by Emily Perkins
I have a plaque I found at a thrift store years ago. It reads, “That you and I could live our lives at the same time on earth, how incredible God’s plan.” Now, while I am inclined to buy old-timey plaques with any inscription, really, like “Love’s a snuggle,” or “the heart that gives, gathers,” and I love them all, but this one is special. The need to own it was visceral, like I knew it was made for me to have.
If you know anything about CliftonStrengths (formerly StrengthsFinder) a book and test designed to find out, as their website says, “how you are uniquely powerful,” it will make sense to you when I say that of my top five strengths, connectedness is my favorite. I don’t attribute this strength to my own power in any way though, of course I attribute it fully to God’s design, and to His kindness. Drawn to Acts 17:26-28 as long as I can remember, I rest completely inside of the truth that “[God] has made from one blood every nation of man to dwell on the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.
For in Him we live and move and have our being . . .” God knew who I would exist at the same time as. He knew who you would exist at the same time as. He not only knew, He chose it, in specific times and places, so that we would seek after Him, so that we could know He is near.
I come from a family that is not super familial. It’s hard to describe, but something like the expectation is you have one another’s backs, but you try not to get in each other’s way. You love each other deeply, but you disagree a ton and don’t hang out much. Suffice it to say, we didn’t have family dinners, in fact, when I speak of my family, what I am talking about really is the family that was formed after my parents got their divorce when I was five-years-old. Meaning, when I talk of my not super familial family, my mom lived in a different state than I did. How could I seek the Lord and know He was near while I was alone, you ask?
Oh, I didn’t have to, and from that time on, I never would have to be alone again.
That giftedness God knit into me of connectedness; it draws me near to His great, sweet, closeness, His tear-wiping love as experienced through my friends.
I know God is real and is love because He displays His truth of kind nearness through the humans He decided I would exist at the same time as; the humans He knit together knowing we would need, hold, and lift each other up towards Him. I trust fall into His arms again and again, knowing without a doubt, despite the suffering I have experienced, “that you and I exist[ing] at the same time on earth [is God’s incredible plan];” is God’s incredible kindness, and proves that He is near.
Erin is a writer currently penning her first book on young breast cancer, a stay-at-home mom of two young ones, a two-year survivor of Triple Negative Breast Cancer, and the President of the board of directors at The Young Breast Cancer Project. With a say-it-like-it-is attitude, Erin seeks to include every human, especially the vulnerable, into the fold of God’s closeness, with the hope of creating room for all kinds of humans to be human together (as Archbishop Desmond Tutu taught). You can find Erin at @erinleeperkins on Instagram and erinleeperkins.substack.com