I’ll be your friend if you let me.

We were the same age and seemed to have a lot in common. I remember thinking, “She’ll be my friend.” I was wrong.

Moving  to our new location overseas I believed making expat friends would be as easy as making friends has always been for me. Smile, engage in conversation, look for common ground, and make plans to see each other again. Easy. Actually, one of my favourite friendships started simply by shaking hands with a new couple at church and saying, “We look about the same age. Want to be friends?” And then we were.

Only now, in this new place, my smile and conversation weren’t working. I couldn’t make a friend. There seemed to be this invisible wall people placed themselves behind emotionally. I was new and my life ahead looked terribly lonely.

Six months after we arrived, a family returned from furlough. The wife came straight over and stuck out her hand. She smiled, introduced herself, and I felt like crying. After 20 years overseas she hadn’t disappeared behind the wall as so many others of lesser years had. I silently vowed never to disappear behind the wall either.

The years roll by. We say painful goodbye after painful goodbye. The wall sometimes seems like an inviting place. I understand now the emotional safety others have sought behind it.

But the wall is not for me.

I’ll be your friend if you let me. Let’s go walking together. Watch movies together. Come for dinner or a cup of tea. Bring your kids. Bring your good days and your bad days. You are welcome here. We’re all stretched thin and I know I’ll have to say goodbye to you at some point. In the meantime, I’ll treasure your friendship for what it is- a good gift meant for this particular time and this particular place.     

You are wanted here. It’s so very nice to know you. You have a friend in me.

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Anisha Hopkinson

Anisha was born to Chilean and Texan parents, first tasted missions in Mexico, fell in love with an Englishman in Africa, and now lives in Indonesia. She journals about cross-cultural life, helping people, and loving Jesus on www.namasayamommy.blogspot.com

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