I read Bob Goff’s Everybody Always right before the pandemic shutdown. All of the motivation I gathered to go love my neighbors was snuffed out with the warnings that anyone – anyone – might have Covid-19 and might give it to you. In a world where we were only allowed to drive to work (yay essential businesses) and the grocery store, I pretty much avoided my neighbors, and everyone else for that matter. I doubled down on my friendships instead, choosing to love the people who already loved me back. There were good things about that decision, but the cost was great: I’d lost almost an entire year’s worth of time that I could’ve spent loving other people, the ones who lived next door, and the ones who didn’t already know and love me. In that regard, I lament the time lost in 2020 and the “could’ve beens.”

2020 was still a year of blessings in our family, however. We are now debt-free (see the post Debt-Free) and while we’re not rolling in money or living extravagantly (hello, college and retirement funds), we’ve found that we are a little more financially free to act in love.

My husband and I co-lead a small group at our church. Our first Sunday back after Christmas we discussed the portion from Everybody Always in which Bob explains the power of loving our neighbors – our literal neighbors. We asked our class to share acts of love that they had received or given in regard to their neighborhoods, and any goals they might set for this new year. Jake and I set a goal to be more generous. We had spent the past almost nine years of our marriage working toward being financially free and wishing we had the resources to do more. Now we do. It’s not much, but it’ll make a difference somewhere, to someone. We asked the group to write down one thing they’d like someone to do for them that week and then asked them to do that thing for someone else. I wrote, buy a coffee. Jake wrote, ask how someone is doing. These seem like minor things, and they should! Love doesn’t need to be extravagant; it needs to be intentional.

I bought my co-worker a coffee. Jake brought our neighbors a restaurant gift card. They are renovating their kitchen. He saw a need and stepped into the opportunity. He knocked on their door and they invited him in, eager to show him the progress on the renovation so far. Sometimes people just want to be seen and heard.

Each month Jake and I will sit down and evaluate the opportunities that are placed before us. We have been good stewards of the resources God has given us, and we want to continue to use those resources for His work…one act of kindness at a time.

So, the challenge I present to you is the same that we presented to ourselves and to our small group: Write down one thing that someone could do for you that would make your day. Buy you a coffee. Mail you a gift card. Drop off a meal. Offer to babysit. Then, take that thing you’ve written down and go do it for someone else, someone outside of your friend group or inner circle. Someone God is asking you to love.

Let’s be people who are generous with our love and our kindness.