I don’t always read nonfiction, but when I do I read it more slowly than fiction. Usually. I finished How To Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird in less than a day; I practically inhaled it – it’s that good and that easy to read. Amy Lively is my literary kindred spirit. Her writing voice is witty, fast-paced, and peppered with stories and truth that will make you chuckle while also hitting you right in the heart. The “Next Best Steps” sections at the end of each chapter contain thought-provoking questions to consider as you plan what to do with what you’ve learned.
News flash: much as the author (and you) have looked for it – there is no exemption clause to God’s command to love your neighbor as you love yourself. We don’t get excused from obedience if we don’t know our neighbors, if we don’t have time, if our neighbors are scary or rude, or if it’s inconvenient for us to do so. So, if we can’t get out of it, how do we work around all these legitimate excuses and love our neighbors without being weird? In this book, Amy Lively presents “simple, practical ways to get to know your neighbors, using your God-given personality.”
I cannot say enough good things about How To Love Your Neighbor! There are very few pages left in my copy that are not marked with underlining, smiley faces, hearts, stars, and notes of emphatic agreement in the margins. (See photographic proof.) Her insights and stories gleaned from venturing out of her comfort zone into authentic friendships with her neighbors resonated with my own experiences teaching English as a Second Language to adults in my community. In fact, Amy Lively even includes a section on approaching your neighbors who are from other countries/cultures – it’s spot on! I found myself nodding adamantly in agreement as I read this practical list of do’s and don’ts and ways to engage international neighbors in conversation. My husband and I have learned these things the hard way with our incredibly gracious international friends – thankfully, you don’t have to if you buy your own copy of this book. The information is right there and will save you much trouble and awkward situations! 🙂
How To Love Your Neighbor is a challenging book – coaxing us out of our comfort zones and asking us to do things most of us just plain aren’t comfortable doing. But, it’s also a freeing book. Amy Lively’s dry humor allows you to chuckle at the realities of the daily Jesus-life and realize you’re not the only woman to be irritated by the Proverbs 31 woman. It releases you to offer hospitality without having a spotless house (“This isn’t an eat-off-the-floor kind of clean; a simple wipe-off-what-someone-just-ate-off-the-floor will do.“) and recognizes (with suggestions!) that introverts aren’t going to reach out to their neighbors in the same way as extroverts.
I could say SO MUCH MORE about this book – there are so many sentences that I underlined that I long for you to read too. But short of me just copying the entire thing here onto my blog, I can simply encourage you to seek out your own copy. As Amy says in the introduction, “In today’s culture, it’s weird to love your neighbor – but we don’t have to be weird doing it.” If you want to love your neighbor, but you don’t know how – this book is exactly for you!
I give How To Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird 5 out of 5 stars and a space on my favorites shelf! I am better because I read it – and I pray my neighborhood will be too.
(THANK YOU to Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.)
About the book’s author: Amy Lively is a writer and speaker who provides tips, tools, and teaching about loving our neighbors without being weird, offensive, or pushy. Amy draws from her own experience knocking on her neighbors’ doors and leading a women’s neighborhood Bible study. She is passionate about helping people identify their unique ministry gifts and use them in their community. She has a degree in practical ministry and oversees communication to the congregation and the community at Life Church Ohio. Amy, her husband, and their daughter live in Lancaster, Ohio, with a holy dog and an unsaintly cat. Learn more at www.howtoloveyourneighbor.com.