Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Love Your Neighbor

Last night I was a little chilly, so I grabbed a pair of slippers to keep my feet warm.  All the memories came flooding back.  Many years ago I lived in an apartment in Santa Monica with a lovely roommate.  In the building next to us there was an old woman who often stood on her balcony which looked directly into our window.  She looked a lot like the old woman in Snow White with the poisoned apple.  Her hair was long and wirey gray and her back was hunched over, making her about 4 feet tall.  If I’m being honest, she kind of scared me.  My roommate and I were attending Fuller Seminary at the time and in a class my roommate was taking, they were doing a study on loving your neighbors.  Ashley decided to put her lessons into practice and reach out to the old woman on the balcony.  Thus began a beautiful friendship with Bryna Gerber.  Ashley ended up getting married and leaving our apartment, but I had forged some deep bonds with Mrs. Gerber and continued to go visit with her and glean from her wisdom.  Her apartment was neat as a pin.  She lived there for over 50 years.  She brought her babies home from the hospital in that apartment.  She entertained in that apartment with friends from her husband’s company.  She was widowed in that apartment.  Bryna loved to knit and she used to knit her husband’s socks!  (I thought that was so romantic!)  One day she took me into her closet where she had a dozen bags filled with knitted slippers in every color.  She asked me if I’d like a pair and I gladly accepted.  Every time I came to visit, she offered me a new pair of slippers and after awhile, I had quite a collection!  I certainly didn’t need 10 pairs of slippers, but it brought her so much joy to give them away.  It made me sad to see all of those bags of slippers with no one to give them to.  When I took a team of college students on a mission trip to Poland, I asked Mrs. Gerber to knit the girls on my team slippers.  She was over the moon about the project.  I took her to the yarn store to buy new yarn and she got to work.  This little old woman who used to scare me as she stared at us from her balcony, was really a wise lady with many gifts and talents and a generous heart, just waiting for someone to say something more to her than hello.  About 5 years ago when I moved back to Southern California, I went to visit Mrs. Gerber.  There was a package on her doorstep that was addressed to someone else.  I knocked, but no one answered.  I walked away and cried.  I was pretty sure of what had happened, but didn’t want to admit it.  I will always remember Mrs. Gerber and always be convicted by that sweet old woman who I would have otherwise quickly passed by to hurry into my apartment; but Jesus says to love your neighbor as yourself.  He says, “whatever you’ve done for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you’ve done for me.”  Is there someone you know that is lonely?  Is there someone that you see all the time and quickly avoid?  Don’t miss an opportunity to love Jesus through loving your neighbor.


  1. Lydia is the 76 year old Russian born lady that lived in the apartment that looked into ours when we first moved to L.A. Ten years later she's now 86 and has seen me go from a wife to a mother of three. She's never met my 3rd, but it's like we still live there when I call her up every few months. I still order her a dozen nylons online every year when she runs out and she occasionally will give me glimpses of what it was like to be born in Russia early in the 20th century and to live through losing her family during WWII. I worry about her and wonder who visits her now that I am gone.

  2. I came over to your blog to thank you so much for your sweet words and for visiting my blog, and now I am all teared up because of this AMAZING post!! You are right, this story hits so close to home! I am so happy to read about your relationship with Mrs. Gerber and how following God led you and your roommate to this incredible woman! Another coincidence: I almost went to Fuller seminary for grad school (but didn't end up going to grad school at all). What a small world! Happy to have found you and your blog! Thank you for your sweet words on mine! xoxo

  3. What a touching, and convicting story that brought tears to my eyes. I feel humbled wondering if I would have done the same thing in your situation... Thanks for sharing.

  4. I have no idea how I got here, but this post was awesome. Made me cry! What a wonderful story and memory--and prefect reminder of how everyone should be.



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