Loving My Actual Neighbor by Alexandra Kuykendall {Book Review}

“May we be people who take this business of loving our neighbors seriously, knowing God does. With all of the humility we can muster, we join our Maker to treasure the people right in front of us so that they may experience the hope of Christ through us.” Loc 2202

Loving My Actual Neighbor: 7 Practices to Treasure the People Right in Front of You by Alexandra Kuykendall (Location 2202)

As an introvert, I often just walk past or even avoid the people on the outskirts of my everyday life. I don’t have much mental/emotional/social energy to spare on a typical day. And that’s fine, for the most part, but sometimes I know I need to rethink my attitude of energy conservation and just engage with the people around me. A short conversation in the driveway, choosing to say hello to the same cashier at the grocery store every time, and being willing to jump into a heart-first conversation might mean more to the people I’m around than I might realize. It’s harder to pause, invite others in, open up my life, and see the people around me a little more, but sometimes it’s wise, kind, necessary, and right.

This book, Loving My Actual Neighbor by Alexandra Kuykendall is full of interesting stories, practical tips, and Kuykendall’s heart for being present with those on the outside of our everyday circle of people. Her seven practices for treasuring the people right in front of you include: holding a posture of humility, asking questions to learn, being quiet to listen, standing in the awkward, accepting what is, lightening up, and giving freely. Her stories are vibrant, her advice is wise and generous, and I really appreciated her emphasis on how we are not the standard behavior, judge of theirs, or perfecter of ours. In all our efforts to be neighborly, God has the last effect and all control.

“When I remember everyone’s proper place in this world, I can step out in humility. It is not thinking less of myself but recognizing I am not the center of creation. I am not in charge. I am not the standard by which the rest of the world should live. God has those responsibilities covered. And when I remember that my neighbor is also made in God’s image and has equal access to his grace, I can avoid acting as either rescuer or expert in how they are to live. There is freedom in offering love brother to brother, sister to sister, knowing we are on equal footing under God’s overarching authority.”

Kuykendall, Location 338

This book is a lovely topic-sister to Invited by Leslie Verner, Finding Holy in the Suburbs by Ashley Hales, and The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannon Martin.

Bonus Quotes:

  • “When you interact with someone […] a great question to ask is, “What does this person need that I can uniquely offer?”” (loc409)
  • “We can use outside information to help us understand context, but the person in front of us is always the primary source of their own experience.” (loc720)
  • “But love is being quiet to listen.” (loc 827)
  • “If we were to go deeper in our friendship, we needed to also explore the places where we didn’t overlap.” (loc 1040)
  • “From attempted conversation to offers to help, we can only control our behaviors and responses and then trust God is at work in the unseen places.” (loc 1538)
  • “These healthy habits of caring for my body, mind, and soul prepare me to love my neighbors out of a place of personal thriving.” (loc 1566)
  • “May we accept what is, thereby showing our neighbors that we love them today, right now, as they are.” (loc 1575)
  • “Standing in the in-between is acknowledging the reality of this world while continuing to point to the reality of hope.” (loc 1580)
  • “Let them interrupt you.” (loc 1593)

(Disclaimers: I am grateful for Netgalley for the digital review copy! Post contains Amazon affiliate links.)

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