“Maybe God brought me here just to meet you,” my new friend, Henry, said plainly. “I mean, it’s probably not just for that reason, but who knows?”
~ ~ ~
My coworker, Garth, came back into the office and sat on the couch across from me with Henry in the room.
“Hey, Henry, anything exciting happen over the weekend?” Garth shot me a wink. Looked like he was gonna try to pry the truth out of Henry.
Without even turning around, Henry responded, “Eh, not really.”
Garth looked at me with a massive grin on his face. I couldn’t help but smile back.
“So, no big news? No life events? Just a normal weekend?”
Henry turned around for this. “I mean, not really.” Henry glanced at me, and I just shrugged ignorantly. Two other people in the office stared Henry down with me and Garth. Four sets of eyes all asking the same question finally turned on the lightbulb inside Henry’s head.
“Oh, well, yeah, one thing . . . ”
Later that day, Henry and I headed to our Bible study spot on the second floor. Conversation on the way was more about editing newsletters than real life-stuff.
As we sat down at our table together, I gave in to the nagging questions inside. I had to ask him.
“So, Henry, what happened with the move? I knew it was a possibility, but I didn’t think anything was happening yet. Also, when exactly did this take place?”
I’d managed to maintain my composure, but my genuineness must have eked out a bit. Henry gave a kind of “uh” sound as he started his answer.
Apparently, it had all happened in the drop of a hat. His wife was offered one job, she accepted, and then it fell through right away. Before they could even process that loss, a second job suddenly appeared. She accepted, and they began planning to move.
I listened graciously yet earnestly. Henry was rather casual about the whole thing. It was as if he were talking about choosing tea instead of coffee at a cafe.
I thanked him for telling me and told him I was happy for him. And I was, for sure.
A few days after our Bible study, Henry and I chatted more about his impending departure. He had apparently set a final day at the office — four weeks away.
He’d just passed the one-year anniversary of working at my church. That’s a short time, honestly. We were discussing why God would bring him to work at the church at all, if only to be here for a year.
“I mean, I’ve learned a lot,” Henry said. “I don’t feel like I’ve contributed a ton, though. If anything, I definitely gained more from working here than I gave.”
While I didn’t agree with that, I understood where he was coming from.
“You’ve definitely been a great friend to me,” I told him. “And you’ve definitely helped me with my ministry endeavors. And I’m hoping you’ll continue!”
Henry chuckled and nodded. And that’s when he said it:
“Maybe God brought me here just to meet you.”
I was shocked. Did he really just suggest that?
“I mean, it’s probably not just for that reason,” he said, “but who knows? I’m sure our meeting was part of it — both for your sake and mine.”
A profound statement; it was so powerful to hear that from him. Honestly, in my mind, Henry was only my friend out of sympathy or pity or merely convenience.
He happened to work with me, so he might as well talk to me; it hadn’t occurred to me that Henry actually held our friendship in such high regard.
Henry has it all together, I thought. And yet he’s willing to say that meeting me was part of God’s plan? Even a plan just for his life?
I was too dumbfounded to properly respond. I just commented, “Yeah, who knows, man!”
As we finished talking, I had a new sense of strength in our friendship. What a blessing to have a friend like Henry.
Do you ever feel you were placed somewhere just to meet one person? Or vice versa? Do you struggle to believe that someone could be placed near you just to have met you and heard your story?
People come in and out of our lives, for seemingly no reason; but they all shape our lives. I had one year with my best friend before he died, and it forever shaped who I was, both good and bad. Somebody I used to baby sit twenty five years ago came back into my life just as all seemed to be falling apart (Father’s day 2017 was a living hell) and needed my help to rebuild his life after drug addiction; he moved to Missouri six months ago. My best friend at church was the first straight person I told my entire past; he shared with me how he found God in prison after a life of gang activity and drugs. A roommate of mine stole all my stuff and I never saw him again. Another friend robbed a store; and when he showed up at my apartment I called the cops and got him arrested. The brother of a girl I dated twenty years ago I met again as he was working at Walmart.
Life is a strange journey. Everytime I think I have it all figured out, God throws me for a loop, reforming me who I am with all the people I have met, both good and bad, shaping who I am. I am the better for it.
“People come in and out of our lives, for seemingly no reason; but they all shape our lives…”
“Life is a strange journey. Everytime I think I have it all figured out, God throws me for a loop, reforming me who I am with all the people I have met, both good and bad, shaping who I am. I am the better for it.”
I sooooo relate to these comments, Bradley! So much so, in fact, that I didn’t know whether to start here, or to comment back to Dean’s posting first.
Unlike you, though, while I know in my heart that God is always working, and that I will indeed be the better man for it, I’m in a season right now that makes that welcome conclusion to it all, somewhat foggy and difficult to see.
So… Thanks for the reminder to hold on to the hope of that better ending!
I love your last comment, Badley- “I am the better for it.” I believe God definitely brings people into our lives to ultimately draw us closer to Him. Life is for sure a strange journey. Thank you for being a part of it with us at YOB!
I definitely believe that. Kind of like what I had said in the comment I think in an entry or two back of yours. We are definitely in people’s lives for a season and a reason. Maybe I just see it more cause I always have the sensation that few to zero people are permanent in my life besides my husband. Everyone seems to move or I move, and being that we’re missionaries it’s never just the next town over, but a few countries or continents away. Many times the relationship completely dissolves, but I have had a few remain strong. Many times being in the discipleship role I have felt very privileged to witness someone’s growth and change. I may have never been on the receiving end of a comment like that, but it is very much so something I believe in
I can imagine you are all too familiar with this. Your perspective is incredible I am sure based on these friendships that have been in your life!
“Maybe God brought me here just to meet you.”
Two different people have said this to me, Dean. And you’re right! It is a profound statement… with both the potential to do great emotional good, or to do harm!
It was a number of years ago (well over 20, now) that John, a fellow soldier and close buddy from church that I use to spend a lot of time with as a “single,” said this to me.
The story is very similar to your’s and Henry’s, in that John eventually finished out his time in the military, married, and moved on. I do remember being saddened by his leaving, but I was also newly married by then, and I don’t recall that sadness being overly difficult to bear.
I think it was John’s own willingness to verbally acknowledge to me that he valued our friendship just as much as I did, that made his departure somehow easier to go through. And I believe I’ve literally just had an epiphany, as to why that is…
There was a distinct and meaningful “Closure.”
The other person who said this sort of thing to me—I’ve written of him so many times beneath these YOB blogs, already—was my brother and very close friend, Oscar.
There’s something that you also say in this blog, Dean, that is just as “profound” to me personally…
“Henry has it all together, I thought…”
That’s the real rub, isn’t it? Isn’t that the real reason why Henry’s statement meant so much to you… the value that you placed in Henry and his friendship, I mean?
This same kind of valuing is certainly the reason that Oscar’s statement has also impacted me in such a negative way. It’s because, for me (and I’m speaking strictly for myself, now), this valuing is a sharp, double-edge sword, in that I also tend to value myself through the relational expressions (and/or lack thereof) from those people whom I have also value the most!
I don’t know why I’ve stumbled over this before, without seeing it quite so clearly as I do right now!
Oscar also said to me, early on, how he believed that God brought us into each other’s lives. And we both added expressions of how we hoped that our brotherhoid and friendship would be the “forever” kind of friendship… and then, just like that, at the end of five years of sharing so much with each other within our friendship, Oscar is telling me to “take a hike,” without so much as any descent or meaningful explanation as to why our “forever” friendship suddenly meant so little to him.
Because I valued Oscar and his friendship so very highly, the devaluing of our friendship was also a very personal devaluing of myself through Oscar’s eyes…
…and I’m still suffering the emotional impact and spiritual consequences of that self-abasement, nearly two years after the fact.
It’s all a sobering reminder to me to value myself through God’s eyes, and not through the eyes of anyone else… not even those whom we are closest to in relationship…
No, especially not through the eyes of the people we are closest to in relationship!
I’m not suggesting that we avoid getting close to people, altogether. That’s not God’s plan, the way I see it. But I’m starting to realize—for myself, at least—that valuing myself through the eyes of another fallen person is actually dangerous and often suicidal form of idolatry.
“I am the Lord your God! Thou shalt have no other ‘gods’ before me.”
You are so right about the dangers of idolatry, fellow Dean. It can be a dangerous line to cross, a mistake I have made before. I am sorry for what happened with you and Oscar, but I am thankful you have been able to learn from it. Praying you continue to journey well!
In the end, it’s speculation. Why it necessary for us to believe that God is responsible for someone’s presence in our lives? As Dean B points out below, what if this person leaves us in five years with no explanation after we have poured our selves out to them? Are we going to blame God for that too?
I can’t go there. People come and go. Each friendship brings something to the table for the participants. The friendship may last 20 years, it may not. It might end in the blink of an eye. It’s the experience that counts I think. If God makes that happen, great. Can’t really prove that though.
[…] final day, man.” This was it for my friend, Henry, working at our church. The four weeks since our conversation had passed way too […]