How To Really Love Your Neighbor
by Linda Potgieter
“Sell your things and follow Me.”
I realised a month into our global sabbatical that that’s pretty much what we’ve done! We have no house, no cars, no furniture, no toys, no office, no big storage unit full of stuff, just 2 suitcases each and all we know is that this is life for the next year, possibly 2.
We don’t know when we will land in the place that our heart’s desire, we have never done this before so we don’t know the trials and triumphs we will face along the way. But we do know that God is good and He knows all. And we have faith in Him to guide us every step of the way.
We paid off all our debt thanks to training with our coach and mentor, Dani Johnson, set aside some money and well-earned hotels.com points, and hit the global road in a bid to spend serious quality time together. My husband is 47, I am 45, my kids are 10 and 4. We have a corporate business, a part time fashion business and we home school. So creating and maintaining a working vacation schedule from the road has been interesting!
But whilst many think what we’re doing is crazy and a total upheaval, we regard this as a massive privilege. Not everyone can travel the world. Not all kids get to ‘road school’ and experience history, geography, biology and sociology from various corners of the world. And when you embark on an adventure of this scale, there are of course challenges as well as blessings. So far so good, but I admit I am happy to have landed in my beautiful friend Lori’s home in San Diego today with 2 weeks of no travel ahead of us!
My husband and I have hosted many people over the years, from dinner parties to kids’ birthday bashes to regular weekend time with friends and family, to helping folks just passing through. We both love getting to know new people, learn new cultures, and we enjoy interesting conversation around the dinner table.
And that table has turned somewhat since we hit the road on our ‘Travel Sabbatical’. For the first time, we are not able to say “Come for dinner” or “Let’s BBQ after church”. We don’t have a home, a kitchen or a table to gather around, and that’s part of the plan. But the heart of hosting has also been our most interesting observation these past 2 months.
We have stayed with friends, old and new, for 15 out of the 62 days that we have been traveling, meaning that we have either rented AirBNB or hotel rooms the rest of the time. So staying with friends is a real blessing on our budget.
But here’s the interesting part: the surefire way to tell whether someone wants you around or not is a simple matter of time. We have encountered 2 kinds of hosts on our trip: those who invite you into their home (whether overnight or for 2 or 3 days) and genuinely seem to enjoy talking and eating together, taking the kids to the park together, or just being in the kitchen doing life together. And then those whose invitations we appreciated but kind of don’t understand why they happened! On 2 occasions it was very clear that were disrupting their schedule…or maybe we just weren’t their cup of tea, after all! We left earlier than planned on both occasions.
But as with all things in life, we all have different perspectives and there is always something to learn.
Friend, we have to love the one in front of us. Whether your paths cross with someone in the grocery store for 10 seconds or whether you host a guest for dinner, you have the ability to make someone feel loved. That’s our calling. That’s the charge – to love Him, and love His people.
I have been blown away by how some people have loved us! Those 2 days in their home made us feel like royalty! That 1 dinner made us feel like VIP guests. The fact that the very busy husband, father and breadwinner took off work that morning made us feel so incredibly special! How that wife and Mom of 3 little ones spent as much time as she could with us over 3 days will forever remain in my heart.
Beauty is an inside job. And as women with beautiful homes, amazing cooking skills and diverse experiences, talents and interests, I encourage you to open your heart as well as open your home the next time you host someone for dinner or for coffee. Give them an hour of your undivided attention. Give them 2. We’re supposed to be outrageously generous as Christians, so give a whole day if you can! That might mess with your schedule – because your time is extremely valuable – but sowing that time into someone’s heart is worth far more than our earthly hours. It’s worth far more than gold.
Love has no measure, friend. So love lavishly! Love behind your closed home doors when nobody’s looking – because the truth is, Someone IS looking.
And when we land in our home wherever that may be one day, be assured – you will be so very welcome there!
Linda is a wife and mother, and Partner & Director of JPA Ltd, a global negotiation training firm headquartered in London. She is also Founder of LindaPaige, a fashion brand that empowers women to be a bold light on a hill in this world. Born and raised in South Africa, she currently lives in the UK with her husband and 2 children.
Linda started working at age 17 and spent most of her career in the corporate arena, often the youngest on the team enjoying powerful on the job training, learning from ambitious, accomplished executives what the marketplace wants.
Linda had the immense privilege of serving on former President Nelson Mandela’s PR team in 1998. As the final member of a team of 5, Linda and her colleagues organized the Vulindlela Water Supply Scheme in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, on Human Rights Day in March 1998. Awarded along with her team members for her performance in this role, she cites this experience as one of her distinct career highlights, referencing Nelson Mandela as her leadership standard in life, and continues her involvement today in fighting oppression and injustice.
After relocating to the UK in 2002, Linda won a national sales award in January 2006 from the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (UK) (ISMM) for ‘Best New Sales Professional in Britain’. She is passionate about sales and loves working with people, a combination that opened up fantastic career opportunities for her across geographical and cultural boundaries, working on negotiation training projects with some of the worlds largest brands such as Adidas, Network Rail, EON, Mercer, Nestle, Pfizer, Nokia, and Vodafone. Her clients cite her training style as “…highly motivational, passionate and performance impacting”.
Linda is extremely dedicated to her own personal growth and attends regular leadership training in the USA which she cites as life-changing. On a personal note, she is an adrenaline junkie continuing her pursuit of the next thrill in adventure sports, she loves traveling the world exploring good food, good wine and when there are gaps, she is home socializing with her family and friends.