When You Think You Know People

by | Jun 27, 2012 | Uncategorized

H and I sit in blue vinyl seats in front of the board scrolling digital with arrivals and departures. A woman behind the desk frantically clicks keys, shuffles through boarding passes, when a flight attendant pulling his overnight case distracts her. “I know that guy, the flight attendant,” I whisper to H.

He laughs. He hears me say this often, how I know people. As newlyweds lying on the couch watching television one night, I recognize a classmate on a game show. Then I spot a college friend playing a major role on Jag sometime later.

It’s common for me to walk through an airport and run into someone I know. And H, if he was skeptical before, he believes me now. We’ve upgraded to first class after a reunion with that flight attendant. (That was before all of his swanky Sky Miles.)

Sometimes I avoid reunions. Like the time a flight attendant happens to be an old boyfriend. Luckily, he’s too busy passing out trays at the front of the plane to notice me. Or maybe I avoid eye contact every time he passes by. Whatever.

Then I bump into people I know but can’t put into context, no matter how hard I try.

I’m in the first row on Southwest; you know, the wide one with club seating. A blue-eyed, curly blond sits sandaled across from me.  We exchange smiles and eye contact, both admit we know each other but can’t place exactly how.

Throughout the entire flight, we wander through our personal histories by decades, trying to find some common ground. Because we both know definitively, we’ve met before. Where did you grow up? Go to school? College? Church? Where do you live now? Have you been in any kind of ministry? Missionary?

Nothing. Natta. No connection. At all. However, we’re certain in knowing we’ve met before.

I actually start to think that perhaps she had a brain injury and that’s why she isn’t remembering. No kidding. Because that’s never happened to me before. Ever. I can still see her face like it was yesterday and only God knows how we met before that plane flight.

And perhaps all this connecting with random people while traveling, it starts while I’m an impressionable college student in a Romanian hotel lobby. When a group of Marines wander by, overhear our mission team speaking English, and engage some of us in conversation.

I tell them about my Marine cousin from Houston, wonder if they might know him. Sort of like asking someone that lives in Canada if they know your cousin from Nebraska who lives there now. It seems like a dumb question after I hear myself ask.

When I tell him the name of my cousin, he smiles and says, “Yes, I do. He’s my roommate back home.”

My hand covers my mouth and I step back. Not just for the surprising serendipity, but also for the lesson I learn about the omniscience of God in that holy moment. 

Because while watching television, sitting in airports, flying across the world, navigating new culture, bumping into old friends and making new ones, He is infinitely aware of our existence. He is present in all places, at all times, even when we forget that. He sets the bar on knowing people, remembering the forgotten.

Our father in heaven knows our frame and remembers that we are dust. He knew our inborn treachery, and for His own sake engaged to save us. ~Isaiah 48:8-11

Linking with Imperfect Prose, WLWW, Walk With Him Wednesday, Life in Bloom, Thought Provoking Thursday. 

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  1. debra elramey (@elramey)

    You are always amazing Shelley. Why does this story not surprise me? Because everything about your life is just wonderfully amazing.
    We come from a small town in NC called Fremont, about the size of a pinpoint on a map. When my brother lived in California he ran into a girl and they got to talking. He asked where she was from of course, as strangers always do.
    She said, “I’m from NC.”
    “Where from NC?” he asks.
    “Oh, you wouldn’t know. It’s just a one-horse town called Fremont.”

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Love this story Debra, I’ve had ones like that too. I should be writing them all down, my memory isn’t as good as, well you know. And I think my life is pretty ordinary, but glad you think it is amazing. Things look more amazing standing on the outside looking in don’t they? Thanks for coming by, its always a treat to see you here.

  2. Lynn Morrissey

    Shelly, this is so fun! This kind of thing happens to me all the time. I met a girl in college, whom I swore had been in my Kindergarten class. I had never seen her since we were five. Amazingly, she *had* attended my gradeschool. Just last week, I meet an octogenarian backstage at the Muny (you know that from your St. Louis Days) in the costuming department. In his youth, he sang on the Muny stage with my uncle, and they later shared an appartment when they sang on Broadway. What are the chances that I would meet him now? You are so right. God does know our name and our frame. I call Him the Divine Networker. They are *no* chance meetings–of that I’m convinced. I am so grateful He has introduced me to you through cyberspace. You are a pleasure to meet, Miss Shelly, and such an encouragement! God bless you!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I don’t believe in chance meetings either Lynn. And I agree, so grateful that we met here. You are truly a gift.

      • Lynn Morrissey

        I am grateful for your kindness. Bless you, Shelly! I was just reading your response to Pam and wondered if you have ever done any speaking? It goes hand-in-glove w/ writing, and this would allow you to interact with some wonderful women. Just a thought….

  3. Diana Trautwein

    This happens to me occasionally – but never with an airline employee who can bump me to first class. Way to go, Shelly!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      That was a good one. I can still remember the smile on H’s face when we moved up. His legs are so long, it probably meant more to him than it did me at the time. 🙂

  4. cshocklie

    It is funny how your personal circumstance influences what you read. I expected a totally different post based on my own conclusion. I thought I would be reading about how someone you thought you knew well had disappointed you, then I realized, oh right, that’s MY blog post.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      When I layed down to go to sleep after posting this last night, it occurred to me that someone could take the title that way. I thought about changing it but it was really to late.

  5. oncealittlegirl

    I envy your ability to recognize people. I believe I am disabled in that way. I may not recognize my own mother if I run into her where I don’t expect to see her. I have a blind spot.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I’ve always been a people watcher, its been like a school for life in a way. As a child I sat and observed adults interacting for hours. I guess it just crossed over into adulthood. Not in a weird, vouyer kind of way, just obeerving to learn. Now I think I just have an expectation that I will run into someone, so I’m always looking. Thanks for visiting Adela.

  6. Christina

    There are no coincidences with God. I love how you wove this story! It’s amazing the connections that are made in our journey on this earth. And all at the hand of God. Wonderful post!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I’ve always imagined sitting in heaven watching a review of my life and being amazed by all the connections and every day miracles that take place. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could do that?

  7. Heidi

    Beautiful writing Shelley. He is indeed in the middle of it all!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Heidi, so glad you visited here, thanks for leaving a comment.

  8. Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

    Love this story. I’ve often wondered if I may first have run into my best friend when we were kids sitting in a pediatrician’s office. Her family lived on one side of the big city, and mine on the other, and we each went to one of the more well loved doctors in that city (an hour drive in for each of our families). We met in college, but I think… wouldn’t it have been cool if we’d been side by side, swinging our legs on those doctor’s waiting room chairs, never knowing we would grow up and become life-intwined? Amazing… Once in college, I remember hearing a name of a boy I had known and played everyday with as a kindergartner then moved far away from. Tony Lombardo. Instantly, I scanned the room for him, but never did find him… always wondered if we could have both been on that same campus… So wondrous how God intertwines our lives. Maybe that woman was just someone you met some other time in a similar situation, where you didn’t really know each other, but had connected in a moment when her face was imprinted on your mind.
    I have a friend who always runs into someone he knows… no matter how far he travels. I love that. He’s a very engaging guy with people, and I have a feeling you are too… 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Pam, I love those stories you just told. They sound like the making of a good story actually. You know, I used to engage with people so much more than I do now. I think living with introverts has zapped some of my normal extroverting behaviour. They are so annoyed by my talking to people sometimes that I have given up a bit I think. Oh, it makes me teary saying that. And writing, well its an isolating behaviour isn’t it? But put me in a room of people and I come alive, its just the way God made me and I want to know how other people live, what motivates them to do what they do.

      • Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

        Oh, one thing I’ve had hammered to me these past few years is…be who God created you to be, Shelly! My mom was like you… could talk with anyone, any time, any place. We used to laugh about it too, especially in grocery store lines when she’d strike up long conversations with strangers. But really, I envy that. I am more introverted, I guess, though I’ve had to push myself outward in the work world, so I really don’t feel overly timid, just more of a thinker. I never feel I think as fast on my feet. All my life working, I’ve heard in reviews…”she’s a good listener, but needs to be more aggressive” – made me feel as if listening was a fault. But when I took a church class on spiritual gifts, it suddenly hit me that God made me who I am because He thought that was a strength for me… not a flaw to overcome. In reverse, it sounds like your strength is coming alive in a room of people! So, don’t let anyone zap it out of you 🙂 I definitely share your desire to know how other people live, what motivates them etc. and that’s one thing that attracts me to lovely blogs like yours…Thanks for the idea about stories, I hadn’t thought of that 🙂

  9. Mindy @ New Equus - A New Creation

    This is so cool! I’ve had my own “moments” but at my age I’m with the curly blonde! LOL Awesome post!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Mindy, I know what you mean, right there with you and her. Thanks for following btw, its a pleasure to have you join this community.

  10. Jody Collins

    shelley, proving once again there are no coincidences, just God incidences….I’ve a post to write that’s been swimming in my head about seeing God in the moment.

    I’m guessing you’re an easy one to talk with everywhere you go. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yes, I like that Jody. And I hope you wrote that post today. Got those words out of the water onto land! I just try to treat people like I want to be treated. That’s all.

  11. Ashley Haupt (@ash6783)

    Wow… stunning stories. I’m blessed by his omniscience in your life. Thank you for sharing!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      You know, all those incidences came to me in the shower the other day! God does some amazing work with my memory sometimes. Thanks!

  12. Beth

    Your posts remind me of “Brian’s” the eloquent prose guy at the blog hops, Shelly. Only your posts are not prose but stories that you weave into meaning for all of us. Thanks for this look at how God is omniscient even in the unforeseen moments of life.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Wow Beth, that is quite a compliment. I think Brian is a stunning writer. Appreciate your encouragment. Thank you.

  13. Andria

    It helps to remember this when you don’t run into someone you know and you feel very alone. You are never alone and remembering to wrap yourself in the moment and listen to his still small voice will help you appreciate those times.

    And yes! To everyone that was wondering about her personality. She is someone that God has given the gift of being able to find common ground with everyone she meets. She makes everyone feel welcome and at ease. To know her personally is to truly be blessed.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Andria, this made me teary. At first, I didn’t realize you were talking about me (duh!) and now I am just overwhelmed by your gracious compliment. Thank you.

  14. Jennifer@GDWJ

    Oh my. What a great God-inicidence, pointing to our Great Big God! Way cool.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I love that you chose God Bumps and God Incidences for your blog hop. It makes me think about the ways in which God shows up in surprising and stunning ways. Thanks Jennifer.

  15. tara pohlkotte

    sometimes this world seems so big and other times? you feel how very connected we all are. interwoven into a greater design.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      So true Tara. And that time when I was in Romania, it seemed like the world wasn’t as big as I thought it was.

  16. Susan Stilwell

    I LOVE those God-incidences! I especially love meeting friends of friends in Christ. There’s an immediate bond that’s so fun.
    Thanks for sharing, Shelly!
    Hugs from VA,

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Susan, thanks for your email today, appreciate it.

  17. brian miller

    nice…i love meeting new people…and finding people that i have known….some really cool interactions…and when we step into those moments, its pretty amazing what he can do with them as well….JAG, really….we love that show…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      did you see the kind comment Jody left me, comparing me to you? I think it might be the nicest compliment of the day!

  18. kelliwoodford

    That’s right. He is intimately involved in all our affairs, whether we ever notice Him or not.

    So cool that He catches your eye in this way . . .

    Encourages me to look for Him in “co-incindences,” too. Thanks.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I find myself always looking around. Trying to be alert to who is around me. I never really realized why exactly until I wrote this. Hope you find the God-incidences in the every day too Kelli.

  19. simplystriving

    We are all but a grain of sand…and yet…we’re all on the same beach, watching…waiting for the tide.

    Love those moments of proof that it is in fact a small world!

    You craft a great story, Shelly. Always enjoy my time here!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I love that first line Nikki. Read it out loud to my husband. Nice to visit with you, hope to pop over at your place tomorrow. It’s been a full day today. We’re all back in the nest!

  20. kelli- AdventurezInChildRearing

    great story – I’m still waiting to find out where you knew her from??? 😉 My mother and I sat down to lunch after church one day & a man, his wife and daughter came over to the table so excited to see us! They introduced their daughter Sarah – joined us for lunch – insisted on buying our lunch – we had a great time. Then they left & my mother and I looked at each other and simultaneously asked “Who were those people?” they were SO nice – but we couldn’t help but to giggle! We still don’t know.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Me too Kelli, still waiting. That story is hilarious. I can’t believe you had lunch with people neither of you knew.

  21. Dana Pittman

    I love when this happens. I let my mind skate over all my past experiences, places, people. Especially with profile pictures, conferences, and such. Your words are beautifully written and soothing. Thank you. I plan to visit again…soon. 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Dana, thanks for visiting and I do hope to see you again.

  22. Kim Hall

    We ran a family friendly inn for about 5 years, and were so surprised when we’d have guests who knew some of our family or friends in farther flung places. The world is a very small place! That was actually a lesson we drove home to our girls when they were little, about how important it was to be nice to everyone they meet, and to not speak ill of folks. You just never know who would know who!

    I used to think that coincidences were just that. When I became a Christian as an adult, though, I saw how God had been patiently working in my life for years, putting together these serendipitous meetings for me, gently shaping my path and guiding me to those who would help me use those gifts he gave me that I didn’t even realize were there.

    Now my husband and I pray for our paths to cross with those whom God would like us to serve. The results of those prayers have been pretty humbling and amazing.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Kim, thanks for sharing this with me. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to run an inn and meet all those people from all over. And you’re right, it is such a small world and He is so good at connecting us with each other.

  23. kd sullivan

    Love those moments when God has orchestrated two person’s lives for a God Bump!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Me too. I think it happens in blogging all the time. 🙂

  24. Sylvia R

    Second post I’ve read today, and both had happy “God-incidences”! Love it! Isn’t He wondrous, showing His personal care for us as His individual children in this way, over and over?

    • Redemption's Beauty

      those God-incidences help build our faith don’t they? sylvia, I’ve tried to leave a message on your blog numerous times without success. Not sure what is wrong but know I’ve visited.

  25. Michelle DeRusha

    I can’t believe you run into that many people you know from somewhere – that hardly ever happens to me (and never someone who can bump me into first class!). Maybe I’m just not opening my eyes? I fail to do that alot.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I think it helps that I went to a college where there were people from all over the world. It made the chances of running into someone even higher. And the fact that I’ve lived as a nomad, in so many different places most of my life.

  26. Deidra Riggs

    No matter where we go, we always meet someone who knows someone from Nebraska. Seriously!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yeah, right! I actually did an outreach in Omaha once. Stayed with a lovely family there. Looking forward to visiting that wonderful state next year!

  27. Joanne Norton

    God sometimes has done similar for me… but mostly to connect one person to another. Then they forget how wonderful it was that I “created” them. I’m a “network” person, I guess. Not traveling enough now. Oh, well. But it is so much fun to have the Lord inforce these overwhelmingly brilliant moments for us. AND when we get to Heaven we’ll be seeing all those people we met and wanted to, and might be introducing some to others. Sounds like a good time!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I love connecting people too Joanne. It was the thing I loved the most about my job as a feature writer for the Anglican Mission, connecting leaders and pastors from different parts of the country for mission. It’s so fun.

  28. Tanya Marlow

    What I most loved about this was that sudden thought that God could be having a dialogue with the angels along those same lines, ‘Hey – you see her? I know her.’ That amazing realisation that God really does know us and recognise us and knows how we all link up. SO cool.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      What a wonderful perspective Tanya. I have similar thoughts like that about heaven. Imagine how I envision it, is nothing like the reality.

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