I freely admit that I have only read 3/4’s of the way through Loving My Actual Neighbor. This isn’t the result of lack of trying, rather a result of a busier than expected month. Alexandra Kuykendall has written a heart compelling treatise to help us love the neighbor who lives right next door.
What I am Reviewing
Loving My Actual Neighbor.
Reviewed for Nuts about Books.
Christianity, personal growth, spiritual growth, bible study
Seven chapters, plus and introduction and conclusion round out the pages of this 220 page book. Written in a personal tone, Alexandra walks us through what it means to love your neighbour, giving us practical helps along the way.
Chapter titles are
- Holding a posture of humility
- Asking questions to learn
- Being quiet to listen
- Standing in the awkward
- Accepting what is
- Lightening up
- Giving freely
Each chapter follows a similar format
- Quote along with bible verse
- Lesson with a personal story to illustrate the point
- A cut out to help you think more deeply
- A call to Saturday living
- Questions for Reflection
- Practicing the Practice
- Scripture to digest
Ms. Kuykendall shares freely from her personal life about things she has learned in meeting with her neighbours, and about how she has been challenged in her faith to be involved more deeply in their lives. It’s a hard push sometimes to be vulnerable, it’s hard sometimes to step into gaps and help others you are not as familar with, but it’s good and necessary.
“A neighborly life marinates in the Saturday life. Saturdays are for mowing the lawn, hanging out on the sports sidelines, and heading the grocery store. They are days of proximity, with natural interactions happening all around us. …… There is another element to Saturday living, a tension we hold as Jesus followers that is found most profoundly on Saturday — Holy Saturday, that is. We are people defined by the resurrection. … While we stand in the Friday pain of the world, we have the Sunday knowledge of the hope found in Christ. We are to operate out of both. This is Saturday living.” (p.21)
I found the questions for reflections to be well done. Challenging without being, I’m not sure of the right word, challenging without being wrong, or superficial or asked without meaning. Sometimes reflection questions just seem to be asked without regard for the reader. I didn’t find that to be so with this tome. Ms. Kuykendall really wants her readers to think hard about who are our neighbours are and what we need to do to truly be neighbours. We NEED to be neighbours who matter and try to touch the lives of those around us, impacting them for the Lord.
Once you have listened to the wisdom contained within these pages, scenarios to practice the skills you have been taught are provided. They followed the format of those I’ve shown below. One that I found to be a good reminder for me was “Stop and pay attention to the people you are serving. Let them interrupt you.” This is SO important. I find at the foodbank I can be very focused on organizing shelves that sometimes I forget about the people I am organizing the shelves for.
I admittedly like this book. I do have some hesitations.
- Some quotes are from books by people that I question their belief in God. I admit that sometimes a quote is just a quote, but I am cautious about giving the nod to someone who has some questionable beliefs/ideals.
- Often the practice scenarios seem devoid of any mention of God. It’s like “find a person and see if you can find a way to love them”. It’s all man done. I wish the each practice session had a distinct connection with God. Even “which of your neighbours are you led to pray for, or Pray for your most difficult neighbour asking God to help you love them, and then later on .. how can you show love to that unlovable neighbour?”
I love the focus on “how can we treasure our neighbours?” That challenge lies before me. How can I love the people that surround me? How can I let them know that they matter…not only to me but also to God?
Alexandra Kuykendall has done an great job at challenging me (and will challenge you) in how to show love, in an active meaningful way.
So go on… get out of the house. Live like Saturday is here now. Connect with your neighbours, learn to love them well. Show the heart of God.