A Culture of Isolation?

Two weekends ago we made Christmas cookies for our neighbs. That’s neighbors in Santa Barbara language. By the way – complete tangent – I JUST discovered that the term “the hood” comes from the word neighborhood…my annoying habit of shortening words led me to this eye-opening revelation. Genius! Oh also, did you know that the medicine “tums” is the baby talk way of saying tummy? Just discovered that one too.

Refocusing. We really desire to build relationships with our neighbors because we think it’s important to find ways to be a blessing to those around us. We thought cookies would accomplish that plus be a great way to introduce ourselves in our new neighborhood (we just bought a house and moved in in September). As we were passing out the cookies, it became clear that none of them knew each other (or just barely). They were all friendly to us, but we were dumbfounded that some of these people have been here for 18 years and don’t know any of their neighbors. Sean and I both knew our neighbors growing up…we were even close enough with some of them to invite them to our wedding. It also seems to stand in stark contrast to stories I’ve heard our elders tell of neighborhood camaraderie and ready willingness to lend a hand (particularly in hard times). In fact, the dictionary literally defines neighbor as “a person who shows kindliness or helpfulness towards his or her fellow humans.”

I’m not saying I’m immune…my first thought when we run out of eggs is “aw crap, we have to run to the store,” and never “hey we should go ask our neighbor if we can have an egg.” And I’ll be honest, most of the time I don’t even answer our door when someone knocks because I just assume it’s UPS dropping off a box or a solicitor. Anyways, I don’t really have anything profound to say…I just think it’s interesting and the whole cookie experience made me think. My hope is that over time we will be able to build relationships with our neighbors and love on them however we can – cookies, bbq’s, practical helpfulness, etc. Perhaps we will be able to change the culture of isolation in our hood to a culture of connection. I think it’s pretty important since after all, Jesus told us to love our neighbor and we might as well start with those physically close! 🙂

I’d love to hear your thoughts/ideas on the subject. Why do you think people have become more isolated from even those they live right next to? Do you have relationships with your neighbors? How do you cultivate those relationships? How have you blessed them?

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Melissa Felker

I blog to share my life, entertain, inspire, inform, encourage, challenge (both myself and others), and of course, for personal therapy - haha! I love to write about meaningful experiences and a wide range of topics I find interesting. I particularly enjoy sharing life in a raw and barely censored fashion because I highly value authenticity.

4 thoughts on “A Culture of Isolation?”

  1. Funny you blog about this… Sean and I have tired to get to know our immediate neighbors. One neighbor is a crazy lady who we try to avoid lol and the other is a very sweet family who we interact with as much as possible. When we first moved in, Pedro the husband, came over with his edger and helped Sean edge our front lawn which was so nice! This year I wanted to make cookies and take them (as you did) and meet new people but things got in the way and we got busy. I am going to make a point to do it this Christmas thought because I too think it is so important to know your neighbors and why not love on them if possible 🙂

  2. Great post: Sadly a few of our neighbors have a better relationship with the PD in Livermore than we have with them. This in itself has caused me to be a little more isolated and cautious of said neighbors. There are 3 neighbors we know well. One even came to decorate our home for Christmas, one always chats with us for lengths of time, and the others we helped move in. I love the idea of going to a neighbor to borrow “a cup of sugar” but sadly this rarely happens because no one is ever home. As a SAHM I also do not answer the door mostly out of caution. I pray that our next home will be in a neighborhood that we can have fellowship on even the smallest level. Until then I am as friendly as I can be to the neighbors that accept the kindness.

  3. yeeeeeeees… i find this really hard/frustrating. our neighborhood is pretty similar. everyone we know from our neighborhood it is because we have initiated and really worked hard to get to know them, and even after a year of living here they never come to anything we invite them to (backyard bbq, birthday parties, etc). this is especially hard when you want to have a ministry to your neighbors but they have no interest in a friendship.

    finally, though, about 3 months ago a young couple moved in behind us and they have been super friendly, and we have hung out with them a few times. at first i thought that they were christians trying to do the same thing as us! but they are not christians. we are praying for more opportunities with them.

  4. My sister in law and I talk about this a lot. Wouldn’t it be nice to just be out playing in the front yard with your little kiddo and have some adult interaction with your neighbor…rather than always having to plan a “play date” (not a judgement of play dates…we love them.) Our Family is blessed to live in a neighborhood with lots of families even if their kids are way older then ours.But we are as guilty as the rest of not going out of our way to get to know them…besides the occasional wave and or “nice day isn’t it?”.

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