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How to Learn From Friendship Lessons and Chance Encounters

Updated on August 30, 2017
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As a nationally certified and licensed professional counselor, Janis helps her clients resolve relationship conflicts and trust issues.

Friendships Might Last Forever or Just For a Season

Chance friendships become special moments in time to cherish.
Chance friendships become special moments in time to cherish. | Source

Chance Encounters: Why Do They Happen?

"What do you believe about the occurrence of chance encounters?"

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Unexpected Friendships Give Our Lives New Meaning

As we move through our lives on the paths set for us, we meet countless souls along the way. Many of the people we meet enter our lives due to advanced planning, while some we meet come into our lives purely by chance. Whether lovers, dear friends, or mysterious strangers, it appears that most of our chance meetings were destined and placed in our lives for a reason.

Once the encounter comes to its completion, we might gain a better understanding of the encounter by re-framing it. To re-frame means we look at the bigger picture and assign a larger purpose to the encounter from which we can learn and grow. Our challenge is to figure out what that purpose might be as we cherish the experiences gained.

These life encounters enter and exit at anytime, and are either brief or extended in duration. It's usually when the encounter comes to an end, sometimes suddenly, that we are left to answer the question, "What was the meaning behind that person being in my life?" This question, after some pondering, brings us to accept that chance encounters were indeed meant to be, if only for a season.

Sometimes this question is accompanied by feelings of grief and loss. But by attempting to pull forth meaning from the experience, the loss, over time, is eased as we embrace wisdom. This wisdom may result from lessons learned from involvement in an intense, short-lived relationship, a six-month stint with a psychotherapist, a secret friendship, or a five-hour conversation during a shared train ride. In the end, we will eventually conclude that the encounter made an indelible mark on each of our lives.

We Never Know Who We'll Meet by Chance

We can't predict how we may become interconnected with the people we meet by design or by chance or how they'll impact our lives.
We can't predict how we may become interconnected with the people we meet by design or by chance or how they'll impact our lives. | Source

"Sometimes the slightest things change the directions of our lives, the merest breath of a circumstance, a random moment that connects like a meteorite striking the earth. Lives have swiveled and changed direction on the strength of a chance remark."

— Bryce Courtenay

Chance Meetings Have a Poetic Purpose

The poem "Just for a Season" presents the notion of deriving meaningful lessons from chance meetings, as we pass through each other's lives. Some refer to these chance meetings as fate, destiny, or divine intervention. Others say they are random occurrences or the power of free will or choice. And still others insist that encounters are ushered in by angels watching over us.

Regardless of one's beliefs of philosophic explanations, most will agree that there is something to be learned and cherished about each and every chance encounter we experience. It is up to the individual to discern the meaning and purpose of each encounter.

"Just for a Season"

You came into my life in need

Seeking rhyme and reason

A meeting not meant to last for long

Just for a brief season.

Time is all so relative

One hour or one year

It goes by in a flash of light

With so much more to share.

How long have I known you now?

Forever it would seem

I've seen you through your ups and downs

We did it like a team.

I witnessed your integrity

Your values and your strengths

Observed your vulnerability

As we talked at length.

But more than the sharing of your pain

Or the attentiveness of my ear

There was more to our brief season

Than the shedding and wiping of tears.

It's the fate of the encounter

That it was meant to be

Placed into each other's lives

To learn what neither could see.

I thank you for teaching me kindness

And unconditional love

Acceptance and compassion

All heaven sent from above.

Those unexpected lessons

For which we are so blessed

With deeper understanding

Of all that we addressed.

For now I let you go in peace

God bless you in your endeavor

Although each time we say good-bye

We are sealed forever.

You never know who might be

Entwined in your story's chapter

So cherish each meeting and brief season

Today . . . and ever after.

[All Rights Reserved: JLE 2007]

Special Friendships May End Up Lasting Forever

Couples often choose to meet again, capitalizing on the opportunity presented by the chance encounter.
Couples often choose to meet again, capitalizing on the opportunity presented by the chance encounter. | Source

"It is by chance that we met, by choice that we became friends."

— Henri Nouwen

How We Can Learn From Chance Encounters

As you try to figure out the meaning and purpose of your chance encounters, recent or long ago, take into account the following questions to explore. Use these questions to discern why that person was entered your life at a particular time and place. The answers may help you to grieve, grow, let go, and move forward. Whether the experience gained from the encounter was good or bad, something valuable can be gleaned for clarity and understanding.

Ask yourself:

  1. "What did I learn about myself as a result of this chance meeting?"
  2. "What larger purpose did this person serve in my life?"
  3. "What was God possibly trying to tell me about this encounter?"
  4. "What message did I receive about this encounter?"
  5. "How did this chance encounter change me as a person?"
  6. "What have I lost as a result of this encounter?"
  7. "What have I gained as a result of this encounter?"
  8. "How might this person grow as a result of having a chance encounter with me?"
  9. "How has this chance encounter blessed me?"
  10. "What paths did I end up choosing as a result of the chance encounter?"

You can apply what you've learned to future relationships and situations. This self-assessment can reveal very valuable information about you and how you relate to others. It involves the hard work of self-examination which ultimately leads to healing and growth from the experiences we encounter in life, either by fate, destiny, or by chance.

© 2015 Janis Leslie Evans


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    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 24 months ago from Washington, DC

      Will do, thanks for stopping by to read mine.

    • shprd74 profile image

      Hari Prasad S 24 months ago from Bangalore

      very comprehensive hub on chance encounters and friendship. I have written a poem with the way these encounters have to be dealt with. pl check this poem 'friend who left'.

      - hari

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Hey there, ahorseback, glad you liked it. Bless you, too. Thanks for your visit.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 2 years ago

      Jan , this is pretty awesome , I've actually been thinking a lot about this very subject lately , being a good listener is a nice thing to be but at times I think it's kinda one sided ! Bless ya for this insight .

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Hi Audrey - I appreciate your generous comments, so pleased you liked this hub and the poem. Thank you so much for the blessings and for sharing. Just did bio yesterday. They do add a neat touch.

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      Audrey Selig 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Jan - I like your hub with an article and poem and nice pic at beginning. Some relationships are brief and some last for a lifetime. Your article explained it all, and the poem really made the hub better. Your bio is right on target. Thanks for sharing your ideas. Sharing. Blessings, Audrey

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      This is beautiful, Frida Rose. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I'm so happy that this article and the poem resonated with you. I hope others receive as much as you did from their encounters and from this article.

    • Frida Rose profile image

      Frida Rose 2 years ago from Maryland

      I met someone on vacation a week ago and our connection became very deep almost instantly. On the plane ride back home, I was sad knowing it wouldn't last because we live on opposite sides of the country. Then, I had a moment where I understood exactly why things happened the way they did and the lesson that person was meant to teach me.

      This hub totally reassured me of what I had already told myself, although I still felt a little crazy about it. I also really loved the poem!

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Hi MsDora, thanks for your comments, glad you enjoyed it. Love your outlook on lasting benefits!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Lovely poem. The lessons learned last forever, so the friendship has everlasting benefits. How many more friendship we would consider precious if we thought of them that way. Encouraging thoughts!

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Love, love, love your wisdom, Bill. You always get it. Appreciate you much. Thanks for visiting.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Beautiful thoughts...beautiful advice. I consider every person that I meet my teacher. As long as I'm willing to learn then my life is a classroom.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Hi Jodah. Thanks for visiting and voting up. I'm pleased you liked this one. I agree that it can't be random especially with what usually follows and impacts our lives: lessons and blessings.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This is a wonderful hub Jan. I do believe in chance encounters and believe they do happen for a reason, whether it put down to God or fate I'm not sure but they can certainly change your life and to me are not just a random occurrence. Voted up.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      NateB11, thank you for sharing your experience. Your comment goes perfectly with this hub, as if it was written for you. I wish I would have interviewed you for it! I'm grateful for your visit.

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 2 years ago from California, United States of America

      I've definitely had this experience of a chance encounter; a deep and surprising relationship that lasted a couple years but did have to end, to me, rather abruptly. For certain reasons, I never resumed contact with this person though they hinted at me that they wanted to see me again. Like I said, for certain reasons, I couldn't see them again, though I wanted to. I've often pondered the relationship, its meaning and why it even happened in the first place; it was the last thing on Earth I ever expected, to have a relationship with this person, something that has never happened to me before or since then. It was truly strange and wonderful to me, exhilarating and, in the end, confusing and heart-rending. Glad you brought this up, great subject.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Hi there, savvydating! Thank you so much for liking it. I'm always grateful for your insights. Thanks for commenting. Need is good. :)

    • savvydating profile image

      Yves 2 years ago

      Wonderful hub. Selfishly, I was happy that you included the word "need." I believe wholeheartedly that need is useful. Also, in long term relationships, I feel that need is nothing to be ashamed of. But, in speaking of chance encounters---I couldn't agree with you more. Lovely, inspiring article.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you very much. I'm so glad you liked it.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you, word, for taking the time to read this article, "hot off the presses." I appreciate you sharing your views on what will make a relationship last. Of course, people will have their opinions. Thanks for stopping by.

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      KhachkarPress 2 years ago

      Wonderful article, indeed I value all "chance" encounters that come my way.

    • word55 profile image

      Word 2 years ago from Chicago

      Hi Jan, I can relate to such a seasonal friendship/relationship. While the going is good, we say God brought us together and we also think it is forever, but one of us starts to change direction over time and here comes the separation/break up. We must then ask, Is this what God wanted or designed? We look back further and say, we made our own choices that God had nothing to with especially, when sleeping together without considering marriage, not praying and going to church together, putting God 1st in all WE do. Did we have God in between us from the gitgo? Otherwise, the friendship/relationship is only bound for a season that can end after months, a year, 5 years or even 10 years or more before being cut short. I'm only speaking for those who may agree with me. Lastly, and at this point, I won't call this a friendship but a relationship that I will not go into without God /Jesus being at the head of it. Also, I must have the intention of marrying the partner that I choose to be in it with. This type of relationship is beyond friendship. Friendship is platonic. Many people get this misconstrued. Of course, we are going to learn from a seasonal relationship, no matter when it ends. Thank you so much Jan for sharing this. Be Blessed...