Nine Doors Down

{Reposting this from 2010. I need the reminder}

9.doors.downIn the two years we’ve lived in this subdivision, I’d seen her on my walks.

Perhaps she was rolling her trash out to the curb. Or in her front yard watering her flowers.

I’d smile and said “hi”, just for a brief second.

After all, my neighborhood is big; my life is busy.

So I’d pop my Ipod earbuds back into my ears.

And I’d keep walking.

Nine doors down.

Just nine doors down this past week flashed lights and sirens and all things alarming.

A fire? I thought as I turned into my sub, returning from  an errand-running venture.

My mama heart raced. My son was home alone. Had he burnt some toast and set the smoke alarm system blaring?

Or worse?

Had a car caught fire or a power line fallen?

As my car crept closer to home, I saw it was not my house. Relief for my soul. And though the rescue vehicles were parked in front of her house, no fire appeared to be blazing at my nine-doors down neighbor’s house either.

“Must have been a false alarm”, I reasoned to myself.

It was two days later when I heard the awful news.

No fire. No smoke. Just a saddened soul.

You see, nine doors down, something happened in the soul of my nameless, flower-watering, ‘smile and say hi’ fellow human being; something told her this life was not worth living anymore.

So she made sure she stopped living.

Her heart no longer beats.

Her flowers still grow, but she can’t water them anymore.

I can still walk by her house, lost in the Jesus-music blaring on my Ipod.

But there will be no more waves. No smiles as I stroll. And no more thoughts of, “I should stop and find out her name. I haven’t really met this gal yet.” If I’d reached out and befriended her, in our friendship would she have seen Jesus? Would that glimpse of the perfect God in the life of imperfect me beckoned her to have a relationship with Him too? Would she have found peace instead of finding a way to end her emotional pain?

God only knows.

I cannot beat myself up. But I can do something.

So can you.

We can pause, permitting God to tap us on the heart,  gently interrupt, and rearrange our day.
We can go deeper; beyond a “hi!” to an authentic “Who are you?”

When God knocks on our hearts we can go knock on their doors.

Will you do it?

Will you at least try?

Then, leave the results up to God.

Our job is obedience.

God’s job is results.

And trust me, it is AWFUL to get to know your neighbor through the tales and tears of her relatives as she lies lifelessly nearby in a wooden coffin.

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17

May we all respond to those taps on our hearts today and not ignore them and keep walking. God just may use us as He saves a life.

After all, remember…..

It isn’t a far walk.

It is just nine doors down.


If you hear God tapping too, will you respond? Will you think of one person whom you see often but have never gotten to know? Then, do something.

Ask them their name. Thank them for bagging your groceries faithfully for ten years. Hand them a thank-you card if they are someone who serves. If it is a neighbor, invite them for coffee or soda or sweet tea. Offer kind words or a hug. Anything to show God’s love. Who in your life is just ‘nine doors down’? I’d love to know.


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  2. I too live nine doors down. Each day is a struggle to find meaning and reason for a life of loneliness.
    Daily I pray for strength to endure an insupportable existance. Continue
    your message and work. There are many of us just nine doors down.

  3. Thank for sharing this! I am a suicide survivor of 15yrs. When I was dealing with my depression and feelings of inadequacy I prayed daily for a friend. I prayed for someone to come along and be an encouragement. My life was spared by the grace of God. As a wife and mother to a young son I strive daily to not let those around us be complete strangers. I have learned that you never know when someone simply needs a friend.

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  6. Wow. Conviction and still shots are flowing through my mind. Very powerful post with a reminder that, you never know. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Thank you so much Karen for that reminder. I can’t do a lot from my wheelchair. But I can send a note to each of my friends & neighbors just to let them know I am thinking about them & praying for them. Love to all you sweet friends.

  8. Thank you for sharing Karen!! I believe I recall reading this the first time you posted, but it was a good one for me to revisit as well. Oh to take the time to really connect and share. I know I’ve been blessed when others have done that!!

  9. WOW! What a powerful word today! I am searching my life for who is 9 doors down, and how I can be available for them.

  10. Karen, what a jolt! Thank you for being transparent about your faith walk and encouraging us to push on toward the prize of the upward calling of Christ Jesus!

    Praying for the family and friends of your nine-doors-down neighbor…

  11. If this didn’t hit everyone over the head, we’re all lost.



  12. I am so sorry.

    Thank you for sharing this and reminding me to keep trying to meet my neighbors too. Everyone is so busy with their own lives and it feels like my efforts don’t matter. In fact, when my daughter was in a hip spyca cast and wheel chair I have never been so studiously ignored. But I will keep trying. For Easter we delivered jelly beans to our neighbors: 2 houses in each side and 3 houses across the street. It is not huge, but it is something.

  13. Oh Karen, this truly hit my heart (again!). Thank you for faithfully sharing your walk with us, it is a challenge, faith-builder, and encouragement. I have two new families to get out and meet today! I tried during Christmas to take them cookies and candies, but they were never home when we stopped by. And the other new neighbor was sick, so I only met her husband and passed over the plate. Got me some lovin’ to do in the near future.

    Thanks again, for your faithful charge.

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