Many many many years ago, Jane Odwong brought this girl into this world. For some strange reason in the days before the teletubbies and cool names, my parents were cool enough to name me Lala. A name which has stuck faithfully, one which everyone from my grandmother to my seven year-old nephew can pronounce without biting their tongues. More people know me as Lala than as Sarah. I hardly use my other names except for official reasons. Sometimes, I feel that it sort of prophesied everything I was going to be; my father’s biscuit, my mother’s “hand-bag” and confidant, my brothers’ punching bag, my sister’s sidekick, my nephew’s “teddy-bear” Aunt, my grandfather’s baby who can “do no wrong” and in my circle of friends; the girl who laughs and laughs and smiles till tears streak down her face. I was such a typical sanguine; playful, lively, sociable, carefree, talkative, pleasure-seeking, warm-hearted and optimistic. I used to make new friends easily. Circumstances and experiences changed me. My melancholic side took over. I became very serious, cautious, introverted and even suspicious on some occasions. I also got preoccupied with the cruelty and tragedy in the world and as such found myself susceptible to depression and moodiness. I read books and listened to music that fulfilled that innate need to empathize with characters upon whom fate has dealt a cruel hand. I noticed too that I started to do things by myself to meet my own standards. I’ve been afraid to smile because fate has not been very kind. However, I long to be the person that I once was. I want to be happy and free and to laugh again till my ribs hurt. I want to go days without worrying about what is going wrong and to focus instead on what is going right.
In all honesty, this has been a tough week. I’ve had to make hard decisions and be mean to people; things which I find naturally very hard to do. This brought me to question who I’ve become as a person. I noticed that I’ve been so afraid of being labelled as “my mother’s replica”. It is not because I am not proud of my mother or that I don’t love her. Lord knows I love her to bits and I couldn’t have asked for a better mother. She embodies Christ for me; she is forgiving, kind, loving, giving, faithful, encouraging and wise. However, growing up, I strove to be different from her. To be “strong”, tough, firm, focused, fearless, unwavering, relentless in pursuit of my goals. Mummy is kind, mellow, quiet, introverted, sweet as can be with the biggest and kindest heart I know. While I do not think I am as sweet or kind as my mother, I seem to have inherited many of her traits. And this scares me. Because sweet, kind people get taken advantage of way too often. Also, people sometimes mistake my humility, quietness and loving nature for weakness. I am firm when I need to be but I’ve always been afraid of getting hurt(And unfortunately, I’ve actually been hurt quite a few times). As such, I have been scared of being Lala; of loving without reservations, of forgiving people who have hurt me without a second thought, of limitless kindness, of relentless giving. In simple terms, I have been afraid to be like my mother and yet I am so much like her. Everybody sees it. I see it. And God in his mercies made me like that for a purpose.
An incident a couple of days ago sobered me up. A girl I know needed my help. She had been physically hurt and she needed my help. And so she came to me. I asked God why he often throws me in such situations. Last month, I had to intervene in domestic squabbles between the couple that lives next door. And then this week I had to encourage somebody even though my own spirit was low. It seems I cannot run away from being who and what God has called me to be. There are people that need me to be kind, sweet, giving, loving, forgiving, understanding, prayerful. Those people need me to be Lala. By being myself, I may probably be the only representation of Christ some of them may ever see. I have run away for so long. I have run so far so that I would “toughen up” and not be taken advantage of. However, I have realized this week that it is okay to be vulnerable. It is okay to be quiet, humble, kind and loving. It is okay to be all those things I’ve been running away from. It is okay to be just like my mother. The people that love me do so because of the person that I am. To my nephew, I am still that “teddy-bear aunt”, to my brothers, I am still that short petite sister they can bully and to my sister, mother and friends, I am still the confidant they can count on to listen and understand their problems. There is no need for me to be tough or firm or all those things that I’ve been struggling to be. My sister is all that and more. 🙂 I can take a back seat now and “open my heart and life for unimaginable risk”. I am Lala. I love people too much, I forgive too easily, I trust without reservation, and I am way too kind. I am almost exactly like my mother and there is absolutely no shame in that. It is okay for me to be me.