Kindness and Redemption

This is the final post in my mini-series on the thread of redemption found in some of my favorite musicals. You can click here to read how it all started and here and here to read the other posts in this series. I’ve saved the best for last. Well maybe not but more than the other two the theme of redemption is easy to see in this musical.

les-miserablesI first saw Les Miserables on Broadway when I was in High School. Growing up in NYC, and being a lover of musicals, I saw my fair share of shows on Broadway. But watching Les Mis captured my heart and soul in ways I have never been able to fully articulate. It remains my all-time favorite stage musical. I have seen it more times than I can count and know the lines of every single song yet I STILL weep whenever I watch (I wept writing this post). The music is that powerful and the story that moving.

You Are NOT Just A Number

In the opening number Javert refers to Valjean simply by his prisoner number, 24601. Valjean responds by giving his full name but throughout the movie Javert sees him only as a number. He never sees the person behind the number. Valjean rightly states, a little later in the musical, that they gave him “a number and murdered Valjean”.

It’s easy to relegate someone to just a number. What size clothes does she wear? How much money does he make? We give someone a number and then judge them based on that number. But when we do, we miss out on everything about who someone truly is. The essence of a person is lost when they become nothing more than a number.

To the mom who can’t lose the weight she gained bringing life into this world, you are NOT the number on that scale. To the dad working too many long hours, missing the best parts of his children’s lives, you are MORE THAN the size of your bank account.

Society does a hell of a job trying to convince us to measure our worth by things external to us. My challenge is that you stand up to that notion and realize that your worth cannot be found in a smaller dress size, a bigger bank account or a larger house. You are of intrinsic worth and value and nothing can or should take that away from you. You are NOT just a number

One Simple Act of Kindness

A beat down, worn out Valjean is shown kindness by a priest, who invites him into his home, feeds him a hot meal and offers him a warm place to sleep. To repay his kindness, Valjean steals from the priest. When he is caught, however, the priest tells the police that he gave the silver to Valjean. He then tells Valjean he must “use this silver to become an honest man”. Something of the hardness in Valjean breaks at the kindness of this old man and he decides to change his life.

Years later, after assuming a new identity, Valjean learns that another man is set to go to prison after being mistaken for him. He remembers the priest, remembers that “his soul belongs to God” and he reveals the truth of who he really is, despite knowing it will send him back to prison.

The kindness of the priest rescued Valjean from the life of bitterness and misery he was heading down. His life was redeemed by this one simple act of kindness and the ripple effect of his life’s transformation is seen in many of the main characters. Fantine dying in a hospital instead of on the streets. Cosette growing up knowing she is loved and not unwanted. Marius not perishing with the rest of his friends. Valjean’s redeemed life, redeems the lives of so many others in the story.

Kindness and Redemption

Kindness begets kindness. Redemption begets redemption. We can never repay the supreme act of kindness shown to us by Christ on the cross. He does not ask us to repay Him. Instead, He asks that we love our neighbors as ourselves, give a cup of water to one who is thirsty and even share our bread with our enemy. His kindness to us should beget in us kindness to others, including kindness to ourselves. May we, like Valjean, be so humbled by Another’s act of kindness, our only response is to do the same for others.

From my heart to yours,


I hope you’ve enjoyed these posts on redemption. I’d love to hear where, in your life, have you found unexpected stories of redemption?

Holley-Gerth-Button-250x250Linking this post with Holley’s Coffee for Your Heart series.


Missing What Comes Next

I posted this on Facebook earlier this year and had actually forgotten all about it until tonight. I wasn’t blogging at the time but the words still ring true so I’m sharing it with you my blogging audience.  Hope you enjoy:

I had a text conversation with a friend this morning who mentioned that someone she knew walked out of the movie Les Mis at the scene where Fantine becomes a prostitute because “her faith doesn’t allow her to watch such things”. This lady walked out right before Fantine sings the song I Dream A Dream. As we were talking my friend said these words “…and then to miss what comes of it”.  Her words resonated in my heart and I thought I would share what jumped into my heart.

This situation makes me sad. Setting aside how much I LOVE both the movie & the stage production of Les Mis and not understanding how anyone could not love it too. What really makes me sad is this woman’s decision that her faith doesn’t allow her to watch brokenness unfold in someone’s life. Fantine’s story is a work of fiction but the fact is everyday people all around us are making choices and decisions that are birthed out of the brokenness in their lives. Whether the brokenness is because of things from their past or because the circumstances in their lives has led them down a road they could never have imagined, as Christ-followers we should not be turning from brokenness but instead turning towards it. Compassion and grace should be our response when we are face to face with someone wrestling with things we may not understand or even agree with. We are all made up of strength AND struggle. My area of struggle may look different than another person’s but we ALL have areas that need God’s grace, His mercy, His forgiveness and most of all His redemptive power to work on our behalf.

When we turn away from engaging with someone in their struggle, we miss what comes next. We miss getting to be a part of the incredible story of redemption that God WANTS to write in that person’s story. We miss getting to see how they overcome their brokenness and find healing and wholeness. We miss so much of what makes a beautiful story because we refuse to engage the messy parts of the story. In any really great story, whether movie or book, it’s the messyness, the ugly parts of the story that makes it so great. My hope and prayer today is that if we are ever given the privilege to step into someone’s broken, messy story we will courageously engage with them; that we will not turn away from what makes us uncomfortable but rather turn towards it and find the beauty that lies hidden behind the mess. Don’t miss what comes next.

Here’s Anne Hathaway doing an INCREDIBLE job singing I Dreamed A Dream. This scene moves me to tears every time. It really is the scene leading up to her singing this song that makes it so fabulous. If you’ve not seen this movie you really should. Come over, I have a copy. We can make tea and watch it together 🙂