I’ve been falling in love with daily walks and the way the rhythm of my feet moves my heart to the rhythm of prayer. And by prayer, I mean just a conversation with Jesus.
I talk to Him about the topic of a podcast I’ve just listened to or about the beauty I’m noticing around me — sunlight streaming through oak trees or a slight breeze waving the fronds of California palms. As my feet move along sunny sidewalks and down narrow paths, I tell Jesus what’s on my mind, ask Him questions, and wait for His reply.
It was during one of these conversations that I told Jesus I want to experience more of Him this year. I desire to understand His love for me – and for others – more fully. I want to be fully aware of His ways and His workings. I didn’t have an immediate revelation or hear an audible voice speaking back to me. But I knew Jesus was with me. And it was enough to just be with Him.
As I was nearing the end of my walk, a neighbor came to mind, a mom who lived around the corner from us. With the morning sun warm on my face, I heard in my spirit, Stop and talk to her. And tell her that I love her.
Now understand, the woman who had popped into my thoughts was nice and friendly — but we weren’t friends. We had waved hello and made small talk. But all I really knew about her was that her family had moved from another state a couple years back and she had five kids. In my book, that’s the kind of person you chat with in the driveway, not the kind whose doorbell you ring mid-morning for no real reason other than to say, “God told me to tell you He loves you.”
So the internal uncertainty began. Did Jesus really say that? Was that my own voice? Am I just trying to manifest my own “Jesus experience”?
As I wrestled with my thoughts and asked God to bring clarity to my mind, here’s what I realized:
It actually didn’t matter whether Jesus specifically told me to stop and talk to this neighbor or not. Because He had already said it in the past. To me. To you. To all of us. “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 13:34).
My heart thumped a bit faster. Did I feel awkward ringing someone’s doorbell without an obvious reason to be there? Yep! Was I also aware that this woman and her family seemed to be firmly established in a different set of religious beliefs than I was? Uh-huh.
But here’s the deal: Awkwardness and differences are not reasons to ignore Jesus.
And Jesus said again, “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Rounding the final bend before reaching my neighbor’s house, I considered the many ways Jesus loves me. He loves me with compassion. He loves me with truth, discernment, provision, joy, and peace. But at the top of my list? He loves me with His presence. Just being together, knowing He is available, attentive, and interested in what concerns me – yes, that’s one of the deepest ways I know His love.
Yes, I can love someone else in that same way.
I took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. The husband answered and invited me in. His wife sat at the kitchen table feeding the baby his morning cereal. She apologized for the state of her hair and clothes and home while offering me a seat at the table.
“I was on my way home from a walk,” I explained, “and I thought of you. So, I decided to just stop by and say hello.”
Simple. Honest. And she was genuinely happy I did.
We spent the next thirty minutes chatting about holiday travels and kids starting sports soon. I made silly faces at her smiley one-year-old and rolled a slobbery ball (his saliva, not mine) back and forth across the table. I asked her what it’s been like to live far away from family and if California feels like home yet. I told her about my job and how much I love our recent weather. She shared about the gift of her church and how she likes listening to uplifting podcasts. It was the simple beginning of what I hope to be a new friendship.
When I stood up to leave, I hugged the mama with the messy bun and baby on her hip, and she sincerely thanked me for stopping by.
“Well, thank you for letting me intrude on your day,” I said. “It was so great to hang out for a bit and get to know you better.” Then I took a deep breath and added, “Also, as I was walking, I felt like God wanted me to tell you that He loves. He sees you and is with you, right now.”
She hugged me again. “Thank you. I really needed to hear that today.”
Dear sister, maybe you need those words today too.
God loves you. He sees you. He is with you right now.
Or maybe you need the reminder that it’s always the right time to love someone the way God is so good at loving you. Don’t let uncertainty or awkwardness or perceived differences keep you from a simple step of love.