When I see a new dog in my neighborhood, my standard response is to say, “Doggie!!!!” very excitedly and then to immediately analyze the situation to determine if the owner is open to me introducing myself to the new pooch. More often than not, I am able to do so, and I immediately ask the owner the dog’s name and breed. This is my standard response, whether or not I know the neighbor.
While walking through the neighborhood recently, I started naming the dogs that lived in each house I passed. Linc, Skippy, Lola, Honey, Hazel, and so on. But as I walked more and thought further, I realized that while I had the dog’s names memorized, I did not even know all of the names of these dogs’ owners. So at some point in the past, upon seeing the owner walking the dog, I had actually asked the owner for the dog’s name but didn’t even ask the owner their own name!
You shall love your neighbor as yourself (from Mark 12:31).
I was convicted about this. The God who created the universe not only knows my name, He also knows how many hairs are on my head. Surely He would want me to at least try to know my neighbors’ names. Indeed, for neighbors who live near me, finding out their name is a basic ingredient of showing them that I care.
I decided that I would rectify things by asking these neighbors their names the next time I saw them. It was a little awkward at first, but as I came across these individuals, I just confessed that I had never introduced myself, I told them who I was, and asked their names. Thankfully each of them were very gracious when responding.
While knowing a neighbor’s name is just a first step in building a relationship, it is an important one.
Who is your neighbor?