You know those seemingly random encounters that just really leave an impression? Conversations with strangers waiting in line somewhere or sitting next to you on a plane? Meeting someone at a party or other event?
You’re with these people for a minuscule amount of time–minutes or hours–yet there seems to be a genuine connection … and then you part ways.
Have you ever wondered about these meetings of happenstance? What was the reason? Why this person at this time?
Do you ever think that if life circumstances were different a real friendship could have developed? That if this were the movies a real friendship would have developed?
What are we supposed to make of these meetings?
I wish I had an answer, but the truth is that we may never know the why or wherefore in this life.
However, if the encounter seemed more than coincidental, it probably was more, and we should first just be grateful to God because “all good giving and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17).
If the experience made such a mark on your heart and mind, who’s to say that it didn’t resonate with the other person as well? Maybe there’s a lesson that can be learned from the other person or maybe it was simply supposed to be an experience of pleasure and cheer conversing with a fellow human being.
“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
-Fred Rogers a.k.a. Mister Rogers
Or have you ever wondered why some friendships last a lifetime and other friendships, so important for a period of time, seem to fade? Again, there doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason.
Sometimes, the years lend perspective, and we can look back and see how God allowed those friends to be in our lives for a reason — for mutual need or help. “Some people come into your life for a reason; others only for a season.”
I also believe that if the friendship was true, you can pick up where you left off should your paths cross again.
Yet all of these meetings and partings with strangers, acquaintances, friends — they have the capability of leaving behind a yearning ache in your heart. Humans are by nature social and relational. We are made for fellowship and for communion with God and with one another.
Sadly, in a sinful, broken world, “good-byes” and “what ifs” can leave their painful, wistful imprint. Because we can’t see the future and we don’t know when or if we will be re-united.
But we must hold on to hope and to trust in God’s goodness.
Though only in my twenties, I have lived long enough to know that sometimes those people who you thought you’d never see again re-emerge in unexpected times and places. So say “see ya later” instead of “good-bye.”
Pray for your friends, acquaintances, and those “could-of-been” friends you randomly meet. If someone is on your heart, reach out in a tangible way — call or write that person. Heed the old saying, “If you want a friend, be a friend.”
If the circumstances surrounding that incidental encounter are such that it would be appropriate to try and strike up a true friendship, be courageous enough to do so. You never know until you try.
Finally, I strive to hold on to the consoling hope of heaven. If we cooperate with God’s grace and mercy, we can hope to be re-united with those for whom we’ve cared and those we’ve loved, however briefly, on earth. In heaven, we will have an eternity to love God and love one another.
“Friendships begun in this world will be taken up again, never to be broken off.”
-attributed to St. Francis de Sales