Why I Refused to Love My Neighbor (Plus a Giveaway!)

Why I Refused to Love My NeighborI am thrilled to welcome Amy Lively back to the blog today! Her new book, How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weirdis now available and a must-read. Keep reading to learn why you need to start loving your neighbor . . . TODAY!

Why I Refused to Love My Neighbor

When our daughter outgrew her swing set, we sold it to an acquaintance who struggled to find a truck and some buddies to help haul it away. We weren’t home when his plan came together, so we told him to go ahead and get started. They removed the swings and were dismantling the slide when a woman came out of the house and asked why they were stealing herswing set in broad daylight. They were at my neighbor’s house!

It’s a nightmare having a pizza delivered in my neighborhood. With its poorly marked winding streets all named after trees, the poor driver can never find our house—seriously, I use the strobe light app on my smart phone to signal them from the driveway or else they circle aimlessly while my dinner grows cold. There are people who have lived in our neighborhood for over 35 years who still don’t know the street names!

I got lost in my neighborhood, too.

I wandered aimlessly through my neighborhood, not paying attention to the people living around me. I refused to look up from my busy life and notice what was happening all around me. So when God reminded me of His #2 command to love my neighbor as myself, I was a little surprised. Then I was excited! But then I got scared. And finally, I told God why this was a just a terrible idea.

I patiently explained to the Lord that I was too busy to invest in my neighbor’s lives. I was caring for my husband and our daughter, working from home, volunteering at church and school, going to ministry school—these are all good and necessary things, right?

You know what else? I’m not spiritual enough. I don’t know the answers to life’s toughest questions. I’m a work in progress, an imperfect and implausible witness. Perfect excuse, right?

Besides, my house isn’t ready. I can’t plan Pinterest-worthy parties. You told Martha to back off, didn’t You? You want me to be tied up in religious business like her sister, Mary, right?

It’s risky. You never know who’s lurking behind those blinds. My neighbors don’t seem friendly. I could get hurt.

I had every excuse in the book, and most of them were valid.

I am busy, I am broken, my house is dusty, people are unpredictable. Trouble was, I couldn’t find an exception clause in the second-greatest commandment (trust me, I looked hard)—

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37–39

I had every excuse in the book for not loving my neighbor, and a few I’m sure God had never heard before—but I couldn’t find an asterisk or exemption to get me off the hook. After months of arguing with God, I finally knocked on my neighbors’ doors and invited them for coffee at my kitchen table.

At first, it felt awkward. It wasn’t always easy. But now? Since I’ve met Juanita and Linda, Mary Ann and Mary Sharon, Bonnie and Lauren? And my neighbors sat together in my living room last night and talked and laughed and cried and prayed?

Oh, yeah—the reward was worth the risk.

How about you? How are you loving your neighbors? Share a comment about how you reach out (or want to reach out!) to your neighbors, and you’ll be entered to win a lovely prize pack from Amy:


  • 2 MUGS Adorable “Love Your Neighbor” mugs, one for you, one for your neighbor!
  • 10 CARDS to ask your neighbor over for coffee, board games, BBQ – you name it! Invite one neighbor or the whole block, whatever works.
  • 2 COFFEES Single-serve Columbian coffees.
  • 2 COASTERS to put under your steaming mugs.
  • 1 BOOK A signed copy of Amy’s book, How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird.

Amy Lively

Amy-LivelyAmy Lively is a speaker and the author of How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird (Bethany House, May 2015). She provides tips and tools for Christ’s #2 command drawing from her own experience knocking on her neighbors’ doors and leading a women’s neighborhood Bible study called The Neighborhood Cafe. Amy lives in Lancaster, Ohio with her husband, their daughter, a holy dog and an unsaintly cat. Learn more athowtoloveyourneighbor.com.

About Suzanne

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes bestselling, award winning fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. Her interest in the Plain People began with her Old Order German Baptist grandfather, raised in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne's app, Amish Wisdom, delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone or iPad. She writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. She lives with her family in California and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you can't take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.


  1. Pat Thompson says:

    One year, we had a community cookout. My children went with an adult to each house, 1 block in each direction, inviting them to a cookout. [They had fliers to give or leave.] Just bring something to share, hamburger/hotdogs and buns are provided. 2 adjoining yards were used. Children had plenty of space to play outside. I met so many people, and we had lasting friends. We had around 50 attend.

    • Amy Lively says:

      That’s so fun, Pat! Love how your neighbors combined efforts to make this happen. In my neighborhood, we have a Pizza Potluck. Everyone brings their favorite pizza to share (homemade, delivery or store bought), and some folks bring drinks, salad, chips, or desserts. Such a great way to meet people!

    • Pat…I love hearing those kinds of stories. Just AWESOME! Thank you for sharing. XO Suzanne

  2. Angel says:

    A couple years ago God placed it heavy on my heart to do some type of block party for my neighborhood… I put everything together and spoke to my husband about it. We decided to do either an icecream or fish fry theme. I made flyers and everything. At the last minute he asked me to wait until he got some construction finished that was going on in the inside of our home, so I put it off. I wish I hadn’t. The Holy Spirit kept nudging me to go ahead with it and I didn’t listen. The day after we would have had our block party, a neighbor was hit and killed by a drunk driver leaving behind a young wife and daughter… that would have been a nice memory for everyone to have had with him, but I didn’t follow through. Everyone loves coffee – I LOVE coffee… this would be a fantastic idea! I think I’m going to put together a neighborhood coffee “date”.

    • Amy Lively says:

      I’m so sorry about the tragic loss of your neighbor. Please let me know when you’re having a neighbor (or ten!) over for coffee so I can be praying for you.

  3. Amy…Thank you so much for writing your book and sharing from your heart. You know I’m a fan! Hope to meet you one day, face-to-face, to give you a hug. Warmly, Suzanne

    • Amy Lively says:

      Yes, yes–that would be wonderful! There are so many Amish near my home in Lancaster, Ohio (not PA), I will bring you a souvenir when we do get to meet one day 🙂

  4. Julie Sunne says:

    Amy, I’m not very good at reaching out. First, we live in a state park, so neighbors are few and more than a few steps away. Second, I echo your excuses.

    However, I did feel compelled to deliver a small gift to a neighbor who had a stroke a while back and is now wheelchair bound. As I knocked at his door and stepped across the threshold, it did feel a bit awkward, but it was well worth the gesture.

    • Amy Lively says:

      You live IN a park? How cool! Sounds lovely and peaceful and, yes, secluded. Good for you for taking a gift to your neighbor, I bet they remember your kindness often. May your kind gestures and gifts lead others to the Giver!

  5. kim amundsen says:

    I reached out to my neighbors and got burned so to say. So I help out at the local animal shelter and the local library made many friends at both. Sometimes neighbors just don’t want to be friends or to be nice.

    • Amy Lively says:

      Kim, I’m proud of you for searching for ways to connect. You’re not responsible for your neighbor’s reaction, only for your action. May you never get weary of doing good!

  6. Donna G says:

    I just moved a few weeks ago, and several of my neighbors have already come over and welcomed me to the neighborhood. I walk the dog every day, and make a point to wave and smile at everyone we see. I need to get more intentional about it, though.

    • Amy Lively says:

      Your neighbors sound nice, Donna – and dogs are great way to help you meet people (babies are best, but dogs do nicely!). May I suggest that you write down the names of the people you meet, and notes about your conversation? I always think I’ll remember… but then they all blend together!

  7. Dezi A says:

    I love baking treats and taking them to different neighbors.

  8. Claudia says:

    My neighbor who was the same age of me and had two little girls just like me got cancer for the 2nd time. To help her I took her eldest daughter to school and back home to make things easier on her as she went for treatments. She is in remission now and doing all the things she had been waiting to do.

    • Amy Lively says:

      That is exactly how God intended this command to work! We all need a helping hand at some point… otherwise, how would we recognize our need for a Savior? Bless you for caring for your neighbor in such a practical, helpful way!

  9. Laura Carter says:

    I hardly know any of my neighbors but I’d love to change that. I’d love to invite them over for a cup of tea or start a neighborhood bible study

    • Amy Lively says:

      If you plan it, they will come! Perhaps not in droves, maybe just one woman at a time – but I do pray that God will give you the desires of your heart to love your neighbor. Please keep in touch!