No Coincidence: Everything in Its Right Time
It’s said that people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. But really, regardless of the length of time, it’s always for a reason. Sometimes a person comes into your life only for a brief period–five minutes, two weeks–not enough to qualify as a season but for a very specific purpose. And, sometimes, that purpose is to remind us to—as an old friend used to tell me—“give things a spiritual surrender.”
Whenever I would fret to him about my futile efforts to sell a new book, to get a better promotion, to find the perfect relationship, he would throw up his hands and tell me to “give it a spiritual surrender.” Truthfully, I was not at a place in my life then that I could’ve given anything a spiritual surrender. Surrender wasn’t in my vocabulary.
To me, I had to move heaven and earth to make things happen. It was all about working, struggling, effort…and lots of it. And yet, there were still things outside of my control. Not that I had to stop working at things, but that I needed to surrender to the realization that when it was time for everything to line up, it could line up on a dime.
Without me ever lifting a finger to make it so.
The more bizarre the circumstance, the more obvious it was to me that something greater was at play, weaving together disconnected bits and pieces of life to reveal some awful secret to me just in time to prevent catastrophe. Or, by the same token, weaving bits and pieces, people and places together so that one look into each other’s eyes and we knew that we were destined to spend some time together. Those things were what he meant by the expression “spiritual surrender.”
It wasn’t just “letting things happen.” Or even “allowing things to happen.” It was more a sense that everything will come in its own time and place. When it’s right. No sooner, no later. And, struggle as we may, there is very little we can do to make things happen on our own schedule in the best and rightest way possible.
Which brings me to a man I’ll call “Seaside,” whose brief foray into my life was, I believe, for the specific purpose of reminding me to give things a spiritual surrender.
Seaside was in my life for less than two weeks and we never even managed to have a deep conversation during that time. We also never managed to meet in person. In the long run, it was obvious that this was not someone I was meant to be involved with, except for enough conversation to understand that we are not suited to one another at all. None of this is in any way negative and I’ll take it all as a very gentle lesson. The thing I will remember most about Seaside is the bizarre circumstances through which he came into my life.
My focus was not on looking for a relationship. My focus was on just about everything but looking for a relationship. Really. Only a day or two before, I had finally let go of emotional baggage I had been carrying for years and was feeling better about that, but I was so busy! I was working every night, almost until bedtime, overwhelmed with responsibilities, squelching rumors, and keeping backstabbers at bay. My family was in the middle of changing residences, changing jobs, and taking care of emergencies with injured and ill elderly grandparents. Life was too busy for me to even think about romance.
Seaside, as it turns out, lives in my neighborhood. Only a few blocks away. We shop in the same grocery stores. We buy our gas from the same gas stations. We drive the same roads every day. And yet, if not for a fluke, we never would have known of each other’s existence.
But there’s more to it than that. We work for the same employer. Just a few blocks from each other. We have lunched by the same lakes and in the same food courts. There was the pet he adopted from a local shelter that came with a collar that had my name taped to it.
Sorry. No way of explaining that last one.
But for all the, literally, walking in circles around each other for months now, we still never would have known of each other’s existence if not for one small factor that pulled the other bits and pieces of our lives together at one place in one time. Years ago, I signed up at a national website and posted a profile on its forum. I’ve seldom been there over the years and only about twice in the last year. Last year, when Home Depot’s database was hacked and my credit card number was stolen, I spent the next several months updating various accounts that that card number had been attached to. I was accustomed to receiving emails from various websites and utilities asking me to update my card number.
I thought the message I had received from this seldom visited website forum was related to the Home Depot hack. I logged in to find it was an unrelated glitch, and that glitch was what introduced me to Seaside, who lived in my neighborhood, who worked close to me, who adopted a cat with my name on its tag. Not in 100 years of trying my best to line things up could I have ever managed the feat.
And so, this is a reminder to me that everything can and will come together in just the right moment. It can’t be rushed and it can’t be delayed.
And it certainly can’t be accomplished by my hand alone.