Won’t You Be My Neighbor: Seeing Strangers

Hospitality, showing love and care for strangers, is often done in our homes over dinner, in conversations at work, or in our neighborhoods. However, when we’re running errands, having picnics, or sitting in traffic, we’re surrounded by strangers whom we frequently ignore.

Why settle for isolation? Why not reach for something more? If you’re like me, then your day is made better when someone smiles or demonstrates kindness. Let’s aim to engage the human beings who cross our paths. Here are two ways to increase the amount of human connection in the world and begin truly seeing the strangers surrounding you.

1. Look For Their Need

As I talked with my wife about writing this article, she began sharing story after story of strangers seeing her and helping in simple ways to show her love. We have four kids (so far!) and there have been many shopping trips when pregnant and trailing the other kids where someone has helped load or unload a cart and made a tremendous difference in her day.

Those strangers saw someone in need of their help and they gave it. That begins with an attitude of looking for a need. The next time you’re out running errands, take a glance around to see if you can spot someone in need of a helping hand. You can show hospitality in a real way with even a small gesture.

2. Look For Your Extra

At the First Saturday Market in June, our church hosted the inflatable jump zone – but the people we really were able to show kindness to were some of the other vendors. 

Some volunteers made food for our team members. Instead of letting the leftovers spoil in the sun, we, in a somewhat awkward fashion, went from booth to booth offering our extra sandwiches, cookies, and water to the other vendors. Some had brought their own, but quite a few hadn’t since this was their first market, and it turned out to be a great way to demonstrate that we loved them. All because we had extra.

So often our extra gets thrown out. It can be more work to repurpose something or to find a new owner than it is to simply get rid of it. It can be quite uncomfortable to offer someone your extra when they may turn you down. But when you examine your extra, you’ll often find that it perfectly fits someone else’s invisible need. This is a path towards true hospitality. Won’t you be my neighbor?

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