The back of my van is full of new diapers. They are for a newborn, and I have been trying to pass them along to someone who could use them for a few weeks now. A good friend was thoughtful enough to pass them along to me, knowing that I had friends who had just recently had babies, and I took them eagerly knowing I could share them with someone who would put them to great use.
The day that I got them, I stopped by one friend’s house, with all three kids in the van, and unloaded them only to be turned away by the tired new father: “He isn’t wearing size one yet. We wouldn’t be able to use them right now.” Their baby is indeed tiny, so I took my bags back and loaded them once again into the back of my van.
The next week as I was loading kiddos into the double stroller for the walk to church, I once again unpacked those bags of diapers and stashed them in the bottom of the stroller (I am pretty sure that doing this is the reason why my under-stroller basket no longer secures properly) to give them to another new mom in our congregation. But she and her husband and new little one were not there that Sunday, so once again the diapers got re-stacked in the back of the van.
At this point, I am weary of trying to give these diapers away. It has taken far too much energy, time and physical effort and I am tired of them cluttering up our van. It should not be this hard to bless someone; to give a gift away.
I wrote last year about Doug trying to buy me a dress and how persistent he was in seeking to bless me. I realized that I need more of this kind of persistence; it is just too easy to make a couple of good tries then, justifiably, to give up.
When our church founders moved into this neighborhood many years ago, their central pursuit was to know and love their neighbors. One member tells the story of going door to door to meet his neighbors, and of one particular neighbor who would at first ignore his efforts completely, then would open only the metal security door, and then finally one day opened both doors to meet this persistent young man who simply would not give up. In light of the racial history of this community and of the general fear and suspicion that still hovers over our streets, it is not altogether strange that this neighbor stayed inside and refused our friend’s efforts.
It took months for each barrier to soften and fall, and our church founder refused to give up. I can imagine he was physically tired and emotionally weary of stepping outside of his comfort zone and knocking on that same door over and over again. But because of that persistence, the two neighbors eventually stood face to face and learned each other’s names.
I want to pass along the diapers in my van. I want to share them with a new mother who would be blessed by the gift. I would like for gifts like this to always be this easy, one-stop transaction, but they so rarely are. It seems the norm is a much messier, drawn-out scenario that tests my endurance at every step. The diapers themselves are not really the big deal here: it is my willingness to continue to extend myself, and whatever limited energies I feel I have on a given day, to seek to know and love my neighbors here.