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Graceologie Episode 33: Alexandra Kuykendall


Alexandra Kuykendall on the Graceologie with Gwen Smith podcast

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WEBSITE: AlexandraKuykendall.com

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OVERVIEW:

My guest on episode #33 of the Graceologie with Gwen Smith podcast is Alexandra Kuykendall. She’s a podcaster and the author of a new book, LOVING MY ACTUAL NEIGHBOR. As Christians, we know we are called to love our neighbor. But what we too often don’t know is how to begin. How do we love our neighbor? Where do we start?  Alexandra lays out the framework for where to begin. From practicing humility to listening with understanding to being generous in our relationships.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Our mothers give us a vision of who we can become as women. Fathers give us a reflection of who we are in God’s eyes. When your father is absent there becomes a certain pull in the narrative as a young woman.

GWEN: You were raised by a single mom. What have you learned that you’d like to speak to the single mom?

ALEX: I know that being a single mom is hard. To the single mom who is trying to figure out how much to involve my child’s father in his/her life… I’d say, if he is a safe person your child needs him. You have a history with this man … but your child needs to know that they matter to their dad. If he is not a safe person, be intentional to be sure she has a trusted man in her life and he is reflecting to your daughter that she is valuable.

GWEN: Tell me the story behind your new book, LOVING MY ACTUAL NEIGHBOR.

ALEX: Jesus walked toward people. I want to be a person who walks toward people.

We tend to gravitate toward people who look like us, act like us, believe like us, are the same race as us.

“Love can’t be separated from humility.”

Why not ask God, How can I be more humble and reflect this macro understanding that I am not God and You are, Lord? How can I reflect that in my demeanor when I approach someone new or someone that I don’t know well? 

I think if we put that suit of humility on when we approach conversations they are just going to go better.

GWEN: There’s definitely a tension when it comes to loving our neighbors as ourselves. What do we do about this? What has God showed you?

ALEX: I came up with 7 practices. Things that I will never master, but will get better at the more I work at it.

#1. Hold a posture of humility

#2. Ask questions to learn

#3. Be quiet to listen

#4. Stand in the awkward (Stick it out and take relationships to the next place when everything gets uncomfortable. Don’t run away.)

Ephesians 6:10-17 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

#5. Accept what is (There are a lot of things in our neighbor’s life that we cannot change, nor should we try to change.) “Where can I partner with you in life?”

We can be in relationship with people who live differently than we choose to live and God is okay with it. In fact, I think it’s the Jesus way.

Showing love and empathy with people who are different than us or believe differently, and reflecting their feelings back to them does not mean agreement.

#6. Lighten up

Find common ground where there is common ground and don’t force it when there is not. There are so many natural connection points. (Potty training, moms of young kids, the weather, construction, something happening on the local news, trash pick up) Be okay with simple, silly and fun.

We so often focus on the places where we are different instead of focusing on the places where we can connect.

#7. Give freely

Time, Talents, Treasure

2 Peter 1:2-8 “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

PRACTICAL HELP

Ask open ended questions.

Sit and listen and allow more silence than you’re comfortable with when someone else has finished talking.

Ask follow up questions. “Tell me more about …”

Use REMINDERS on your calendar to show up for that person – to celebrate with them, to comfort them… to let the know that their life matters. (This can even be a quick text!)

LEARN THE OTHER PERSON’S STORY

Use your “wait time” well. When you drive kids around, are waiting in line… encourage someone instead of scrolling on social media.