In every community, there is a hierarchy. There are always people who seem “cooler” (or who think they are cooler) and make it known. These people often congratulate each other publicly and get a lot of community recognition.
My neighborhood is a community, where most of us meet together regularly to worship. A few of them tend to get the most attention. However, I’d like to highlight today the quiet people who go about doing good and who deserve some public recognition. These are the people in my neighborhood. (All names are pseudonyms, and not everybody who deserves recognition has been mentioned in this post.)
Several years ago, when my oldest daughter was still suffering from allergies to eggs and milk, Donna was a constant source of information and support because her children had gone through the same thing. For a while, my daughter began breaking out in hives during church, and we thought it had something to do with what was on the pew or the carpet. Without us asking, Donna cleaned and sanitized a pew for us before church and blocked it off as “reserved.” We got there to find her and her work. I was touched by her care and action. My daughter still ended up breaking out in hives, but we finally figured out that she was allergic to the wool in the upholstery and the carpet. We learned to dress her with long sleeves and tights.
There’s a man whose name I do not know, but I’m touched by his dedication and love. Each morning, he goes out on the trail near our neighborhood and exercises. I used to pass him as I walked. Then, after I’d gone home and showered and headed out for the day, I would drive by the trail. He would be out there again, this time with his somewhat disabled wife, holding her up and helping her to walk the trail and get the exercise she needed to keep her body healthy and moving. This sight always brings tears to my eyes.
Teresa once wrote me a note telling me how much she appreciated something I had said at church. This made me feel special and came at a time when I needed some encouragement. I suspect that Teresa sends these sorts of notes regularly to those who need it.
Steve and Susan are busy parents of four. Susan works with disabled children and Steve stays home with their children. He is always out doing things for neighbors without being asked. If somebody needs a roof repaired, Steve is there first. If a lawn needs mowing, Steve is there. He and I have been carpooling our daughters to ballet. Once, my daughter ran out to get into his car for ballet, and mistakenly got into the wrong car! When he arrived, she was so embarrassed and emotional that she did not want to go anywhere, but I convinced her to go, and Steve cheered her up on the drive there with his goofy jokes and “crazy” (but safe and fun) driving. Susan is one of those people who is easy to talk to and who always does what she’s asked without complaint. She and Steve are smart and intelligent. When I’ve taught lessons that one or both of them have been in, they are attentive and ask interesting questions and give compliments at the end. They are wonderful people.
Miranda always tells me that I’m her favorite person; and I believe her! She is the principal of a large elementary school, and busy as can be, but she has always taken the time to listen to me when I’ve needed it. A few months ago, when I was dealing with some emotional struggles, she approached me to tell me that I had been on her mind and that if I needed to talk, she was willing to listen.
Linda is supportive of everybody. I used to teach lessons once a month to the adult women at my church, and Linda often made a point to tell me that I had done it well or to engage in conversation with me about some more difficult or taboo topics in a way that helped me to learn and grow and see that black and white thinking isn’t the way everybody reacts to every situation. She also takes dinner to people in need, even those with dietary restrictions, without complaining or without being asked to.
Sherry goes about doing good all of the time, and she does tend to get a lot of public praise, but her service isn’t self-congratulatory or meant to be public. She is just kind and genuine to everybody. She is a best friend to everybody. She has done countless kind acts for me over the years, but I will always remember vividly the support she gave me when I had my first baby. I sunk quickly into postpartum depression, and without her and another woman, I would not have had the help I needed, a community of support, or practical information about how to be a mother.
Anita is a gentle and kind person, who also happens to be as beautiful as any Hollywood actress. She once noticed my distress at a youth activity. I had been told by one of the “popular” adults in my neighborhood that my hair didn’t look good and that if she had hair like mine that was so thin, she would wear it short. She went on to tell me how she liked my hair best when I wore it a certain way and that I needed to stop wearing it in ways that she didn’t like. Well, this rude conversation reminded me of the emotional abuse I had suffered as a child and it set me off. Anita noticed my distress and spent an hour talking with me quietly and helping me to see that this other person had been wrong to be so unkind. Her gentle words and her willingness to listen soothed me.
Carrie has been a heroine of mine for quite some time now. She served as my daughter’s teacher at church several years ago, and when I gave birth to my youngest daughter, she brought over a special necklace for my older daughter and told her how important it was to be a good big sister. It was a wonderful moment in our lives. Recently, I found a black widow spider in our garage, and it was during a time when my husband was working a lot, so he was never home to see it. (I know. I’m a wimp.) So Carrie came over and killed the gigantic spider for me with a huge bunch of paper towels, and she didn’t even flinch.
These are some of the best people in my neighborhood. What does your neighborhood look like?