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Not Just Happenstance

for "Choices" publication

When these moments happen, they give you pause. Sometimes you feel chills up and down your spine at the stunning nature of them. Or they make you shake your head because they're that uncanny and so incredibly personalized to your situation. Synchronization, or occurrences that laugh in the face of happenstance, are some of life's most unexpected blessings. While we can't predict their placement or exact timing, these moments that speak loudly to us, serve purpose and give us direction when we allow for their presence in our lives.

Opening Your Heart

Case in point: when struggling with a painful bout of anxiety more than five years ago, a woman that I didn't know well called me out of the blue, saying that I was on her heart. While I was touched at her kindness, it was a seemingly random one-liner from a song she repeated: "He only loves us because of who He is," that almost made me drop the phone.

You see, this woman had no way of knowing that this line was from a Newsboys song that I listened to "on repeat" from my college years. She could have selected any number of Psalms or a line from a trending song on the radio, but she spoke that one because she was a vessel speaking hope and encouragement to me.

Such occurrences don't only befall us when we're facing disparaging seasons; they can come when we're seeking direction with careers, when we're realizing who we're meant to be with and those we're not, when we're supposed to reach out to someone in need, and so on. Though these "stop and listen" moments in life look different from each other, the beauty in them is the nudge coming from an external source. While such signs can brush up against the most obstinate among us, it helps to have an open heart. It can only serve us well when we pause and admit: I'm experiencing evidence that no matter the circumstances, my life has meaning and purpose. It's bigger than I am.

Intentional Awareness

With demanding schedules ever before us, it is only natural to stop noticing the nuances in life. We might have driven the same road every day for the past month without realizing that one neighbor has dahlias for sale for $5 and that another one just repainted their mailbox red. But it's in this intentional slowing down and taking inventory of our surroundings when we open ourselves up to moments that are most meaningful to ourselves and those around us.

"Synchronistic events disclose deep interconnections between mind and body, between one person and another, between humans and the natural world; even, it seems to some, between humans and a reality transcending the ordinary empirical world," says scholar Roderick Main on his passion for psychologist Carl Jung's views on synchronicity.

It only makes sense that when we show up for life (put down our cell phones, take note of the barista's name, ask someone a question about their day, etc), we are inviting more occasions for God to work in and through us. While some moments of synchronicity are going to move us a lot more than others, one benefit in noticing them more frequently is that we start to see our lives as a gift.

Write it Down

"Independent circumstances are sometimes aligned beautifully. But to anyone who believes in a Divine Supreme Being that sincerely cares for the welfare of His creations, such occurrences are more than mere coincidences," Dr. Bernard D. Beitman says in an article for Psychology Today.

You've probably heard it said that one of the best recipes for dealing with current hardships is to reflect on God's past faithfulness to you. While this is certainly true for me, one thing that I wished I'd done more was written recording of the specific instances where I experienced synchronicity. Even the most awe-inspiring, "how did you know that about me?" moment will nullify with time and trials unless we revisit and refuse to take them for granted.

It's worth writing down: that moment someone recognized a sadness you thought you could hide and asked if they could pray for you. Worth writing down: the time you listened to that God-given nudge and approached the woman standing on the street corner and asked how you could help. Worth writing down: every moment that has you wide-eyed in wonder, knowing that this can't just be happenstance.

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