I've been spending some time remembering old friendships.
Well, not just old friendships...but friendships over the years.
It all started recently...when my old boyfriend from when I was 14 years old...friend-requested me on Facebook. I realize that, for many of y'all, this would not be a big deal. You may still know your boyfriend from the 9th grade...you may still know his family, where he lives. He may go to your church. No big deal, right?
Well, it's huge for me...because I grew up as an Air Force brat, and I lived all over the United States...and in 2 foreign countries. I've written about that before...how temporary my friendships were, because just about the time I would meet someone and begin to form a relationship with them...we would move. Again.
Or, they would. That's the life of the military.
Not gonna lie. I remember very few people from my childhood. VERY few. I think the earliest friend I remember is a girl from the 3rd grade. I remember we lived in Toledo, Ohio. I remember our school was down the street and I could walk to it. I remember that this girl lived a couple of houses down. I remember going to her house and meeting her sisters...and that they had a closet full of clothes.
And, that's it.
I don't remember anyone from the 4th-7th grades. Not one person. I can't even conjure up an image in my mind. How sad is that?
But in the summer before my 8th grade year, we moved to Taiwan. If you aren't familiar with Taiwan, it's a teeny-tiny island, 90 miles from mainland China.
In fact, not to one-up Sarah Palin, who said she could see Russia from her house in Alaska...I could see mainland China from mine.
Not really...my eyes weren't that good.
But I remember several people from my time in Taiwan. Not like I would ever look them up or anything. I don't remember most of their last names. There's nothing like living on an island, or on a military base, to make you lose any stereotypes or prejudices you might have...because, as I'm sure you can imagine, not a lot of Americans living in Taiwan. Most of the American kids went to the American school there. And we made friends with the ones who moved in...red, yellow, black, white, brown. Did not matter. We'd see them walk in with that all-to-familiar deer-in-the-headlights look...and, after a few months or a year...we were friends, and we cried when it was their time to leave. Because no one else can understand what that life is like...more than someone else who is living the same way.
I remember a girl named Janice, who could do sign-language like none-other. I thought she was ah-MAY-zing. I remember a Nazarene girl, who had long, beautiful hair. I remember my African-American friend, Judge Dudley III. I thought he had the coolest name ever. And I remember a girl named Donna, who made me a friendship bracelet out of leather that I wore for a solid year after we got back to the States...before it dry-rotted on my arm and fell off in the shower.
Attractive, I know.
And I remember my little boyfriend. This was before cell phones and internet and all of that. Think: Little House On The Prairie days. Ha! We would hang out at school, and he would come see me at my house in the afternoons or on the weekends. It was innocent and sweet. I remember there was a wall that separated our neighborhoods, and instead of walking allllthhheeeeewaaaaayyyaarrrrounnnnd, he would jump over the wall. I remember my Dad saying the most he ever saw of that boy was the bottom of his shoes, as he sailed over that wall.
And when my Dad's new orders came (to move), we had to move out of our house, and into a "guest house" for 3 months (so that our belongings could be shipped). My little boyfriend and I broke up...because I was leaving, and I knew that I would never see him again.
I remember that a week before we moved, he took a bus and came to see me at our guest house. I think he came every day that week. It was really sweet.
And then we moved...and I never saw him or heard from him again.
Until last week.
I've just been thinking about the people God has placed in my path over the years...the ones for good, and the ones who were not-so-good. Honestly, there haven't been very many not-so-good ones. But even looking back on the 2 years we lived in Taiwan, I can see God's hand of protection on me and my family.
And, it's true what "they" say about hindsight being 20/20. Some things are really hard to go through at the time...break-ups, moves, losing a friendship, etc...but now, looking back, I can see so many blessings that have come from the life I lived. And not only do I see God's protection...I see His plan. I see His provision. I see His guidance.
I see His hand...all over everything...even those times when I was trying to do things on my own, or go my own way.
Years and years ago, I took a Kay Arthur Bible Study on the names of God, and I am reminded of one in particular today: El Roi. I thought it was so funny, because "ELROY?" But over and over again, I am reminded that, no matter the circumstances...whether I created them myself, or they happened out of my control...God was there. El Roi: The God Who Sees.
I love that.
"She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: 'You are the God who sees me...'" Genesis 16:13