Gratefullness in the unlikely conversations

” You Americans have difficulty attaching in your relationships.”

My first thought was “what psychology book had she been reading lately?” This beautiful woman that I met only a few weeks ago on our bi-weekly trip to the park.  But I knew that she was trying to prove her extensive knowledge on my culture because she is, well, obsessed.

Many people here are obsessed with American culture. I once had a girl ask me where I was from and she said ” OH my GOD! And touched me giggling and gasping like girls do with teenage superstar hearthrobs.

” What am I the first American you have met?” I asked sarcastily, “YES!” was her reply.

We often have people asking us all kinds of crazy questions about America and Hollywood. Josiah was meeting with a grown man in his 40’s for language and he asked J to translate the Britney spears pop song on this grown man’s ring-tone (also father, husband and owner of a successful business).

When I first met this woman I told her my name and she started calling me Heidi Klum. Imagine a grown woman wearing a niquab (black veil over her face only revealing her eyes) calling me Heidi Klum in an endearing tone. Please, NO! Don’t associate me with her!

I asked her how she knew about her and she said she has read more than 5,000  American English books. That’s probably why she knew English so well. She is the first person I have met here with  perfect sentence structure. Even fairly fluent people are always missing prepositions here and there and using a plural when its supposed to be a singular. Yet she has never set foot in America, although SURPRISE SURPRISE, her ex-husband is there and her brother is living in none other than Sacramento, California.

“Why do you say that?” I responded to her judgment of my failure to attach.

” Why haven’t you called me or come to see me?” she asked.

” I came to see you Wednesday but you weren’t here” I said.

“I got bored and went to visit a friend,” she confesses.

” Sorry, I could have called, but I am not much of a phone talker. I used to talk more on the phone when I didn’t have kids, but now its just  frustrating cause I can never hear or complete my sentences, let alone focus for very long. ”

She trails off on some random advice/ scolding me on letting my baby run the show by answering his every cry. I responded with shock and laughter. This was an Indian talking to me, she definitely grew up in this cultures that surrounds me. The one that always wants to shush all my children when crying by giving them candy or telling me the baby is hungry, go feed him, NOW. I reminded her of that. She couldn’t deny it.

But I came back to the deeper cultural discussion. ” If I was Indian how often would I call you?”

” Every 3 or 4 days,” she says, “you don’t have to talk for long, just a quick hello will do.”

So this conversation corrected an attitude in my heart today. You see I have been battling with what I interpret as a whole host of  “needy” people beating down my door.  And like most people, I RUN from needy people. (by most people I mean American, *shy smile* how enthnocentric is that? Especially for someone who now lives in a country that contains alot of the “most people”  in the world).

When every friend you make here asks you why you haven’t come by there shop, house, etc. in 2 days? or why you didn’t call them to tell you arrived safely in Delhi when your train pulled in? or showed up on your doorstep to hang out at 8 in the morning when you just left from having dinner at their house at 11 pm the night before.

My instinct to all this has been, BACK OFF. Noooo, I didn’t say that but it makes me feel claustrophobic and has left me wondering if we are just magnets for the lonely co-dependent types, or are Indians just like this. As much as I don’t understand it, it’s probably the latter.

Well, today I decided I was definitley reacting and looking at all this from my cultural lens. Independent is good, attractive, healthy. Co – dependent is unhealthy.

But not in this culture. Co-dependent is healthy and independent is somehow fractured, broken. Independent doesn’t make sense here.

So maybe to communicate to my friends that I care and I am really invested in my relationships with them I need to just act and make that call as I step off the train dragging 4 children behind, in front of, all about me, with my luggage and trying to keep up with my husband, to tell them I arrived safely, so far.

This somehow reflects God’s desire for his church. To need, rely on, and support one another. In the relationship of staying connected in these many small ways we are reflecting His very nature. We are being one body, one mind, one spirit. And here amongst a people where the majority aren’t walking in his spirit there is this redeeming quality of connectedness.

As I stood in the kitchen, my barefeet on the marble, beginning to throb, I mulled over these things. The song from George Straight came out of the speakers from my bedroom ” I saw God today” and I knew it was a gift from Him showing me his presence in new ways, in surprising sweeping statements from beautiful Muslim women that don’t really know me, but somehow manage to pinpoint that I actually do have problems attaching in relationships.

And yet there was a little person in his bedroom crying in his crib just a few steps away. Tears were sadly streaming down his face as I was getting dinner placed on the table, cause he has no problems attaching and he wanted to be picked up and cuddled, talked to.  If his country theme song were playing it would be ” Aint no place that I rather be, on your hip for eternity”. And though sometimes he picks the most difficult times to want this,  I was quickly reminded of how very thankful I am to have this 18 pounder building my left bicep as I try to get things done around the house.

As  I carry him in the sibs room giving them cleaning instructions before dinner, a text comes thru from my friend here in India. She is an expat also and just had her 16 week ultrasound. Baby has a heartbeat (cause she has had one without, and I know that fear all too well, so I prayed while kneading the pizza dough just an hour before) but her fluid is low. Her hearts seizing, and mine with her. Will she lose again? Never has the weight on my hip and little hands pounding me happily in the chest felt so good!

It is such a “funny” thing to be stressed by my children’s neediness one minute and thanking God immensly for it the next.

forgive me if I  end this post. My 2 1/2 half year old just wandered in my room, blanket in tow ” I need some cuddles”.

note to self: attachments are healthy, make more of them.

holy experience

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11 thoughts on “Gratefullness in the unlikely conversations

  1. Dear Heidi–you sound just like me! I have the same problem and your dear Indian lady could say the same to me and it would be spot on. I still have that problem (of connectedness) and I am 74. I could say there is no hope for me, but since I seek to follow the One who embodies hope, I know this challenge is on His “to do” list for me. Another friend of mine said once that friendships are work. Not too different from marriage. Thank God that He is in my life and I can still learn–I hope.

  2. Loved this post! I enjoy hearing about everything you are experiencing in India and the lessons you are learning. This lesson made me stop and think. I also struggle with wanting to push away people I perceive as needy, but I also tend to keep myself at a distance from people if I think they may perceive me as needy. To me, neediness is akin with weakness. Why is weakness such a bad thing? Must be that American in me. Your post is a great reminder that neediness can be a good thing, sometimes people just need extra love and understanding, and we are really missing out if we don’t reach out to eachother.

    I hope your friend’s baby makes it fullterm. I will say a prayer for her!

    Love, Emily

  3. I love this! It’s a great lesson for me too, as I get smothered pretty quickly too. Funny that Samantha sings the same song as Taron – that made me laugh out loud. I can’t wait to see you again, face to face with coffee and muffins and children hanging off of us. Miss you, my friend!

  4. I needed that today. Thanks for the reminder of the reason we are here and a glimpse into your world and daily life. Its funny how we can be a world apart and yet that spoke into my small sphere here.

  5. Wow Heidi this was very interesting reading it and comparing it to Brazilian culture! Here in brazil we get the same thing, people just show up wanting to visit and they get very upset if you don’t just show up at their house even after you tell them you probably won’t because you feel really uncomfortable
    Doing that. As far as Raising children here it is quite the opposite. Luke and I are looked at funny when we set limits for our kids and that we have a set schedule for naps and school, etc. we also don’t coddle like brazilians coddle, where they stop everything for every cry or whimper. I’ve had people tell me they like how we raise our children and then there are those who constantly question us. But anyway, yes I need to make more
    Connections and relationships here especially with Brazilians althought it is difficult to understand each other!

  6. Thank you for sharing, Heidi. I love your reflections and wisdom. Life is truly all about relationship. In the end, it is what truly matters. To love God and to love our neighbor. And to receive the gift of God’s love and others’ love for us.

  7. Thank you for making time to share this wonderful glimpse of your life with us. I think God is growing your heart in beautiful ways through the friends he brings into your life. Awesome to realize we will be with you soon. Maybe you can take me to meet this friend! LOVE you!

  8. I really enjoy reading your blog and I have finally learned how to reply, You ahd the family live a fascinating and busy life. We are so glad to have a part in it. I’m not sure I could have handled that even when I was young, let alone how. God is obviously taking good care of you.

  9. Just reading this blog today. Made me stop and think – ‘guess it’s okay when guys don’t call me back if I just wanted to hear their voice but got voicemail instead. Well, I meet them every Sunday at church.”. I used to take it personally but Sarah often reminds me guys don’t like to ‘talk’ much but ‘do’ things. But then how do you ‘do’ stuff together when one has family to take care of. Why can’t we talk 2-3 times a week to my friends at church than see them only on Sunday or occasional event, I often ask Sarah. She giggles. I guess I know why!

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