I was talking to my mom once awhile back, and she said that she was only joking when she says she is worried about me. Then she said, “No, I don’t worry anymore for you. I remember laying awake at 2 in the morning and worrying and you would come home and say, ‘don’t worry, Mom, I was just at Eli’s house.’ I guess you got your wish. Now you’re always at Eli’s house.”
Oh, the insight of our mothers.
When I think back on what it was like to be friends with him before, I can’t really remember a whole lot of our conversations. I don’t remember much about what we talked about. I mean, I know we talked about the yearbook when we were in annual class and I know we talked about John the 1st when we were in the gas station, but I don’t really remember any specific conversations. I remember snippets here and there of specific conversations. But I don’t really remember much of our conversations or what he said or what he thought about things.
I have a vague recollection of thinking he was just a huge downer, that he saw everything in the worst possible light. He could look at the dark side of the happiest accident. But I remember him being really funny and clever about it. He was trustworthy and full of integrity. He was fundamentally a good person and definitionally safe. I remember he felt the same then as he does now. Seeing him again, after ten years, he seemed no different, not at the most basic level where I feel who people are. More than all of that, though, what I really remember was an overwhelming urge to be in his presence. When I was with him, I never wanted to leave – not even at 3 in the morning, after 6 hours in a gas station. And when I wasn’t with him, I was having conversations in my head. He wasn’t the only person I ever felt that with, but I think I didn’t see it as clearly with him. It seemed to settle into the background.
And, now, it’s really lovely to look back and see God putting that in my heart. Even if I never noticed it at the time. Does that mean that we were supposed to get together back then? Does that mean that this beautiful mess we’re in is God’s Plan B or Plan F? =) I don’t think so. I used to think that’s what that means. But, now, I think that maybe that Eli-shaped hole was forming when I was 17 so that a lifetime later when I saw him again, he would fit so perfectly that I wouldn’t think twice about loving him on sight, marrying him on a whim. After 17 plus years of him fitting so perfectly in my heart and mind, how could I doubt that he would fit just as perfectly in my life?
And it puts me in mind of God’s salvation plan. I mean, we look at the Garden of Eden and we think, oh, look at the beautiful thing that God meant for us. We were supposed to live in the Garden and walk with God for all of eternity in beauty and joy. Then Eve or Adam or whoever you want to blame went and messed it up and then God had to scrabble around for the next few millennia until he finally figured out a way to get everything back in order. But I think God looked at his own love and community and came up with a way to portray that and it was thousands of years of human hatred and sin and violence counterpointed by Jesus’ supreme sacrifice and the gift of the Holy Spirit. And to make it all make sense, he put a God-shaped hole in our hearts even though he knew it would lead us to sin just as – if not more – easily as it would lead us to him. And, after going through life with this God-shaped hole in our hearts, feeling it, trying to fill it with any other thing we can put our hands on, how natural to grab with both hands the thing that finally fits? Fits so perfectly it’s like it’s always been there. Fits perfectly because that space was set aside for him before the beginning of time.
And how could that be a mistake? It’s not a mistake, it’s all part of the plan. So was everything else: Adam, Eve, the Serpent, the Fall and every other beautiful, horrible thing that’s happened since then.
Including all the “wasted minutes” and “missed opportunities” that are my crazy, jacked-up life.
He has made everything beautiful in it’s time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. -Ecclesiastes 3:11