you?” when I’m trying to teach them a lesson. But how often do we ask ourselves this question? Do Unto Others is a simple rule we all want to follow, but it’s easy to get caught up in life and forget. As you said, it’s never too late to start. Sometimes we have to do a few makeup acts of kindness!

    I’ve said this before, but I think you’re a great philanthropist and advocate, Alexa. So glad we connected. I hope the three of us can meet IRL and drink wine together some time!
    another jennifer recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: Festival Season, MaineMy Profile

    • We will make it happen Jennifer! It may not be for awhile (tough with little ones) unless you can manage to get down to NC! 😉 But we will make it happen!

  4. I so try my best Alexa and seriously I too have my moments where I wonder if I am doing my best with my friends and family in my life. I think all we can do is out best and sometimes we do make mistakes, but learning from them and trying to do it over is what it is all about I suppose. Thank you for sharing and by the way, I think you are a wonderful friend and just so blessed and happy we are just that, friends!! 🙂
    Janine Huldie recently posted…Mommy TMI with More Than Mommies: Vlog Week #1My Profile

  5. It is the simple lessons that are often the most profound, aren’t they? From childhood and into adulthood, there is always something to learn from them. At times we may take more then we give, but I think those times shift to phases of more giving, too. That’s what friends and neighbours do for each other. And, like you, I think that it is never too late to start. 🙂
    Kim recently posted…Not Quite a Time LordMy Profile

  6. Sometimes it is the lessons or mottos or quotes that seem so simple but they’re not as easy to carry out as we’d think. And these are the same lessons or mottos or quotes that stay strong through the years. It never stops being important to learn and I don’t think it’s ever too late.

    So nice to see you here. I’ve seen you and your blog around mutual blogger friends and I’ve always wanted to read more. I’m glad I did.
    Tamara recently posted…It’s a Flood or It’s a Drought.My Profile

    • Thank you Tamara! That is a really nice thing to say! I’ll definitely be heading over to your blog as well. I think my favorite bloggers are those that I have followed from mutual blogs!

  7. I can’t say honestly that I’ve been the best friend I could be to my friends that aren’t in a 30 mile radius. I give to organizations all of the world to help people but sometimes I don’t put the friends that are close to me in the giving basket. Thanks for the reminder.

    • I do the same thing. Give, give, give to strangers, yet when was the last time I sent a friend the love filled type care packages that I send to strangers when they have suffered a loss? I started thinking about that and feeling REALLY guilty! Guess what my project will be in the upcoming weeks?? 🙂

  8. Sometimes they are such simple mottos and quotes, but a bit hard to remember to live by. I try my best to live by this, and when I do I feel much better. I am only human though, so I know I can still work on this at times.
    Kimberly recently posted…Focusing On TodayMy Profile

    • Yes, I feel better too when I’m doing kind things. If I can just pull myself away from my computer to do a few more of the things I “intend” to do!

  9. Alexa, thank you for sharing such an honest self reflection with us. I think we can all use this reminder every now and then. But I agree with Christie. You deserve time to grieve and heal and be a little selfish. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It sounds like you have been a wonderful neighbor to others in need!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted…Quest for the Perfect Sports BraMy Profile

  10. Ah yes… you KNOW I talk a lot about this very message on my blog!!! Here’s the thing- there are seasons in everyone’s life where receiving is the blessing they need most when they are weak. There will come a new season (you are perhaps entering now with your growing strength and awareness) where YOU will be the giver… to those in need. The ebb and glow is Divine. I truly believe God designed this beautiful reciprocity… I live it daily. Giving…receiving….giving…receiving… through the seasons of our lives!!!

    • Chris you are such a kind and loving woman! And yes, you do share this message, along with so many other messages that encourage me and refresh me! xoxo

  11. What an important message to share, and one we all need to be reminded of from time to time. I know I could be doing so much more, and I want to – I just need to find a balance. It is definitely a work in progress. In the year that I have followed your story, I would say you are giving so much. You have likely served as model of strength to so many – and you don’t even know it. Be kind to yourself and be patient. You deserve that. Thanks for the words of inspiration. 🙂
    Kerry recently posted…I Always Welcome Newbies to the Working Mom ClubMy Profile

    • You are so sweet! That brought tears to my eyes! Thank you. Sometimes kind words and words of encouragement are the best gift you can offer to someone! And if I was working full time with my 3 little ones at home, I wouldn’t be doing anything for anybody else! You need a friend to help take care of YOU! 🙂
      Alexa recently posted…Fierce DivaMy Profile

    • Since I have met you in person, I can say that I imagine you are a very giving person. You were so sweet and kind to me from the instant that we met at BBC!

  12. I’m going to ask you to not be so hard on yourself. Because you would forgive easily any friend who behaved this way. I can tell. Life is full of ebb and flow. Sometimes we are so used to be fortunate enough to be there for everyone that we fail to realize the value of needing people to be there for us. Let them do for you, let them take care of you. Because when the time comes, and those times come for all of us, you will be able to be there for them, carry extra load, and take care of them.

    You sound like me – you are great at giving, but you don’t know how to let others do the giving if you are the taker. It’s not supposed to be always equal. It will all even out.

    It’s exactly the golden rule – and sometimes you have to be the one who takes the extra, who can’t give it back exactly then, the one who needs to have others fill her cup. That’s perfectly okay. The real trick is learning to do so gracefully. If you figure out that part please email me with the secret.
    tammigirl recently posted…I Hate to Damage the Psyche of a Good ChairMy Profile

    • That is a very uplifting and kind response. I appreciate the reminder of accepting as well! And I will be sure to tell you if I figure out how to do that (or anything for that matter!) gracefully!

  13. Thanks for sharing your story, Alexa.

    You are right about this being so easy to say and yet, so much harder to do. Walking that talk is what makes us better people. I do believe, however, there are times we are meant to help carry one another through those tough times with no thought of reciprocity.

    I was just thinking about this topic this week, and how I am falling down. Your post is really the cherry on top of those thoughts.
    It’s good to hear that others are hit with insights at church, too. Can’t count the number of times I’ve been sure the pastor is speaking directly to me. :-O
    Kim recently posted…Three Ideas to Help Guide You to the Right DecisionMy Profile

  14. We are doing that same VBS at our church this week. I find myself being challenged daily as I try to impress the theme of the day upon the kids. I think that is one of the reasons I love volunteering so much. It is just as meaningful for me as it is for them! Peace to you on your journey!
    Rabia @ TheLiebers recently posted…Summer StylesMy Profile

  15. I think I’m a good neighbor, but it’s my children and husband that suffer. They get what’s left of me – the remnant. I hope our upcoming vacation will give us all a new breath of air.
    Lady Jennie recently posted…Fais Gaffe!My Profile

  16. This is a great post and reminder. I do think that there’s a ebb and flow to life and to friendships. It’s not always going to be equal but that it’s a give and take for the most part. I know that I haven’t been the best neighbor lately but you’re right – it’s never too late to change. Thank you Alexa for the reminder and so lovely to meet you!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Friday Round-Up: Striving for Your DreamsMy Profile

  17. Beautiful post, and so honest! It’s easy to forget the most basic principles, especially when we’re caught up in our own lives. I know I’ve been guilty of this. I recently went through an episode with a good friend who I felt wasn’t being as supportive of me as I was of her. It took some time for me to realize that both of us were going through separate but equally intense journeys and I needed to let go of judgement and trust our bond. I imagine the same can be said for your friends and loved ones. The great thing is that we’re given these reminders in the most unexpected ways (like your bible camp) and it nudges us to gain clarity and choose differently. Love your message here! 🙂
    Maribel recently posted…Is Obesity a Disease?My Profile

  18. Two of my faves in one spot. Love! I can relate to this so much right now. I am so consumed with busy-ness that I haven’t been a good neighbor…heck, I haven’t even been a good blog/writer/reader. I need to let this message soak in. I need to “do unto others”.
    AnnMarie recently posted…Wisconsin Dells 2013My Profile

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