(Photo by Selma Komisky)
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Walking A Strangers Footsteps
Friendship Lessons from Pocahontas
By Michelle Ochen
Pocahontas is a beloved Disney princess because she did not follow the path of familiarity, she did not choose the logical prince, she rowed a new way, and truly learned a new world.
Friendship is a beautiful gift in life, but it also comes with its choice of paths. You can play it safe and have friends who are most like you, similar backgrounds, dreams, and goals; or you can take a risk and have friends who are different than you, come from completely different backgrounds, and dream in a different color. One path brings comfort and familiarity while the other brings challenge and growth.
This is not a new concept; Jesus said in Luke 6:32 that if you show love to those who show love to you, what worth is that? In other words, it is easy to show love and friendship to those similar to us and who show it back, but when you are face to face with someone challenging, then the true principles of friendship come through. I think we have a jaded view in friendship. We think that a friend is someone we always get along with, who has the same desires and dreams; I would like to propose the different idea, as Pocahontas did for us on the Disney screen, that deeper levels of friendship can be found when we take a risk with someone who is not always easy to get along with or who does not see life the same way we do.
Most people choose friends who share many equal views in life. Pocahontas and John Smith saw very little in common. He saw the new world as wealth, she saw it as priceless. He thought life without modern structure was underprivileged, she saw less as more.
Friendship can offer you more than laughter and companionship if you are willing to take the risk of having friends less like you. Friendship can teach you new things and open your eyes to new ways of doing life.
My favorite line of the movie is, “If you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew.” I spent years of my life in Uganda (Africa). Far away from all the friends I grew up with, I had to make new friends. If sharing the same way of doing things, language, and goals was the way to friendship, I would have found no friends there. In opening my heart to a new view of friendship, I gained some of the sweetest relationships I have. I learned that my way was not always the right way to do things. I learned the beauty of seeing things through different lenses. I learned that disagreeing with someone is not the end of relatability, but the opportunity to find real love for another in exercising forgiveness and celebrating differences. I owe thanks to my African friends for many things I now do differently in life. They taught me new ways of doing mundane tasks and to not judge the way someone does something before you try it.
Pocahontas and John Smith never imagined the way they would impact one another, but through their willingness to learn from one another and their differences, they impacted two diverse people groups and showed what real love looks like. Imagine what impact your friendships could have on the world when you stop limiting them to familiarities.