About a year and a half ago, I was on my internship in Fairfield, Ohio and was looking around at some of the stores in the local outlet center. I was specifically in a JCPenney’s in the jewelry section when I found a necklace that I instantly fell in love with. What I loved about this necklace was the message that was engraved on the band of the charm. It read,
“I am thankful that in God’s design, he planned it so that your path crossed mine.”
I didn’t immediately buy it, but eventually I did go back to buy, because I couldn’t stop thinking about the powerful line engraved on it. It’s now my favorite necklace and I wear it all the time. The more I thought about it, the more I agreed with the thought. God does allow our lives to be shaped that the people that crossed our path and befriend us over the span of our lifetime. Based on the decisions of both people in a friendship, you have the ability to shape the other person’s life for the better, if you take the time to invest in them. I am so grateful for the way that many of my friends have invested time in their friendships with me.
Brittany – “I Knew It Was You and I Cheered For You!”
Brittany was one of the first people I met in college that was a fellow music major. She was such an encouraging and supportive friend through all the ups and downs of getting used to the music dept. at OCC. Plus, she is responsible for helping me to see Wicked for the first time. She was a junior when I was a freshman, which meant that she started college at the same time as my older sister, so they were already friends. I can’t remember exactly when she told me, but she explained that when I was recognized as a scholarship recipient at the end of Highest Praise (the high choir tour from my alma mater. If you want to know more about Highest Praise, click here), she was there, and she cheered for me. She said, “I knew you were Jenn’s sister, and I was so excited for you!”
Dani - A Unique Birthday Surprise
Dani was one of my dearest friends at OCC, and also happens to be Brittany’s sister. We were freshman together, and she was a friend that helped bring me out of my shell at that time. She was always there when I needed to turn to her. She eventually became an RA our senior year. The day I remember meeting her, it was a few weeks into my first semester and I was wandering around my dorm hallway. I was about to go to my sister’s house to celebrate my 19th birthday, when Dani noticed me and asked if I wanted to watch a movie with them until it was time for me to leave. I sat down in Dani’s room with her roommate Tricia and a few other friends. I think they were watching the end of The Notebook, or something like that (Anyone that remembers is free to correct me if I’m wrong). After a little bit of watching and chatting, it was time for me to leave.
This was not necessarily the strange part, other than that fact that I didn't really know Dani at the time. What was strange is that when I returned that night, I found that my bookshelves had been TPed and a Jonas Brothers poster had been left on my bed (back in my JB-obsessed days *cough, cough*). The TP had been colored on with markers and said messages like “Happy Birthday!” “You Have a Beautiful Smile”, and my personal favorite, “The One Birthday to Rule Them All!” Dani and Tricia made a habit of doing special things for your first college birthday in the dorm. I remember Dani saying, “I think your first birthday away from home should be something special.” When Dani became RA, she also started a tradition of TPing every girls’ doorway on her birthday.
It just made me smile to this about this special gift, because I hardly knew them at the time, but they eventually became close friends. It was this simple funny act of kindness that started our friendship. It was because of Dani that I met many of my other closest friends from OCC, like my longest roommate Teresa. Because of this and so many other things, I am so grateful for Dani.
Toby – In the Pool On Choir Tour
My second concert choir tour (March 2012), I was swimming in the pool with a few other choir members when Toby started taking to me. I had seen Toby before, since we only had 25 people in our choir, but we had never really talked. I remember he was taking voice lessons that semester for the first time and was asking advice. Whatever the case, we eventually got into the hot tub and continued to chat. After a little while, we realized that everyone else had left and we figured we probably need to get ready to go to the see the play In the Heights that night in downtown Dallas. However, it became this huge joke between us that we met in a hot tub alone. But just to clarify, nothing happened! I am so grateful for Toby and the good friend he was to me in college.
Miri – “I’m Your New Roommate. I Think You Know My Boyfriend”
My last spring semester on campus (2013), I had a roommate that left school during Christmas break, and I was told I needed to take a new roommate who would probably be a transfer student. Needless to say, I was very nervous about taking a roommate I didn’t know, but our SDO told me that she seemed like a good match to my profile. When she called me before she moved in, we chatted for a few minutes, but then she told me, “I think you already know my boyfriend, Toby.” The fact that I already had a connection to her put me at ease about having a new roommate, and as it turns out, Miri and I got pretty close in that semester we were roommates. But I just recently realize how funny it is the way were connected. She and Toby actually got married that summer. I am still so grateful for Miri.
Terry – “Do You Like Lord of the Rings?”
Terry actually became one of my college professors, but I met him long before I started college. We actually met when I was in Highest Praise and only a freshman in high school. My first year in HP, we were on the way to a concert when our busses (we had 2 that year) got stuck at a weight station because of some lost paperwork. We were waiting at least an hour. I remember getting kind of bored and wandering towards the front of the bus where our adult sponsors would sit. Terry offered to let me sit next to him and we just started chatting. Somewhere in that conversation, we discovered that we both loved Lord of the Rings. We talked about other things too, but that was what sparked the conversation. And that was only the beginning of many conversations to come about our love of Tolkien and Middle-earth in the years to come.
Taylor – “I Didn’t Know Your Last Name!”
High School Friends – “Would You Like To Share A Snack?”
I think back to remember that there four people in the class that day that stayed at KTA until we graduated, and the first memory I had of them was the simple act of kindness of offering me part of their snack. I don’t remember if Laura, Laura (yes, there were two), Ari, and Ray all offered me something, but it’s funny to think that was the moment that started it all. We all got pretty close in our high school years, along with the others that joined our class, and I am still blessed to remember all the good times we had at KTA. I am so thankful for all of them.
Daniel – “Can I Color With You?”
Daniel was another friend I made on my second concert choir tour in college. Prior to tour, I knew of Daniel, but we hadn’t had a conversation that I could recall. Our first full day on the road, we were traveling to Shreveport, LA. We had just gotten back on the bus after eating lunch. Apparently Daniel had noticed that I brought my Jumbo Disney Princess Coloring Book on the bus with me the day before and it gave him an idea. It was one of the strangest ways a person I hardly knew started up a conversation with me.
“Hey Bethel, do you have that coloring book?”
“Do you have crayons?”
“Can I come color with you?”
He came to my seat, picked out a coloring page, and we got to know each other while coloring princess pictures for about 2 hours! As it turned out, Daniel loves to color with crayons and is quite gifted with using them. (His coloring skills put mine to shame! lol) He knew that we had a common interest and used that as an opportunity to introduce himself.
Angela & Kendra – Disney Princesses
Kendra was a friend from my music ministry internship. She is the daughter of one of the staff members at the church. I met Kendra at the end of the first day in the office on my internship, but even before I met her, a few people were saying, “You should meet Kendra. She a lot like you. She loves Disney Princesses too.”
And as it turns out, when I met her after a meeting, she had a Rapunzel phone case, had Mickey Mouse nails, and was talking about her trip to Disney World! I also found out that we both have adult sized Rapunzel costumes. It was rather humorous! Needless to say, we got along well from the moment we started talking.
Angela is a friend I meet less than a year ago through some other friend connections. We technically met on Christmas Eve, but we didn’t have much of a chance to talk until my family had a small Christmas party at our house the day after Christmas. Angela came with a family friend and we got to talking. I don’t even remember exactly how the conversation turned into Disney, but when I told her I had a Beauty and the Beast collection, she got so excited! I showed her my collection on display in my room and the next thing we knew, we had tentatively made plans to have a Disney movie marathon! Since then, we have had several! (Plus, it's funny to observe that we are wearing identical leather jackets in this picture! And it was totally on accident! haha)
Brandon – “Can You Help Me With My Makeup?”
One of the strangest ways I have ever befriended a guy was while doing his makeup. Brandon was a guy that I only really knew because he had the lead part in our Christmas program that year (2011). Since I was in charge of makeup, I was asked to help him. Brandon, being his usual friendly self, decided to strike up conversation with me. I remember thinking it was a little weird since I was literally all up in his face, but in hindsight, he was really being sweet and his usual self. I don't remember most of our conversations, but I think he was really just trying to get to know me.
Part of the reason this story is special to me is because Brandon passed away a little over a year later. I didn't have the chance to get super close to him, but the short time we were friends made a big impact on my life that I did not realize until after his death. Even though he is gone, I am still so grateful to have called him my friend. To read more about Brandon’s story, click here.