Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Good Neighbor Principle : On Living a Selfless Life

Dear friends, as I write these words, it is morning. While an autumn wind raps at the windows, I put on a pot of coffee and retreat into the dining room, to the chair that I keep positioned toward the window. It is here that I come to sit and think, to kneel and pray, to listen and be still.

Outside, November’s sunlight finds its way around the trees, creating light and shadows across the ground. Such a perfect portrayal of life—light and shadows.

Last year, I wrote about our dear neighbors across the street, of the struggles of a wife with dementia and the uncertainty her husband, and their only child, faced. Little did I know that life would take an unexpected turn, as it often does. After falling a few weeks back, breaking his leg in three places, being hospitalized and later in a rehab facility, the elderly gentleman passed away on Veteran’s Day. Our hearts were deeply saddened by this news and I’m glad we were able to visit with him before we left on our recent trip. Rest in peace, Lynn. We will miss you very much. For 27 years, you were a good neighbor to us.

What ever happened to good neighbors? We live in a self-obsessed society and I view this whole concept of "me first" as flawed. The truth is, every choice we make affects someone else, and oftentimes dozens of people. It’s that pesky but undeniable “principle of causation,” often referred to as the “cause and effect” principle. What a person does is the "cause." What happens, because of what a person does, is the "effect." There is never a "cause" without an "effect." 

Consider the words of the Dalai Lama: 

"People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their own happiness and satisfaction." 

I wish I could report that my life has been one big selfless act, but, alas, there's my humanity. Mother Teresa, I'm not. I can report, however, that I agree with Audrey Hepburn who said: “It's that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second. This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up. Others matter more than you do, so 'don't fuss, dear; get on with it.'” 

No doubt life would be easier if we always did what was best for ourselves. How liberating that would be, but as a believer, I cannot adhere to such a philosophy, because nowhere in Scripture will you find the "me first" lifestyle pleasing to God—quite the opposite. 

Throughout Scripture, Jesus admonished us to live a selfless life, a life lived for others. He taught and practiced the doctrine of forgiving everyone for everything, even if it means 490 times in a single day. We can argue with that all we want, and find every excuse under the sun to not obey it, but the Word is clear. He said if we don't forgive others of their sins, we will not be forgiven of ours. No heaven for us without forgiving others. He taught of going the second mile, of giving without expectations, of returning good for evil, of showing God’s love by how we show love to each other. 

No matter how many Scriptures we quote or live by, if we neglect to fulfill these Scriptures, we are wasting our time, for there is no other way to live a life pleasing to God than living a selfless one.

Albert Schweitzer warned us that "life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but" —and here's the upside—"it also becomes richer and happier." Even on the hardest days, I say a hearty, "Amen!" Considering others above self brings not only rich rewards here on earth, but eternal ones await, as well.

Until next time, dear friends, as we go about these final days in November, may we ponder the words of George Eliot:


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  1. This, Dayle, was much needed. Thank you for these words. I needed the reminder.

  2. So beautiful. And so very true.
    Thnak you for these words...
    And prayers for your neighbor's family as they morn their loss.

  3. ... and while everyone's focus was on your neighbor's wife, what an unexpected tragedy! Yours is a somber lesson, indeed, that nothing and no-ONE is guaranteed an easy road. Every day is a gift, and I'd better start realizing that every moment.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. A beautiful post! Being selfless is a difficult task. We begin well, but being human we often slip. Isn't it wonderful we are forgiven and given a new morning to begin anew? Thank you for your lovely words. Hugs!

  5. Those are certainly words to live by. Selflessness is getting harder to find in this world of "SELF". Many of us have become so wrapped up in our lives that we forget we even have neighbors-let alone take the time to interact with them. Pretty sad.
    I am sorry you lost your neighbor, Lynn, but glad that you were able to spend some time with him before he passed away. I am sure he was appreciative of that.
    Hope you have a great Thanksgiving, Dayle. xo Diana

  6. What a precious reminder of what God's Word tells us about others. There is no grey area here. We are to treat others as God treats us. Period. And our humanness makes that very difficult. I have had my struggles with this, especially where my in-laws are concerned (just being honest). As much as I love them, sometimes they are very hard to be nice to. And it is easy to just withdraw and say "I don't care." But how am I showing them Jesus when I do that?? I'm not. Bless you for speaking the Truth in love. I needed to be reminded of that today. Happy Thanksgiving dear friend. Robbin

  7. This is SO true, Dayle! I am so sorry for the loss of your good neighbor...bless his heart. I wonder what will become of his wife now. It is so sad when both are in such a shape, and then one has to leave the other. God bless them. Thank you for another wonderful post, my friend. :) And, THANK YOU for the mention in your sidebar...I love the picture you have with the link to your interview. I so appreciated seeing that! You made my day.

  8. Sorry for your loss. It makes me appreciated my neighbors. I don't know what I'd do with out our neighbors.
    I really appreciate your thoughts and words.


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