Feb 24, 2009

Love Thy Neighbor.

Last week I had a post dedicated to the fact that the AG and I are packing up the family band and moving back to Texas. It's not an easy decision, but one that was prayerfully considered and is now looked at with great expectation.

Just ask Remi. I told her we were moving to Texas to which she replied, "How about the zoo?" Which I can tell you doesn't mean "how about we move to the zoo" but rather, "how about you take me to the zoo and quit your yappin'."

Some of you were so kind to email me, leave me a post, give me a call or just throw an arm around my neck at church. Thank you. Others of you didn't do any of the above even though we've known each other for a coon's age. That's okay...as my Granny so famously says, "Don't make no difference to me - we're all gonna go to heaven happy." Amen.

One of the things I wrote about in that post was this...

And one more thing...would you pray specifically for this? About twelve miles from my house here in TN is a beautiful cemetery that holds the memory of our son. The thought of moving 700 miles away from it makes me physically sick. I cannot imagine how I will feel the day I drive away as I can barely stand to think of it over 10 seconds at a time now. I could use some special comfort in this area. God is good, I know this.

Now, I'll tell you right now - I have never been much for the "victim" mentality. And by that I mean I've never been big on poor, poor, pitiful me. I share my grievances and the depth of my heartbreak with very few people. So for me to write those words last week were quite a big deal for me. The reason being is that the pain of knowing I am leaving that grave has racked me with both guilt and absolute panic. What may seem silly to you makes me physically sick. I cannot fathom the moment that we load up in the car and pull out of town. And it will not be because of the friends we've made or the church we call home (though leaving those things can hurt a bit, too).

It's because as of now I have the ability to go stand beside something every time it snows...to check on him...to make sure it's not too cold.

It's because, if I want to, I can drive by there on a Tuesday afternoon with an ice cream cone and tell him how beautiful the weather is and something funny Remi said.

It's because every time there is a thunderstorm I go the next day to make sure his flowers are okay - and there are no leaves on his headstone.

It's because whenever I get the notion I put Rocco in the car and take him up there and tell him all about his big brother who is patiently waiting to play some flag football in heaven.

Those are the things that will make leaving beyond painful.

I suppose all of us, if we were honest, could agree that there are those scriptures that we've heard a thousand times over. And they still. Mean. Nothing. Not because we don't count them important - we do. But because we've never had to apply them. Only when words become tangible do words truly become meaningful. When words come alive they make their biggest change.

For instance, remember this one?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 19)

Two days after I wrote the post on us moving I received an email. It was from a former neighbor of mine. I don't go to church with her, I never see her in the grocery store, our children don't attend the same schools and our husbands don't work together. She was my neighbor years ago - later she became my friend. And it was her email that said this...

I want you to know that the first thing that came to my mind when I read the first sentence that you were leaving was having to leave Elisha. I know that is breaking your heart to move away from him. Please know that for some reason that feels more powerful than just sympathy for a friend, you, David and Elisha are never far from my mind. I am so thankful for the blessing of Remi and Rocco in your lives. I know we are not best friends but I feel that God is calling me to offer this to you – I would be honored to do whatever you wished concerning Elisha in your place. I don’t know how often you visit his grave or place flowers or talk to him there, but if you would like to know that someone is caring for him here I would be more than willing to do that for you both.

My neighbor showed me love. My neighbor offered to do for me what I cannot do for myself. My neighbor.

Last night, I received this email...

It would be a great honor if you want me to visit Elisha's grave as often as you'd like to check on things. In a small way, it would be like I'm doing it for her (my mother-in-law who has passed away), too. But ONLY if you really want, and ONLY if you REALLY, REALLY want me to.
I go to church with her. I'm not sure what service she goes to for we rarely ever see each other. She doesn't know my husband's name and I don't know hers. We've never been to each other's house, never shared sweet tea on my porch. She was just a willing servant. Someone who offered to give a hand to someone who needed it. She doesn't owe me that courtesy, and goodness knows I'm undeserving, but the love she has for the Lord supersedes my need or her convenience.

That, my lovelies, is how you love a neighbor.

There's something else you can say about "neighbors" like this - you dare not tell their names because they are rarely ever in it for the recognition. "Neighbors" like this give when no one is looking, serve when no one knows and love when no one is counting. "Neighbors" like this are few and far between. And yet they are God's best weapon. I know He must be beyond pleased at their obedience.

One of them told me in their email that they feared I might find their request "odd." Odd? Really? Remember this, friends, what you may find as odd - someone else might find as oil.

Soothing, healing oil.

And just so you two "neighbors" know...I would be more honored and feel more loved to have the two of you check on my boy than to have 50 people I might have had to ask.

Thank you for all the oil.



StitchinByTheLake said...

I cannot tell you how this post has touched me Melissa. To know God's will is such a blessing, but then to act on it, well that's God's grace. Your two friends/neighbors are the physical manifestation of God's grace. Oh that I would be like them and hear His call and respond to it, even if I think it feels odd. blessings, marlene

Melissa said...

Ok, this really blew me away because I had already been forming a comment to leave you when I read your post today. Even before I got to the bottom, as I was reading what you wrote about Elisha'a grave, I thought, "I should tell her I could go every so often and check on him." And then, boom! there were 2 more people wanting to do the same thing. So before you think I am being a copy cat, know that I truly did have that thought before I even read theirs.

I will save my other comments for another day. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you...find me at my blog!


Amy said...

Bless them for not being afraid of "not being enough" for Elisha...They are true hearers of His voice, and I aspire to be such when I grow up a little more.

My tears fall this morning as I long to used to touch others in that way!
Thank you for sharing...I am touched and changed!


Carrie said...

Wow, Melissa, that's wonderful that your neighbors would do that for you.

And don't EVER think that what you're feeling about leaving your little boy is silly. I know I would feel the exact same way.

Melissa said...

Beautiful. Your words. Their love. The body of Christ.

My heart truly aches for you in the thought of having to move away from Elisha.

Your blog and your friendship are oil to me. You bless me, Melissa.

Sheri said...

What amazing friends to listen to the promptings they were given.

One of the hardest things about being away from NC is being away from my brothers grave. I only get down once or twice a year, but I am so comforted when I find flowers, notes, and other things left there for him. It's so comforting to know that he's "visited".

You're going to have such a grand adventure - - -

Anonymous said...

Dearest Melissa and AG:
You don’t have to leave him. My dear friend’s little boy died of SIDS at 3 months. When they moved to another city, they took him with. Check out the laws, costs, etc. But you can have him “moved”. The whole family still visits him regularly. Luke would be 15.

Anonymous said...

I do not know how I missed the post about your moving but bless your heart! God has answered you with two special women. Your little boy will be cared for.
And by the way, God would never ever frown at a pocketful of kleenex. He just reaches out and hands you another while patting your back like the wonderful Father He is.

Kaye said...

Wow. I am in tears. Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones, but I seriously doubt it. =) That's true love. What incredible offers! You truly are blessed to have these people in your life regardless of how much time you have or haven't spent with them in the past. God knew exactly what you needed and He ALWAYS is faithful to provide.

Bonnie said...

Oh I how I love to read/hear/see the body of Christ working the way God intends... I know they will be blessed for their obedience (even though that's not their motivation!) and I know you and your family will be, too. Like salve on a burn and the tears just flowed as I read today's post...

Anonymous said...

I so rarely cry, but this post did me in...the Lord has truly blessed you with such supportive and loving friends. Please don't stop blogging when you to to Texas!

Rhonda said...

I can always count on you to bring out the rawest of all emotions! Wow. You are truly blessed to have 'neighbours' such as these. I hope it eases your heart to know that they will be there caring for Elisha.

Take care my friend.

Julie said...

I totally get why it makes you sick to leave him. TOTALLY and I have never lost a child.

Just know that there are lots of us praying for you and for peace and for faith.


Wep said...

That is incredible. There are still some decent people in this world :)

Anonymous said...

I was moved to tears as I read your blog. It just reminded me that God really does care about the most minor details, and He really does care about the desires of our heart. I *know* that, but it's all too easy to forget. Your blog also reminded me that we all need to be that person for *someone.* We don't ALL need to be that person for you, but there is someone out there who needs us to reach out to them. We just need to ask God to show us who *our* person is. Thanks for reminding me of that.

I love you ... not because we're close friends, for we are not. In fact, we have never met. But I feel a kinship with you, and I thank God that just because you move to Texas doesn't mean I have to give up this blog.

P.S. I still hope to meet you someday. Since my hubby is a Texan, and I believe your peeps are from the same part of Texas where we find his peeps, I think that's still a possibility.


Unknown said...

Melissa, God knows just what we need and exactly when we need it. Blessings upon your friends and may we all strive to love and encourage others just as they have! Praying for you!


Lynda said...

Oh, Melissa...thank you for sharing this...these ladies make me know exactly how I want to live my life going forward - to be willing to offer something specific. How many times have we said, "Let me know if you need anything..." No one ever really lets you know, but maybe, "I'm going to get you some groceries..." "I'll be taking flowers to the cemetery for you." Whatever! We can do one small thing at a time. Let's be oily!

mj said...

I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face. What a beautiful post and what wonderful neighbors you have. I can't imagine the emotions you are going through right now. I hope you find comfort in the fact that these special people will keep watch over your little one.--Mary

Shari said...

I haven't been by to read your blog in some time. I forgot the name of your blogspot address. I just clicked off of a blogher link. This post has touched my heart. I can only imagine the feelings and emotions you were having when thinking of little Elisha. It's friends like these that the Lord gives us to soothe our soul, our spirit. I will be praying for you as you move to a new state and someone else is so lovingly caring for Elisha and his place. My love to you, Melissa.

Amy said...

Everything about this post is just beautiful - their obedience, your willingness to share your vulnerability and accept their kind offers.

Kel said...

I hope you dont mind me calling you by your first name

I cant tell you how touched I am.

I cant imagine loseing a child.

And then having to leave him.

I am so glad you have friends that can look after him.

Hugs from Kelli