Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Dreamed a Dream...

I recently saw Les Miserables with my husband.  It is a wonderful, heart wrenching story of sacrifice and grace. Of forgiveness and second chances.  Of those who think second chances should not be given.  Today, I am listening to the soundtrack and can’t seem to shake the story of one of the characters, Fantine.  She has become a prostitute in her desperation to provide for her daughter, Cosette.  Her song is entitled, “I Dreamed a Dream”.   She tells of better days, of the dreams she had, when she was young.  She tells of the man who came into her life and promised her the world, only to leave her when he was done with her. She carried his baby and now she carries the shame. Shame for falling in love, for making a mistake. She is tainted. Her life defined by a single act.  The world will make sure she never forgets what she has done.  They will make her pay; little mercy shown to a whore.  But not Jean Valjean.  No, He is a man who knows of failure, of mercy, of forgiveness and of second chances.  He shows kindness to Fantine.  He picks up her fevered, diseased ridden body and cares for her until she slips away in death. 

The irony of this young woman’s life.  She was accused and thought of as being a whore long before she ever was one.  Her only crime was falling in love and giving herself to a man she thought loved her. It was only later, after she was made an outcast that she became the very thing she never intended to be….never wanted to be. What choice did she have?  Her sin had been exposed; little grace is to be shown to an unwed mother.  Any reputation she had was shattered.  No one would hire her. And so she succumbed.  To survive.  To provide for her daughter. 

To the men who came to see her, she was only a body to be used and discarded.  To the world around her, she was only seen as something vile and wretched.  Her humanity gone.  It is so easy to dehumanize people.  To reduce them to nothing more than a societal problem.  An inconvenience.  Something to be disposed of.  I wish I could say that I am not guilty of doing this to people.  I am not.  For a variety of reasons, some of which I am not even aware of, I can do this to others.  Sometimes it is just easier, less emotional, to write people off.  To come up with a reason why they are what they are or do the things they do.  But this is not the person I want to be.  Not in the least.  I want to be someone who sees past the exterior.  I want to see the person.  I want to remember that there is a story behind ugly, behind the unlovely.  I want to be kind and compassionate.  I want to be merciful and forgiving.  I want to give second chances. 

I am so thankful for the people God has put in my life that have loved me when I wasn’t my most lovely.  When my body was fevered and sick. I am glad they were able to look deeper, past the ugly and to the me inside.  I am thankful for the Jean Valjeans in my life and I hope I can be that for others.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

This New Year...

I was at the bank recently and the teller asked me of 2013 was going to be a good year?  I answered with an affirming YES but as I thought about it, I realized I have no idea what this year is going to bring.  I was struck by the realization of how little control I actually have over what is to come.  Will I have to bury a loved one? Will my husband lose his job?  Will I get a phone call telling me that the test results we not good? No, I really have no idea what this year will bring and that can be kind of scary.

The future and the fear of what it might hold is something I struggle with.  I have a feeling I am not alone in this.  It is hard not knowing…not being able to control the outcome.  I worry about my kids and the choices they will make.  I worry about my health; will cancer take me like it did my mom?  I worry about Eric dying and how I would survive that.  It is easy to worry once you get going.

There is a part of me that believes that by worrying I will somehow prepare myself for the things I fear. That I have some control.   That I will be able to get through it easier.  That it won’t hurt as much.  Which is the furthest thing from the truth.  In reality, worry accomplishes nothing good in my life.  When I worry about the future it only serves to cripple me in the present.  It robs me of experiencing and participating in the goodness and love that is happening all around me in this very moment.

I want to learn how to live in the present.  I think that is where God wants me to be.  He doesn’t want me live in the past or in the future.  He wants me to live in the here and now.  He wants me to trust Him with the future and not worry about what may come.  He wants me to enjoy the life he has given me.  He wants me to love and experience being loved.  He wants heal my hurts and make me whole.  He wants me to laugh and sing and dance. 

I don’t know what this year will bring.  I am sure there will be difficult, hard things I will face but there will also be good things as well.  So, I am going to try to worry less about the things I fear might happen and focus more on what is actually happening.  I am going to try to live in the present and leave the future to God.  I am going to try to live… really live.