Loving My Actual Neighbor: 7 Practices to Treasure the People Right in Front of You

By Alexandra Kuykendall

Regardless if you consider yourself a follower of Christ or not, you most likely are familiar with the concept (Jesus’ command) of loving your neighbor as yourself. While loving your neighbor appears to be packaged as simple advice, instruction and wisdom, in reality it is quite complex to unwrap.

Who is my neighbor? is the most common question we try to weasel out of all of the time. A neighbor is every single person created in the image of God and through God’s own likeliness. So yes, that means the cranky old man down the street from where you live along with your frenemy from high school and the opinionated individuals who sling hate, judgment, and/or negativity all over social media, plus everyone in between.

Ahem, every human being.

But the idea of loving your neighbor goes so much deeper than just identifying who your neighbor is. How do you love your neighbor? To what length or extent? What does loving my neighbor look like? And the list goes on.

Enter, Alexandra Kuykendall’s new book, Loving My Actual Neighbor: 7 Practices to Treasure the People Right in Front of You.

It’s not new news or fake news that love is certainly not in the air across the United States and frankly, around the globe. Polarization, isolation, conflict, and FOMO are reoccurring symptoms of sin made worse by the use of social media. Even though people are able to be instantly connected to news, people and events because of the fast-paced manner of social media, the general population is feeling more alone, isolated and divided than every before. Physical presence, interaction and communication are limited when we choose to invest our time in the world at our fingertips rather than the physical world we walk in.

Despite our upbringings, beliefs, opinions and motives, we all want the same things – to be seen, heard, known and loved so we can experience a life of peace and unity. Not to burst your bubble or be Debbie Downer but unfortunately that will never fully happen in our broken world. Nope. Sorry. No utopia this side of eternity. However, we can coexist despite our many differences if we actually choose to love one another.

But how?

Influenced by the principles outlined in 1 Peter 2, Loving My Actual Neighbor offers the reader practical and encouraging ways to work towards achieving our common goals. This involves:

  • Humbling ourselves before our neighbor
  • Asking questions about our neighbor to gain insight into their life
  • Quieting our voice in order to observe & listen
  • Stepping into awkward situations, conversations, or silence
  • Accepting the truth and the reality of your relationship with your neighbor
  • Lightening up (the mood, situation, burden, etc)
  • Freely giving away our time, talent and treasure

As a self-proclaimed extroverted introvert, I found this book both insightful and personally challenging. The author herself claims to be an introvert so learning about some of the ways she loves on her neighbors deeply encourages me to go outside of my comfort zone.

This was my first experience with Alexandra Kuykendall’s work so I can’t really compare this book to her previous publications. Regardless, I absolutely loved her writing style, authentic voice, and vulnerability. She had me nodding along while jotting down notes on how I can be both a better neighbor while loving my actual neighbors.

Loving My Actual Neighbor is a book everyone can relate to and learn something from. The theme of this book is so needed right now in this world. If you are looking for change and inspired to put in some work to impact your sphere of influence, I highly recommend adding Loving My Actual Neighbor to your must-read book list.

* I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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