“Bidden or not bidden, God is present.” I read this for the first time when my kids were still very small, and I found it not only extremely comforting, but it immediately rang true. I am not even religious, but I certainly believe in a power greater than myself. Sometimes things happen that are just too coincidental or meaningful for me to consider them completely random. God may represent something different to each of us, and if you are more comfortable with “ordered universe,” that works here too.
I can point to a handful of things--books, people, events, even certain moments--that were essential in getting me through my divorce and pushing me through to the other side. That damn quicksand in the middle can be mighty strong! One of the most invaluable was Gigi. I met Gigi years ago when a mutual friend invited me to join a poker group. Immediately, I knew liked her and felt a connection. We had some meaningful conversations over those first few years, and though we kept in touch here and there through our friend, we had no real opportunity to socialize otherwise.
I moved out of town for a few years and when I finally decided to separate from my husband, we moved back. A few months later I got a Facebook message from Gigi that she wanted to meet for coffee. I hadn’t seen her in years, and I’m not sure she had ever been the first to reach out to me in the past. The first couple of time suggestions didn’t work, but she kept trying until we found one that did. Her persistence was notable, and I figured she must have heard I had separated and wanted some scoop. Not abnormal, as divorce is still unusual and attention grabbing in our bubble.
We met at Starbucks, and after a brief greeting she asked what was going on. Well, I just assumed that she was asking about the separation, so that’s where I started, launching into a detailed account of how we got where we were, the details of the marriage and its demise, our current set up and how we were planning to move forward. About 15 minutes into what seemed like a soliloquy by this point, I started to get sick of the sound of my own voice, so I stopped. “Enough about me, what about you?”
“Well, I don’t really have to say anything now. You just told my story.” Really? Gigi and her sweet husband and perfect kids were going through the same? Not only were they going through the same, having separated only a couple of months after I did, her story was close to identical--the marriage, the issues, there were so many similarities it was eerie. Mind you, my divorce (and marriage, for that matter) was far from typical. And the freakiest thing to me was that she had heard I was back, but had no idea at all that I was separated or what I was going through, she just knew she had to see me.
Gigi and I saw each other for coffees as often as we could over the next year or so. She was the only one who could truly understand all sides. Who else got the level of anger I felt, the regrets, the fears, the friends who just didn’t get it, the ex who begins to put a new girlfriend before his kids? She also understood how hard it was to make the choices we did, the freedom that we now felt, even the need to date again. We could ugly cry together and then somehow end up laughing through the tears. She got it all, as I did for her. Though I did have many people supporting me as much as they could, Gigi was the only one who really knew what I was going through. Simply knowing she was out there saved me from spiraling many times.
So, bidden or not bidden, God is present. When I was a teenager, I found a similar message in that Footprints poem (if you don’t know, google it), and it kept me sane through some of the worst times. As I’ve grown, I realized that Erasmus (or Carl Jung, depending on your source) said it best and most succinctly. However, to me, the overall meaning of both is the same. That greater power is there, whether or not we consciously realize. Upon reflection, if we look carefully, we can often see God’s mark. In this particular case it was Gigi. Girl, you were exactly what I needed at exactly the moment I needed it. You saved me. I will never not believe that there was something bigger than my own limited view at play during that time.