Cupcakes on a Thursday

A few weeks ago, I decided to bake cookies for my next-door neighbors. This is a rare occasion for me (I may be known for setting off the smoke alarm while cooking), but I was inspired by Jesus’ invitation to love our neighbors.

The truth is — after two years living in my apartment complex, I didn’t even know my neighbors’ names. It’s kind of difficult to love someone you don’t even know so Mission: Cookie Love was born. I put the cookie dough in the oven and actually stayed in the kitchen instead of walking into another room while cooking (hence, the smoke alarm issue). A few minutes later, I pulled the fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies from the oven and set them down to cool. I scribbled a little note — Hey neighbors! Sorry I don’t even know your names, but I baked you cookies! I’m here if you ever need anything! — and placed it in an envelope. A few minutes later, I stealthily tiptoed over to their apartment and dropped off the goods at their door.

So this is kind of a crazy part. That same night, I read a chapter of a book that my small group is reading. (It’s called Flesh and it’s awesome). I almost dropped the book when I read this line: There are times to make a plate of cookies to take to a neighbor, and there are other times to make a scene. This caught my attention because of the cookie reference (what are the odds?!), but also because there was a deeper reason I decided to reach out to my neighbors at this specific time.

Last month, a friend of my mom and brother took his life. He was really young and it just wrecked me. Our family has experienced losing loved ones in this way and I know how deep the grief is for the family and friends left behind. I also have come to learn that when people isolate, depression can take root and bring a person into deep despair.

The walls in my apartment complex are pretty thin so I hear my neighbors often. For months and months, I have heard my neighbor play video games. This is okay of course, but he plays them a lot. For long periods of time and a lot of the time. I know they can be addicting, but a few weeks ago, I thought, “What if he’s lonely? What if he’s isolating?” That’s the real reason I wanted to meet him. Just so he’d know he has someone next door who is there and cares.

There are times to make a plate of cookies to take to a neighbor, and there are other times to make a scene. Making cookies doesn’t really constitute as making a scene, but in addition to this small gesture, a few friends and I have also gathered together and created a Night of Hope: A Time to Come Alive. This will live-stream tomorrow (Friday, March 20) here. We’re going to “make a scene” about suicide. We’re coming together to give people strategies to overcome hopelessness and to teach people how to help loved ones who are isolating. Every life matters and it’s so important for people to know they are not alone.

I’ve talked to a few friends since the Coronavirus has broken out and there are people feeling lonely right now. Heck, I’ve felt lonely living by myself. Being lonely is okay, but prolonged feelings of loneliness can lead to hopelessness. I’m so grateful to unite together tomorrow night to fight isolation and pour into each other’s lives. I really hope you can join us.

Tonight, there was a knock on my door. It was my next-door neighbor (his name is Dan!) and in his hands were a tray of confetti cupcakes. “I wanted to thank you for your generosity,” he said, smiling. “My roommate and I don’t bake, so we got you some store bought cupcakes to show our thanks.” We chatted for a couple of minutes and then I shut the door.

I placed the cupcakes on my counter and smiled. My heart was so filled.

This week, there may be an invitation for you to bake cookies for someone. Or give someone a roll of toilet paper. Or to calm someone’s fears. Or there may be an invitation for you to make a scene and shout against the injustice you see in the world. Whatever it may be, keep your eyes open because God will specifically place certain people in your path. And maybe your kindness will cause them to be kind to someone else. Or maybe that kindness will come back to you.

And maybe you will gain a new friend.

Joyfully,
Lauren

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