Monday Musings…. Blast from the Past!

Most people are currently contemplating how this ‘new’ year is going to pan out, and what ‘new’ changes they’re going to make, you know, the typical eating better, exercising more, staying on top of things... But for me, these early days of 2021 have put my attention quite unexpectedly, in a different direction. In fact, I’ve travelled back to some good ‘old’ times.

A student I’d taught in 2011 reached out to me a few days ago. And even though she’s living in another province, neither distance nor time mattered – it was as if we were back at the College sitting in my office, which in those days was typically the hallway. She brought me up to speed on all that had happened so far on her journey. Her best education had been found at the University of Life. She had overcome many challenges, but it was obvious to me that she had graduated with honours.

She truly came alive talking about two things. The first, was her recent experience supervising a student at her workplace. She said she’d never imagined herself in the role of a ‘teacher’ but, absolutely loved mentoring the next generation of helping professionals. I told her how proud I was of her for carrying on the legacy I talked about on the first day of class: to guide those coming behind us to become beacons of light in the darkness that often overshadows mental health.

The second, was her disclosure that she had recently become a Christian. She was so excited to share with me her discovery of God’s unconditional love for her in Christ. She spoke with amazement how God had placed her in my path so many years ago, and that even if we never get to meet again in person in this life, we’ll be able to spend eternity together.

And then two days later, I get a phone call in the middle of the afternoon. Now, if I don’t recognize the number, I don’t answer it. I figure that if it’s important, they’ll leave a message. (Telemarketers don’t leave messages, at least not on my phone.) But it wasn’t a number that came across the screen, it was a name.

Being middle-aged, I racked my brain to place the person. I asked my husband and he said he had a faint memory (after all he’s older than me), and then I said I thought this person was at our wedding, (why that thought came into my mind, I do not know) but I still couldn’t make the full connection. So, I decided to call the number back.

The person on the other end is living in Ottawa now, and had been wanting to reconnect for some time. I have to admit I was still trying to place her as she was asking me if I remembered this person and that person. It’s kind of awkward when the person on the other end knows you, and you’re scrambling to picture a face or conjure up a memory, and you’re too embarrassed to say it. So, I said it: I think you were at my wedding. Umm, no I don’t think so,” she replied.

As it turns out, this person came from Quebec to my Ontario Catholic high school across the border, just for grade 13. So, we only really ‘knew’ each other for 8 months. And doing the math 😊 that is 0.012% of my life and hers to date.

It was a great conversation, and truly took me back 38 years – did I just write that? I could certainly picture her now as we reminisced. She updated me on her life, and then I got to share how my life had changed from high school, and how (just like my former student) I had become a Christian in university.

I told her that the night I surrendered my life to Jesus, I said a prayer. I told her I didn’t really know how to pray anything other than Our Father or Hail Mary, so I just spoke these simple words: “God, if you’re real, take me and use me wherever that might be.” And then I told her my life has been an adventure ever since, and that God has used me to help people often in the worst possible moments of their lives. Never did I think, I told her, that I would have had the career or the life that I have had. And she said: “I saw it. I knew you would.”

Now, I don’t know if she was just being kind or flattering me, but I still am wondering what initiated her call. Why would I be on her mind after all this time? When you think about it, we spent very little time together in the grand scheme of her life. But obviously, even that short time was meaningful. Sometimes I think we forget just how powerful our interactions with people can be, and how important it is to savour relationships.

These two encounters remind me that nothing ever happens by chance. The people you meet, even if for a short time, are placed there for a reason. There’s more going on outside of our awareness than we realize. Every minute, every day, month, or semester is already planned out by God. God is intentionally placing people in my path and yours, even in this lockdown environment. That’s incredibly exciting to think about. More exciting than new diets or exercise equipment 😊

So maybe instead of making a ‘new’ resolution this January, determine to focus on God’s goal:

Remember the former things of old;

for I am God, and there is no other;

I am God, and there is none like me,

declaring the end from the beginning

and from ancient times things not yet done,

saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,

and I will accomplish all my purpose.’ (Isaiah 46: 9-10)

Now, you’re not going to believe this, but I dug out the guest book from my wedding… and she was the first person to sign it! How amazing is that!!

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