Everyone knows Randy.
Those who he has had contact with will never forget him. He is an inviter at his core, welcoming strangers into his life with excitement and ease. There is a fearlessness to him. Where some would hesitate to engage someone marginal or worry about social implications, Randy crosses those lines without hesitation. Living in DC now, I imagine that the places he frequents most– restaurants, grocery stores, church, etc– people know him by name. What’s even more incredible to me is that I am confident that he knows theirs as well.
I met Randy halfway through my sophomore year. Within a span of 20 minutes, I had been invited on a road trip that day to Charlottesville to pick his brother up at the airport. Within an hour, the trip had grown to over ten people, searching to have food and fun outside our normal JMU weekend. Where others hesitate in new friendships, Randy tears down walls and endears people to him rapidly.
Upon returning to his dorm room, I knew I had met someone special when he shared with me some of his deepest scars he had collected in his life. There is a transparency to Randy that is engaging and genuine. He invites the world around him to know him. Within less than 12 hours, I knew I had made a friend that would last.
Randy is a man of two extremes, which I credit to the incredible depth of both his mind and his heart. At one moment you could be dancing to house techno with him, then in an instance be in a conversation about the beauty of the Gospel. With him you would find the most exciting time on the weekend, but often you found him in Zane-Shoker (JMU business building) studying for hours on end. However, he would not hesitate to drop his studies to listen to a friend in need and give advice.
I think of Randy when I hear Mark 10:15:
Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.
There is a sense if wonder and amazement in how Randy deals with the things of God. To hear him speak about the Gospel fills me with an excitement that is often lacking. He lives out the grace of mercy and Christ in an inspiring way.
We were roommates our Sophomore year, which strained our relationship in ways that I am ashamed of to this day. If I’m honest, it was a lack of maturity in all of my friendships at the time, but had an exponential effect because we lived together. I was resentful of the magnetic quality that Randy has with people rather than rejoicing in it.
But I learned much in that year from Randy. I saw what true contrition looked like, as he was always quick to confess and ask forgiveness when he felt he had wronged someone. He was generous, never hesitating to let me borrow his car even though I was a bitter, curmudgeon to him 90 percent of the time. He showed me how to live gracefully with those who are anything-but by living gracefully with me. I can only thank God that years later we could reconcile our relationship.
My fondest memory of Randy, however, is one that he may not remember. It was years after graduation, when he had moved to DC and I was in northern virginia in my “what am I going to do with my life” phase.” He had invited me into the city to hang out, and we were driving around looking for a parking spot, when John Wayne Gacy by Sufjan Stevens came on the radio.
At the time, i would have called Sufjan one of my favorite artists, but had never taken the time to listen and think about the song as Randy did.
The lyrics of the last verse:
And in my best behavior
I am really just like him
Look beneath the floorboards
For the secrets I have hid
He related to this song in a way that I had never even thought of, hearing the truth of his own depravity where I had only heard a pretty melody and possible cryptic message. I drove out of that city that night dwelling in my own depravity, thanking God for the grace he bestowed on me through his son, Jesus Christ.
Randy continues to invite people into his life that most of us would pass by on the street. His heart is demonstrated by his job at (World Vision and the passion with which he speaks. He is finishing up a masters degree and I can only wait with baited breath to see how God uses him in the future.
His wedding to Sarah this past weekend was a beautiful representation of the man he is, both sacred and unabashedly fun. The room was filled with an eclectic mix of the people he has met along the way but our worlds blended perfectly as we ate, drank and celebrated the covenant he made to his bride. Though I barely know Sarah, I could see that she is the counterpart he had been waiting for by seeing them dance on the dance floor with their family and friends.
I am blessed to call Randy my brother and friend.