Sunday, July 21, 2013

making friends

One of the funnest parts of our last two months of visiting under-five clinics is that Bronwyn has had the chance to meet a gazillian new people and make all kinds of friends. She has had the time of her life playing with big kids, little kids, babies, adults – the whole range of people and every game imaginable. I often look at her with great envy at how easily she adjusts to new situations and people and puts herself out there without reservation.

Though on the flip side, it has been sort of funny/tragic in some instances when the little tyke on the receiving end of Bronwyn’s super-friendly advances reels back in sheer terror of the pale toddler hurling herself towards him. The horrified “Mayo mayo mayo…” can roughly be translated,“MOM! The abominable snow lady has offspring!”

I’m super thankful that Bronwyn has not yet figured out that her would-be playmates are crying because of HER. When she is met with emotional melt-down on the part of the little people she was hoping to play with, she always looks back at me as if to say, “Ma, why she crying?” And I tell her the same thing every time: “Its ok baby girl, keep loving her, don’t give up.”

I feel sympathetic to the challenges of making friends when you don’t look like you belong. I’ve walked into a room with all women and hear them all start talking about the mizungu – it doesn’t exactly make me feel welcome. I’ve struck up conversations with people who think its funny to mock my clothes or my accent or my use of Bemba. At the ripe old age of 30, I still get my feelings hurt when someone communicates through word or action that they really don’t want to be my friend.

Right now, Bronwyn doesn’t seem to know that she’s different. She lifts up her little arms to be picked up by black people and white  people without reservation. I wonder how it will make her feel when one day she realizes that that lady is shoving her child towards us to purposefully scare him and get a laugh out of it. I pray she responds gently and is not easily offended. When she realizes that kids are stroking her hair because its so blond and fluffy, I pray that she is feels loved and honored and not like a baby goat in a petting zoo. I pray she learns to have a thick skin when dealing with insensitive actions or even rejection, but always keeps a soft heart when trying to initiate friendship and win over a pal who might be initially timid.

These are the thoughts on my mind and the prayers of my heart.

Baby girl, you have the bluest eyes ever and they absolutely sparkle with life. Anyone who catches your gaze for more than two seconds is enamored. I pray you always remember the power you have to win people over with that love. Love always wins.

After all, "if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another"... 1 Jn 4:11

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