Friendship can be discovered in unexpected places. Alexandra Kuykendall reminds us to remain open to others when they're different from us.
With a toddler in the jogger, a baby in my belly and fliers in my hand, I knocked on another door in my neighborhood. I had volunteered to spread the word about some changes at the local elementary school, so I was excited to see a mother with a baby on her hip and a preschooler wrapped around her leg.
Within seconds, I realized I needed to pull out my rusty Spanish to connect with this mom. Although that initial conversation included only a few details about Maria's situation, those details explained the lonely, overwhelmed look in her eyes. I wrote my phone number on the flier and told her to call if she ever wanted to walk to the park with the kids.
My days moved forward, filled with friends whose lives looked like copies of my own. I hadn't thought much about Maria until a month later when she called. Many stroller walks around the neighborhood later, I learned more details about her life that offered me some perspective on my own. On days when my stress level rose, I reminded myself of Maria's circumstances and felt my outlook shift.
One day I sat at Maria's kitchen table as our children played in the other room, communicating with universal gestures and giggles. Her eyes got big as I shared some of my own family's struggles. "I thought I was the only one with problems," she said.
I hadn't realized how much she needed to hear my worries to normalize her own. I thought my stress was obvious, but from her vantage point my life seemed to be a pretty package, wrapped in a perfect family. By being vulnerable and sharing the details of my life I was able to give her the same gift of perspective she had been giving me.
Dear God, help my child to find friendship in unexpected places, to find common ground with those who initially might seem different.
Written by Alexandra Kuykendall