They say it is, but hindsight isn’t always 20/20. Sometimes we look back on things and times and people and places, and we only remember the good. Sometimes we look back on things and times and people and places and we only remember the bad. Sometimes we only remember the big things. Sometimes we make the small things into bigger things than they were. I find it interesting that often when talking to friends or family about things that happened years ago, we both have significantly different memories of any given event. There are different things that each of us has chosen to focus on when looking back at a particular moment in history, on a particular person, or a particular phase of life. Our memories are imperfect, but that’s not to say that there isn’t a lot to be learned from the past.
Lately I’ve been looking back over my life, and even more specifically over the past decade since I graduated from high school. I’ve been realizing that even though it seems, from the outside looking in, that it has been a string of random events, experiences and happenings, in reality, God has been orchestrating it so that it has been a perfect conglomeration of moments, ordained to fit together in a way that I could never have imagined or planned. I look back on some of the bizarre and seemingly insignificant instances that led to some of the “accidental” best decisions that I made, or experiences that I’ve had, or opportunities for growth, and I know that there are no accidents. And as I look forward to the future, and contemplate plans, and spin ideas around in my head, I take a profound sense of comfort in knowing that God has been faithful to me in the past, and I believe with my whole heart that He will continue to be faithful to me in the future. That doesn’t mean that life will always be easy, or that there won’t be hardships, heartaches, or tears, but it does allow to me to believe that there is always a purpose for everything, and that sometimes the unexpected ends up being best.
My friendship with Ben is one of the things in my life that makes me certain that God is in control, and might do things a little differently than I would choose to. It makes me laugh when I think of it, because for all intents and purposes, Ben and I have basically nothing in common, but he’s one of my best friends in the world. He’s a city boy to the core, with a Guyanese background, who hates winter with a passion. He loves Mississauga, refuses to go see western Canada for a string of reasons that make me laugh, and has very little interest in traveling. He’s an avid baseball fan, and owns more ties than anyone I know. He has a better sense of fashion than I do, and cannot comprehend the value in camping. He hates country music, and is constantly running late for everything. We met towards the end of high school, and I never saw it coming.
He became a Christian a while after he started coming out to our church youth group and exploring Christianity because of a crush he had on a girl there, and then he started hanging out with all my friends while I was away at my first year of Bible College. When I came home that summer he was a part of the crew. The whole group of us were practically inseparable that summer, and a large portion of it was spent in my parents’ basement watching movies and playing foosball.
I don’t know how or when it happened exactly, but somewhere between late night conversations at Tim Horton’s, and numerous hours on the phone, he went from being some guy who was friends with my friends, to being one of my best friends. I’ve had Christian friends for my whole life, but Ben showed me what Christian friendship could look like. I started carrying my Bible around in my purse with me because it seemed like almost every time we were together he wanted to talk to me about what he was reading in the Bible, or some sermon that he had been listening to. He may not even know this, but he taught me to look at Scripture differently, to think for myself, to be wary of bad theology. Maybe it was because he was a newer Christian and hadn’t grown up learning about God, but he taught me to dig deeper, to want to know more, to see things from another perspective. He was constantly asking me how he could pray for me, and that wasn’t something that I’d ever encountered in a friendship before. He let me be real. He let me be honest about my thoughts, my feelings, and my motives without judging me, even when they make me look like a terrible person. He’s like an older brother to me, and he’s the one I would tell anything to. And with my years of moving and traveling, he’s the one I’ve always been on the phone with, or in more recent and cost-effective years, on Skype with frequently. Ours is a friendship that has stood the test of time and distance, and is all the stronger for it. Bible College was great, but in some ways, I think I owe at least as much to Ben.
That’s not to say he’s perfect, or that our friendship is, because trust me, he’s not, and it isn’t. But, God has used him to teach me so much, and to open my eyes to so many things. He’s been a support to me through the ups and downs, through the good times, and more importantly, through the tough ones, and at the same time, allowed me to see him through his good times and his bad times. So there was no way I was missing his wedding.
The first time he told me that he thought Laura might like him, I laughed at him. I’d known Laura for years, albeit not well, and I was convinced that there was absolutely no way that she was interested in him. Well, here we are eight years later, and it turns out that I was wrong. Last year, as summer approached, he decided that he was finally ready to propose to her, and we started discussing various proposal options, ranging from insane to practical, and when I came back for a visit in July, a bunch of us helped him out in asking the big question. There were glow sticks and fireworks, and it was pretty epic. And she said yes.
Knowing that the wedding would be the following spring, I signed a shorter contract at my job in Korea when I decided to stay on for a second year. And so after finishing my job there, and travelling for three weeks, I flew into Toronto from England one evening in May and Ben picked me up at the airport as he has done numerous times over the years. I spent a glorious day and a half in Canada, doing laundry, running errands, and eating at Quiznos, before he picked me up to drive me back to airport for a flight filled with seventy or so of his and Laura’s friends and family, headed to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
After three weeks on the move in China, Kuwait, the United Kingdom, and briefly Canada, it was nice to actually stay in one place for a whole week. I actually unpacked; hung clothes in the closet and everything. I had never gone on an all-inclusive vacation before, so it was a new experience, and was very relaxing. A little weird and awkward at times, but a decent trip all the same. It was filled with sunshine, sand, sunscreen, and shade. I read, I swam in the pool and in the ocean, I went for walks on the beach, I ate at an all you can eat buffet, and while some of the people in the group weren’t altogether thrilled with the food, after being in Asia for so long, I was just pretty excited about all the options of non-Korean food! I made some new friends, and reconnected with some old ones. I slept, and I slept, and I slept. And it was wonderful.
And possibly the most wonderful part of all was when a group of about nine of us went to the twenty-seven waterfalls. I thought we were going to go for a bit of a hike, which apparently involved some climbing, and that we were going to see some waterfalls. Sounds cool, I thought. But I had no idea what I was getting myself into. After letting Andrew negotiate a price for a taxi-van, we all piled into it, and off we went for my first adventure off the grounds of the resort; my first foray into the real Dominican Republic. We got there and were given helmets and life jackets. Maybe that should have been my first clue that this wasn’t exactly a hike… Anyway, we started walking up a mountain through a forest, and we got to the first waterfall. And we got to JUMP DOWN IT. And it was AMAZING. We continued along, at various points walking, floating, swimming, or climbing, and jumping down some waterfalls, and sliding down others. Because we had started too late in the day we were only allowed to do fourteen of the twenty-seven waterfalls, which was truly unfortunate, because it was one of the coolest and/or most thrilling things I think I’ve ever had the chance to do. Seriously, so much fun.
The ceremony itself was beautiful, and so was Laura. While I was initially a little skeptical of the match, over the years as I’ve gotten to know Laura better, I’ve realized that it’s a good thing that she and Ben found each other. Who knows who else would have adhered to some of the weird views that those two share. I was grateful to be able to celebrate their big day with them, and am blessed to be a part of their lives. And as much as I had enjoyed my month of traveling, I was also grateful that when it was done, I got to go home.