The doorbell, a towel and a hide-a-key

Loving a stranger in need

The doorbell rang in the middle of the day.  I assumed it was the UPS man, but trod down the stairs anyway to have a look.  When I opened the door, a stranger wrapped in a towel over her bathing suit with no shoes on sheepishly said, “I’m sorry to bother you, but we’re renting down the street and we’ve gotten ourselves locked out.  Can you help me?”

As if it wasn’t enough to see this poor gal completely embarrassed by her towel-only-wardrobe, she went on to tell me they had been locked out for 2 hours and were currently missing a doctor appointment for their daughter they’d waited six months to get!

She asked to use my internet to check email and see if the rental agency had responded to her request for assistance, (made hours earlier from another neighbor’s house who was now gone to work.)   Of course, I obliged.  And there it was, an email saying where the hide-a-key was kept.  Voila!

I offered to walk down the street with her to be sure they got in, so they’d have a phone handy if they couldn’t find the key. She was thrilled to have that extra assurance, and we chatted amiably as we strolled down the street.  Once we secured her way in the rental property, we said our farewells as they rushed to get in touch with the doctor for the appointment they were now missing.

I walked back down the street praying that they would get in to see the doctor for their daughter.  How frustrating to wait six months and then have something silly like being locked out prevent them from getting to their appointment!

Unexpected Gratitude

A few days later I opened my front door to find a beautifully handwritten note and sweet bouquet of flowers from the visiting family who was locked out:

In the end, our prayers were answered: they got an appointment later that same day so their six month wait wasn’t in vain!  They expressed their sincere gratitude for my help, (which wasn’t more than 10 minutes out of my day) and offered to do anything they could in the future to help me or my family.  I was thrilled for the great outcome, and the flowers weren’t bad either.

Lessons Learned in Loving a Neighbor

  1.  10 minutes can make a world of difference in the life of someone in need.
  2.  A personal, heartfelt thank you note is rare—and it goes a long way.  (flowers are an added bonus!)
  3.  When you go the extra distance to love a neighbor you could be the answer to someone’s heartfelt prayer.

Question: Have you ever helped or been helped by a stranger? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Sarah Beckman inspires people from the stage and on the page. She is the bestselling author of Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving your Neighbor in their Time of Trial, which is filled with practical tools to love people well in the rough patches of life. Sarah speaks to audiences across the country on topics such as loving your neighbor, sharing your faith, safeguarding your marriage and digging up your talents.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “The doorbell, a towel and a hide-a-key

  1. You miss out on that neighborly contact especially in a busy city like London. Most people are nice to each other though and will give a smile but often that’s where it stops. Nice story- thanks for sharing.

    • Fran, I see what you mean. Funny thing is, so many people even in neighborhoods in the US are missing out on it, too! Too many closed garage doors, busy lives and self-centered comings and goings that often get in the way of reaching others and connecting in relationships. We can all do better! : ) (myself included!)