By Elizabeth Burgess

 

My name is Elizabeth Burgess, and I’m the Network Support Manager at CRN. I am passionate about supporting the church to do transformative work in our community. I believe and have experienced first-hand that building relationships is one of the primary ways to do that.

I’ve been learning an important lesson that I’ve missed out on for many years—life is truly better in community with others. It hasn’t been until recently that I personally realized this and it was through a relationship with my neighbors that lead me to this discovery.

You see, I’m naturally a problem solver. I think I was wired to be this way or I have grown over the years to believe that was my role in society. When I see a need, I like to fix it. When I hear of a problem, I like to find a way to solve it. I think stems from my desire to help others in need and because of different factors at play, I have often been granted the opportunity to play that part.

But you see, I’ve been missing out. I’ve only been experiencing one half of the picture. Each time I help someone, there is someone on the receiving end that I have completely overlooked and I have often missed all of the richness, fullness, beauty and gifts that their relationship can offer me.

My husband and I learned of a neighbor who was having surgery and needed to have their driveway pressure washed. My husband volunteered to pressure wash their driveway for him during this time of need. Now for most of my life, the story would usually end there. We would show up, pressure wash and save the day. End of story. We were the good neighbor helping a neighbor in a time of need.

But all that changed when our neighbor wanted to gift us with something in return. Not monetary payment, but he wanted to share his gifts and passions with our family by taking my children on a ride around the neighborhood in his antique car that he had restored. He wanted to share his passion with us. And instead of turning him down and saying no, we are here to help you, we said yes. And something amazing happened. We entered into a relationship with him that is so rich and beautiful. The ride around the neighborhood brought so much joy to our boys. We didn’t see ourselves as the heroes or as the only people with something to give, we started a friendship with him where we see the value in him, and we each have something to share with each other. As a result, our relationship with each other has been so much more joy-filled, rich and deeper because we are in community together.