Admittedly, we don’t have much in common.
We were born years apart, he to parents of great means and me to parents grasping to make ends meet and an alcoholic father in search of meaning itself.
We’ve been going our separate ways ever since.
I’m happily married. He’s not. I enjoy a warm and loving relationship with my boys; the courts dictate when he sees his.
I attend church. He doesn’t. It’s not that he doesn’t believe in God. I think he’s like a lot of people today. He probably believes in Him, but doesn’t really know who He is.
I’ve worked hard to reach out to him. When we meet, whether it’s over coffee or lunch or even bump into each other at a shop or market, he gives every indication that things are going just fine.
But I read the papers and people talk. Most of the time I can see it in his eyes; they were once so lively and bright. Not anymore. Maybe he’s on drugs – or not. I don’t know. That’s not something you normally ask somebody – especially a neighbor of such means and influence.
Lately, we don’t seem to agree on much, if we ever did. Oh, sure, we both love our country, root for the same sport teams and want to see our kids grow up to be honest and respectful citizens. Yet, when it comes to matters like religion and politics, we couldn’t be ideologically further from each other.
Still, we talk. And I guess he’s as much trying to influence me as I am him.
If only it were so easy.
Talking with your neighbor isn’t like playing a game. It’s not a competitive endeavor. Sometimes you say something you wish you didn’t; other times you say something that you think fell flat – but later find out what you said made all the difference.
When I talk with him, I am often praying. Not for the clever word or the perfect word – but for wisdom from the Holy Spirit. I am praying that He may speak through me.
You might be surprised that I know Charlie Sheen. The fact is, so do you.
We all know people who are struggling. We all know people who have fallen off the beam or run off the rails and are in serious need of some help.
It’s true that Charlie Sheen’s problems appear to be larger than most, but a life in meltdown is still a meltdown.
Most of our troubled neighbors aren’t exactly like us – but they’re nevertheless our neighbors and that alone makes them deserving of our love and concern.
“The one who had mercy on him,” replied a man. “Go and do likewise,” replied Jesus.
Who in your circle of influence is struggling and in trouble?
I’d encourage you to call them today. Send them an email or text. Go knock on their door and say hello, and while you’re doing it, pray for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
Your visit might just be the thing that helps turn the tide.