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.

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime.
So, let me say before we part,
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you.
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart.
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have rewritten mine
By being my friend.
— Wicked, “For Good”

This song came to mind after my last dating relationship, in which I learned some abiding lessons.

This experience caused me to reflect on others who have come into my life, whether for a specific reason or for a long-lasting purpose.

Now, I haven’t written a book, but if I ever do (which I think I will), my “Acknowledgements” section would go something like this:

Mom: for giving me life and showing me how to live it well.

Dad: for your mantra, “If you’re doing the right thing, the right thing will happen,” and for teaching me that not everyone will like you.

Sister: for redefining GPS (God Positioning System) and teaching me to pick a direction. Even if it’s the wrong direction, life has a way of recalculating you (and for taking me to see Wicked).

Aunt Beth and Uncle Moi: for feeding me, being my dessert guinea pigs, and for listening to my endless musings.

Aunt Susy: for our Starbucks dates, and for showing me it’s ok to have a bleeding heart, as long as you don’t let it drain you.

Uncle Frank: for reminding me of how good you can look in your late 60s if you don’t eat sugar.

Aunt Cindy and Uncle Brian: for proving that you’re never too old to travel internationally or learn foreign languages.

Cousins: for camping memories.

Mike and Jen: for everything. Your hospitality, love, and enduring friendship. Thank you for entering the arena with me.

Speir and Bethany: for being the biggest advocates of my teaching (despite my disbelief in my abilities) and for showing me how to pursue truth.

Fellow adjuncts: for your extreme patience in answering my incessant texts and for sharing the teaching struggle. I appreciate your genius, talent, and insight.

Random GB3 man: for showing me how cool it can be when your job and passion coincide.

The Stotts: for being my adoptive family.

Fellow seminarians (you know who you are): for teaching me how to think, ask the right questions, navigate the grey with faith, and for showing me how great God is.

Grandma and Grandpa: for your hugs, kisses, endless Fudgsicle supply, and helping raise us.

Rayan: for showing me what genuine compassion and empathy are.

Kelly Cahill: for your spunk, tenacity, wisdom, and for reminding me how great love can be, at any age, when you’re with the right person.

The Guidrys: for showing me what hospitality is.

My college roommates, friends, IVers: for reminding me not to take myself to seriously (though I always did) and for walking through this transformative time in life with me.

Mark Baker: for seeing something in me I never saw in myself, and for patiently fostering this despite my resistance. I’m still struggling to see this something, but it’s becoming clearer.

Brian Horton: for pushing me to the brink, knowing I wouldn’t fall off (despite my doubt).

Magnadoodle: for our dream feed bonding time, and for reminding me that we’re inherently worthy and valuable simply because we exist.

Mrs. Bennett: for your comments on The House of the Spirits essay, and for recognizing my writing talent before it was on my radar.

Amirah: for understanding my crazy (and empathizing with it), and for keeping our weekly phone dates even though this level of scheduling is completely contrary to your personality.

Mario Giuliani: for giving me a much-needed hug 15 years ago and letting me know it was going to be alright. You’re right. It was.

Opa: for teaching me patience, giving me insight into how I want to be treated when I'm old, and for reminding me that history matters.

FPD (not Fresno Police Department): for showing me that I can, and want to, love someone again.

My students: for revealing where I shine and struggle as a teacher.

EPU Children’s Center: for taking a chance on me and seeing potential in my fresh-out-of-college-very-green-I’m-not-sure-she-has-any-clue-what-she’s-doing-state.

To all the men I’ve dated: for helping me identify my emotional and relational blind spots; unlocking facets of my personality I didn’t know existed; thinking my craziness is actually endearing; teaching me that some people reject Harvard (reference Betches); and for showing me that we’re all doing the best we can.

You have all rewritten my story for the better. And for the good.

Lyrics taken from: