Hannah the Nurturer

We've recognized in Hannah for a while that she is really great with nurturing younger kids. Whether helping with younger kids in our church, or engaging toddlers in our home when friends come over, or taking care of Sender, she labors to make toddlers and preschoolers feel comfortable. She is very gentle and patient, for hours on end.

But this personality trait is not manifested likewise with kids her own age. She does make friends, but she tends to be more cautious. Part of this may be because she's not always quite sure how she fits in, and that she is examining and evaluating how she might do so. It’s challenging to reach out to others when you feel like an outsider.

I've been concerned for this as we've settled in Allendale. Through conversations with her, I didn't see her dramatically strive to connect with kids her own age, especially at the Boys & Girls Club. She was comfortable for sure, but not seemingly on a mission to engage her friends. Was it because she has felt like too much of an outsider to be hospitable?

But even as an “outsider” one can still be hospitable. Biblically, the idea of hospitality (xenophilia) means "loving strangers." In an isolating place like Allendale, SC, you do have to work hard to reach out. For some here, it’s about earning trust, because they have been taken advantage  of by outsiders. And for others, it’s just about being used to doing things themselves, or relying solely on close family.

But the more I observed her, I think it's fine that she doesn't feel the need to dramatically strive to connect. Why? Because to her, being in Allendale and making friends here is really no big deal. The kids look different, and they come from different backgrounds, but so what? Hannah, being a nurturer, just wants to be a kid who hangs out with other kids.

I like that. I like that she sees herself as fitting in with all these new friends in Allendale.

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  1. Joey, I could insert Abby's name in each spot you have Hannah's and not change a thing. (Well, except that we don't live in Allendale.) Abby, too, doesn't seem to strive to connect to others on some deep level, but hangs with peers from school, scouts, church, etc. and is happy. Being different from how I work, I have learned to roll with it. God created her to be her own precious self and I love that.

  2. That's funny, Aimee! Yeah, I can totally see the similarities.

    Coincidentally, Hannah and I were just talking last night about when Abby had a sleepover at our house in Simpsonville.