Sometimes loving your neighbor means just as much to you as it does to them. At least that’s been Deirdre Dwyer’s experience.
Deirdre, a high school teacher moved to Jacksonville in 2010 and visited Chets for the first time that year. Just a few years later, in 2013, her marriage fell apart and she decided a change of scenery would be good for her. She moved to a small house in Jacksonville Beach. It was a difficult time for Deirdre because the most important things to her are faith, family, and community and she’d lost some of that.
Deirdre found love and community at Chets in a LifeGroup but she wanted to find it with her neighbors as well. “I made a point of walking, saying 'hi' to folks and getting to know their names,” said Deirdre. She wanted to share the love of God that she knew with everyone around her.
While on one of her walks, she saw a student from her class. She found out he lived right across the road from her. Deirdre met his mom and they were neighborly because of her son but the friendship grew from there. Deirdre thinks it’s because her neighbor also knew what it felt like to be alone and unsupported. She shared with Deirdre that her husband’s family had never embraced her as their own. “She wanted to feel loved and accepted… it’s the same thing I wanted” said Deirdre. “I felt like God really gave her to me as a friend.”
Over the years, Deirdre would share things about her neighbor with her LifeGroup or ask for prayer for things going on because they’d become her family. Through that, her LifeGroup began getting to know her neighbor as well. Deirdre explained her neighbor is in her 60s and raising four grandkids on her own. Deirdre tries to help out however she can. Sometimes it’s inviting the kids over for dinners or just spending time listening to what’s going on in their lives.
Deirdre takes time to be a neighbor like we talked about in our Won’t You Be My Neighbor? sermon series last fall. The tagline of that series was “see what love can do.” Deirdre says the love she’s shown her neighbors and the love she’s received back from them is overwhelming. It’s opened doors of opportunity to share God’s love.
We talk a lot about living life on mission at Chets and that’s what Deirdre does. “She always makes herself available to be used by God” said the leader of Deirdre’s LifeGroup, Mark Coomes. Her love for her neighbor encourages others in their LifeGroup to reach out to their neighbors.
As a LifeGroup they want to practice practical Christianity, have meaningful conversations, and be intentional with their neighbors. Once a month they have family gatherings at the homes of different LifeGroup members and more often than not, Deirdre brings her neighbor family. Her neighbor will come to LifeGroup on Sunday mornings some and her grandkids come to church and are active in KidWorship. She knows God is working in their lives.
Deirdre said through this friendship she’s learned that sometimes what our neighbors long for most of all is friendship and someone they can count on. “Sometimes it’s the simplest things we may not think of. It’s in the ongoing day to day support that makes them feel loved,” said Deirdre.