I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you…
(lyrics from the song “For Good” from the Broadway musical, Wicked)
Our drive from Trenton, MI to Parma, OH took less time than we thought. After visiting the home of my childhood, Ted suggested a visit to see my old high school teacher before we had to be at the noon wedding. Back in my high school days, theater became my refuge. It was the group I fit in to and made friends in. I was a Thespian and theater was my thing. Throughout four years of high school, Mr. Mayer taught me to act. He gave me a love for theater and the arts. Mr. Mayer made me the dramatic person I am today.
We looked up Mr. Mayer’s address on Ted’s phone and then typed it into the GPS. His house was just five minutes away. “Do you want to go?” Ted asked. “Yes.” I replied. As Ted drove the short distance, my heart started thumping as I wondered if he would recognize me. Ted turned down the street and asked me if we were in the right place. There had been many social theater group get-togethers at Mr. Mayer’s house, and I immediately recognized his house where I pointed to Ted to pull in to the drive. Leaving everyone in the car in case he wasn’t even home, I boldly went to the front door and rang the doorbell. A few minutes later, the door opened. “Hi Mr. Mayer, it’s Laurel Rausch,” I announced. “Well, you look exactly the same as you did in high school!” he replied as he gazed at me. I only had a few minutes to visit, I explained, but that I just wanted to say hi. I also thanked him for teaching me to act and for helping to make me into who I was today. He told me that he and his wife had just been to a performance of “The King & I” where the singing was very good, but the acting was not good at all. He said that he had been thinking about me just that night and that, “They just didn’t have any character in the lines they were saying, compared to when you played Anna,” he said.
I called Ted to the front door and introduced him to Mr. Mayer. Then I had Ted take our picture together. I hugged Mr. Mayer and said good-bye. As we drove away the tears of nostalgia filled my eyes again.
Like most of us, my high school days were tumultuous and filled with all the emotions of teenage life. Mine took place within the theater circle. Talk about drama! I remember friendships smeared with jealousies, riddled with laughter, smoking with anger, smattered with fun, and the uncensored, unrestrained, spontaneous joy of the life of a teenager. Lots of it was good; parts of it I’d like to forget. But it all happened, and it all shaped me into who I am today. I can’t begrudge any of it.
That’s how life is – always changing us by the experiences we have and the people we meet.
And that’s how God changes us and molds us into who we become. He puts us in the presence of certain people who influence us, whether positively or negatively, but gives us the opportunity to learn from the encounter. Experiences we have will continue to form as us we get chiseled and smooshed into whom we are.
Isaiah 64:8 Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Here’s the link if you are not familiar with the song above from “Wicked”. You might want to hear the whole thing. If you are familiar with it, I know you’ll love hearing it again. Yeah – it made me cry … again … some more.
Thank you Mr. Mayer.