Times have changed through the years for this Southern Belle. I live in a large neighborhood in a very quiet suburb of Birmingham, Alabama. I love living between my two neighbors. On each side, we are blessed with sweet little widows, and both are African American. I love to stand in my yard and chat with them.
One night as I was walking, I passed my neighbor’s home, and noticed her car engine was running while the car was in the garage, yet no one was in the car. I assumed she was about to leave. After walking three miles, I returned home, and noticed that the car was still running and no one was in it. I knew that was not normal for my neighbor. I went to my Vestee’s door to check on her. It took me a while to get her to the door, but she was so glad I did. The car had not been driven in a while, and she went out to start it so that the engine could run, but she forgot about the car.
We exchanged phone numbers that day, and I told her to also give my number to her daughter, in case they needed me to check on her.
I also love talking with the neighbor on the other side. Betty is a talker! We can go on for a very long time. I had not seen Betty outside in a while, so I expressed concern to my husband. “This is just not like Betty. I know something is wrong, or she is gone away.” Finally, I saw Betty one day, and I knew immediately she was fighting for her life. Betty has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We have talked, and she knows I am praying for her. I have sent her a card, and I want to visit when she is up to it.
This might not seem like a big deal to most, but it is to me
As a child growing up in the south, I saw a lot of social unrest. (I know it was in other areas as well, so let’s not get sidetracked.) My first time of experiencing integration was when I was in the seventh grade, and I was twelve years old. As I look back now, I realize much of what happened, happened because we were raised in environments where we learned to judge people from the outside, not the inside. I certainly don’t defend that position, but at that time, that’s what we knew.
Thank God, I learned better, and raised children who were taught better!
God’s word shows us how Jesus dealt with the issue of judging folks from the outside. In fact, Jesus literally walked right into the issue when He dared to minister to the woman at the well. Simply because she was a Samaritan, she would have been thought of as “less than” by the Jews of her day. Samaritans were originally Jews, but later intermarried with Gentiles. The intermarriage created a mixed race, and the “pure” Jew hated them.
The animosity between the two groups was so great that the Jews would bypass Samaria as they traveled between Galilee and Judea. They took a longer route in order to avoid going through Samaria. Jesus could not make everyone else do the right thing, but He could do the right thing.
My heart is saddened as I see race relations in this country taking a big step backwards. I know it’s not a popular subject to discuss, but it needs to be discussed. There’s a lot of anger out there. I find it sad how quickly we point the finger at each other, calling one another racists. I refuse to be drawn into that! Like Jesus, I can’t make anyone else do the right thing, but I can do the right thing. I am going to treat people as people. I don’t care if they are brown, black, white or mixed. I refuse to take a step backwards, even if others choose that path.
I love my two neighbors. All of three of us are old enough to remember the “bad” days, and all three of us remember when being neighbors would have been impossible. Now, we laugh together, cry together, pray for each other and lean on one another. I am here for them.
I refuse to sign-up or be drafted as a soldier in the war on people. Others might, but I choose not to be in that army.
Christian love is a bridge, not a hedge.
Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean.” – Acts 10:28