Meet my friend, Amy Lively. Mix her gifts of hospitality and evangelism with a dash of courage and you have her passion and ministry, The Neighborhood Cafe. Enjoy Amy’s vulnerability as she shares a story of humility from the Cafe. ALSO, sign up for her generous GIVEAWAY (details below).
Scared but smiling, I knocked on Lisa’s door and invited her over for coffee—her, and 89 other neighbors. We had never met before, but I was finally caving in to a crazy idea to start a neighborhood Bible study. The fact that I didn’t know many of my neighbors didn’t seem to bother God, but it had caused me months of angst!
Our roles were reversed on the day of my Open House as Lisa knocked on my door—coffee mug in one hand and a Bible in the other. I called it the Neighborhood Café, and Lisa and I became friends as neighbors, friends, and women from church continued to gather together every other week in my living room.
Lisa’s quick wit wrapped in a disarming southern drawl cracked us up many a time. She laughed at herself first as she admitted her struggles. “Well, I don’t wanna do that. It’s too hard,” she would candidly reply as we talked about God’s advice for gracious living. As one of the older women in the group, the young moms appreciated been-there-done-that advice from this faithful mother, grandmother and widowed wife. As trust slowly took root, Lisa asked for prayer to help break vices and overcome loneliness. She began taking walks and sharing lunch with our neighbor, Belinda.
One night, I awoke from a deep sleep with the realization that I hadn’t seen Lisa for a few weeks. My thoughts returned to her in the morning as I verified that Lisa had missed the last two Neighborhood Cafés without calling as she usually did. A quick look at the prayer requests helped me remember our last conversation.
My heart sank as the scene replayed itself in slow motion in my mind.
With her endearing humility, Lisa had shared a troubling family situation—smiling at herself in bewilderment, she confessed how she wanted to handle it her way.
And then I, also with a grin, had unleashed a Bible verse to put her in her place.
God’s word is a weapon alright, and I had used it to wound her.
It doesn’t matter that she may have been wrong, and I may have been right. This perfect verse may indeed have spoken to her soul… if I had let the Holy Spirit whisper it in her ear. Instead, I aimed it at her like a missile.
She had been bravely honest, but I had been brutally honest.
It was much harder knocking on her door this time.
She invited me in. We made small talk for a few minutes. She showed me pictures from a recent trip. I steered the conversation around to the family situation that had been so heavy on her heart, took a deep breath and whispered a silent prayer.
“Lisa,” I said, “I’m sorry for the way I responded when you shared this at the Neighborhood Café. I understand how you feel, and how much this situation genuinely concerns you. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”
When she didn’t laugh it off—or look me in the eye—I thanked God for revealing to me exactly how I had built this wall between us.
But when she softly said, “It’s okay, Amy,” I thanked him for mending it.
“…[get out there and walk ] with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.” Ephesians 4:2-3 The Message
My adventure in loving my neighbors has taught me as much about my neighbors as it has about myself, but it’s taught me even more about God. He is faithful when I am not, He is capable when I am not, He is gracious when I am not. Lisa extended to me the same grace I wish I had extended to her. God once again had come behind me and swept up my mess, clearing the trail of destruction in my wake.
Are there any fences in your neighborhood you need help mending? Are there any walls in your relationships that need to be torn down? “Go and be reconciled to that person,” Jesus said in Matthew 5:24. Don’t worry, He’ll go with you.
Written by Amy Lively
Feel free to visit Amy at The Neighborhood Cafe. Today, she is giving away a Neighborhood Cafe Planning Guide and a package of Espresso Mini-Magazines and Leader’s Guide ($24 value). To register to win, leave a comment below. OR for those who would rather not comment, you can simply subscribe to Rivera’s blog! All entries must be in by Wednesday, March 20, at 2 pm EST. The winners will be announced on Thursday’s post.