Accidentally On Purpose
How God Puts Us In The Right Place At The Right Time
I am forever drawn to stories where God places people exactly where they need to be for the good of others and themselves. Most of my closest friendships have come at an accidental occurrence or situation that I could have never planned or predicted. And although superficial things tend to immediately draw me to another person like a friendly face, cute haircut, or a sharp outfit, I have found that my lasting friendships have come at that heart of our brokenness.
Whether it is illness, divorce, grief or other challenges in life, I truly believe that women willing to share their vulnerabilities offer a true gift to those around them. It is within one woman's struggle where another woman is strengthened by their story. Bravery within ourselves offers courage to others.
Recently I was shopping with my mother, sister, and our daughters. While asking for my daughter's advice on a ballerina pink, soft jacket, another random woman overheard and began to join our conversation. She eased in by complementing the color and coziness of my potential purchase and remarked that she too had contemplated the same jacket right before I noticed it. Her kind eyes and eager voice were familiar and as our conversation unfolded from what I assumed was going to be a 30-second exchange instead turned into a 15-minute discussion from clothes to her daughter-in-law's ovarian cancer diagnosis. She was a woman needing the compassion from another woman. She was seeking out a listener. One who could help sort her pain through random clothing and conversation. I recognized her because I was her not that long ago, standing in those same uncomfortable shoes, looking anxiously around for someone to help. We expect to find someone familiar to be the person we need yet, sometimes comfort and peace is found in the places and people we would least expect. Who would have guessed that a complete stranger proved to be the best thing we both needed that day. God's placement of people in my life has proven to be a win over and over again. This was no different. That particular day I was the listener she needed. I felt lucky to have been the one to offer her hope and encouragement. I know how important that is.
I would love to say that I’ve always been that person who makes themselves available at any given moment or time, but that wouldn’t be true. Most of my journey of newfound kindness and compassion has come from the brokeness I’ve experienced in my life. I have always said that women can read women and when you have felt hardships and pain they become easier to recognize in other women.
Meeting my new friend Karen wasn’t a chance encounter at all, it was a godly one. It was through Him that I was able to provide comfort to her by sharing my own story. What I offered may have appeared to others as being a one-sided gift to her but, that wasn’t true at all. Before running into her that day, I had begun questioning my newest writing journey. Unsure if sharing my stories and regularly putting out my vulnerabilities was worth it and making a difference to anyone, anywhere. I have realized the older I get the more transparent I need to be. What good am I to someone else, if I pretend that everything is okay or silence myself out of fear and insecurities rather than admitting a difficult day, week or season in life. Her reaching out to me removed my doubts and restored my belief in how much we all need each other. I needed her as much as she needed me.
Being courageous enough to expose myself is not easy for me and probably wasn't for my friend Karen that day. But in doing so, two strangers that God put together provided each other comfort, empathy, and a reminder of how important it is to be aware of God's timing for things and how the people He puts in front of us are always at the right time and the right place.