In 2016, during a period of about a year when it seemed possible — even likely — that Shelli would win her battle with cancer, she and I plotted out an article for the GiN website that would explain to our readers what had been going on in our lives to cause our extended hiatus from publishing anything new here. I wrote about the business I had bought in 2013 that was taking up most of my time and Shelli described graduating her youngest child from homeschool high school and sending him off to college. And, at my urging, she wrote about her illness.
The premise of the article was to encourage others not to "sit around and wait for a miracle to come," but to "be one," as the song goes. There's a line in that song that Shelli told me brought her to tears. It goes like this:
A little somethin'
might feel like nothin'
but in His hands,
it's all we'll ever need.
Although no one around her perceived that she had any, Shelli felt her limitations. She sometimes doubted she had done enough and, at that time in her life I think, was especially vulnerable to those doubts. These words in this song reassured her that her efforts, however small, were capable of making a big impact.
Together, we concluded the draft article with the following:
"Speaking as Shellinda again and rereading what we've both just written, we realize it's the standard excuse -- 'We've been too busy.' Life happens to us all. Clearly, we understand. But we think, and believe you will agree, things have not gotten better all by themselves over these last three years. In fact, they've gotten worse. No white knight has ridden in to save the day. And, in the final analysis, isn't that what we're really waiting for when we tell ourselves: I can't do anything; I'm just one person; it's too big for me to handle; I don't know enough; who am I to turn things around? SOMEONE MORE QUALIFIED -- STRONGER, SMARTER, MORE EXPERIENCED -- WILL STEP IN AND SET THINGS RIGHT.
We're here to challenge ourselves and our readers with a question: Why sit around and wait for a miracle to come WHEN YOU CAN BE ONE?"
Being a miracle may sound like an inconceivably YUGE undertaking. And that's not what I'm asking of myself or my readers. I'm encouraging each of us to be a good neighbor. Start by learning your neighbors' names; one in two Americans don't know them. Once you know them by name, find opportunities to talk to them. This can start with, "Hi, how are you?" when you see them in their yard or, if you live in an apartment, picking up their mail where the tenants' mailboxes are located. But at some point, we all need to get beyond the superficial.
Many of our neighbors yearn for a greater sense of community. We can do that. It's neither difficult nor impossible, but it does require your time and a decision to put yourself out there. On your day off, ask one neighbor to come over and have a cup of coffee. If you're the type to jump in with both feet, organize a block party of sorts. This can be as simple as a pot luck in your backyard or as elaborate as a Fourth of July bash complete with fireworks. Make conversation. By doing so, get to know about your neighbors, their thoughts, their needs, and their dreams.
As relationships are formed, be observant. Think about that widow down the street. Does she know how to get her sprinklers turned on for the summer? Can she even start her lawnmower? The elderly couple next door, could they use some help getting their groceries from the car into the house? The single mother or father, could they use a break on the weekend for a little "me" time? Maybe their kids could come over to your house and play for a while. You don't have to be pushy, but don't wait for them to ask for assistance before you make an offer of help. Some people don't ask for help even when they desperately need it.
All of us "limited government" types have to put, not just our money, but our time where our mouths are. We need to be our brothers' keepers instead of letting the ever-growing government occupy the field. That starts small, with one-on-one relationships right where we are: at home, at work, at school. Dream small. Simple moments can change the world.