One of the most frequently asked questions we hear before buying a house is “How are the neighbors?” Neighbors are important to families, and everyone loves to have a good neighbor to depend on in a crisis. But by the same token we also have to remember to be a good neighbor.
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes mistakenly called the “Mormon Church,” being a good neighbor is taking on godly characteristics towards other people. Kindness, patience, courage, honesty, and more are traits we can incorporate into our lives to be a good neighbor. From Thomas S. Monson’s First Presidency message in the August, 2012 Ensign, he writes:
With the parable of the good Samaritan, the Master taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves. With His answer to the rich young ruler, He taught us to shed our selfishness. With the feeding of the 5,000, He taught us to see to the needs of others. And with the Sermon on the Mount, He taught us to seek first the kingdom of God.
As keepers of our families, we are all strapped for time. Many people work hard all day and have other pressing matters which make it difficult to visit with each other as we did in past times. Taking a few moments to get to know those who are your neighbors is always a good idea, wherever you live. It will not only aid in helping each other in times of disaster but it will also give us a sense of community and the feeling that we all belong to each other.
There are many inspiring stories of people working together in neighborhoods to clean up the trash or kick out crime and they are great examples to us. It’s difficult to break the ice sometimes with strangers but in the long run there are blessings to having friendly neighbors and being a friendly neighbor.
For example, from the March 2002 Reader’s Digest’s Every Day Heroes, there was a great story of a woman who cleaned up a neighborhood of drug addicts and gangs. Cordelia Taylor had worked hard to be a nurse after raising eight children, but couldn’t do what she wanted in the nursing home where she was hired, so her husband encouraged her to start her own. She bought an old house to renovate in her old neighborhood and called it “The Family House.” It was a great idea, but she had drug addicts, shootings and gangs to contend with. With the help of the police, slowly but surely she managed to clean up the neighborhood and buy more houses to renovate into nursing homes. It is inspiring to read of someone with enough courage to chase off these criminals and clean up the neighborhood.
There are also many great examples of courage and unselfishness from people in natural disasters and how they didn’t even know who their neighbors were until an earthquake, tornado, or flood came upon them.
A great example of this is from the recent disaster in the New England area of our country. Hurricane Sandy came whipping through the North Atlantic states with a fury and damaged many homes, leaving many without power. On top of all that a major winter storm followed 10 days later. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wearing Mormon Helping Hands vests loaded up on buses to help whoever they could find to clean up their homes regardless of social status or neighborhood. After starting the project to clean up homes and streets; neighbors came out of their own homes to help along with the Mormon Helping Hands as well. Many lives in neighborhoods all over New York and New Jersey were blessed by these people and their own neighbors reaching out to help.
It takes a little courage to introduce yourself to your neighbor. It takes is a little initiative to lend them a hand, even when they don’t ask for it, or invite them to dinner, even though they didn’t invite you first. But if you try, the rewards are great. Getting to know your neighbors should be even easier than making friends at work because of the closeness of distance where everyone lives. Let’s not be strangers to our neighbors next door and remember what it feels like to have a good neighbor. Your family will be blessed by it.
This article was written by Valerie Steimle, a member of The Church of jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Valerie Steimle is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormon” woman). She has been writing as a family advocate for the past 20 years. She is the mother of nine children living in southern Alabama and is the author of four books and a weekly newspaper column, Thoughts from the Heart.