Les Miserables is my all-time favorite musical, so it was with some trepidation that I went to see the latest movie version. None of the past versions have ever captured the passion inherent to Victor Hugo’s story the way the musical retelling does, so I wasn’t expecting much of this one. Seeing as this post is not intended to be a movie review, though, I won’t tell you what I actually thought, except for one little bit: Anne Hathaway nailed it as Fantine. She made me cry, like, tears-running-freely-down-my-face cry. Twice, in fact. If I did hashtags, I’d say #notafluke. Ms Hathaway eschewed the typical portrayal of Fantine, which tends to be wistful, kind of wimpy, like that horrible “Foolish Games” song in the late 90s. Her Fantine was real. Ragged, broken, ugly, utterly without hope.
I wasn’t the only one crying. All around me, I could hear people sniffling, guys and girls alike. I especially noticed all the men who, truthfully, probably got dragged to this movie by their significant females and then found themselves reacting on a gut level to the raw emotion on-screen. Probably a bit uncomfortable for most of them, I’d say. Several actually walked out for a few minutes.
I think we all reacted because everyone has a bit of Fantine in him or her. She couldn’t possibly have known that kind of despair, had she not once been sure that life was hers for the conquering. And maybe we haven’t found ourselves selling our bodies to make ends meet, but we’ve all had beautiful dreams and ideas of how things were going to work out. Except that years later, they didn’t. So we fell into depression, becoming shells of ourselves. Or we got bitter, alienating those around us and resenting the ones who did realize their dreams. Some of us turned to various substances to help us forget; some of us just chose to forget and went on surviving. We decided not to hope because it was too costly, too disappointing. We pledged not to feel so we could never get hurt. We laid those dreams down, comforting ourselves by chalking it up to “putting away childish things.” Coping mechanisms, all. And Fantine cracked the shell just a little. For a moment, we felt all the hurt, the disappointment, the pain that is the hallmark of unfulfilled dreams.
I’m willing to bet that many of you reading this can’t even remember what you used to dream of doing or being — you’ve been on autopilot for too long. I was there – and not even that long ago. But awhile back, God began to speak to me about dreaming again. He wanted me to revisit the things I’d dreamt of long ago. I tried and tried, and I finally had to tell Him that I couldn’t remember any of them. So God, who can be pretty insistent, began to help me. Suddenly, I was recalling all kinds of things – little, tiny ones and big, audacious, gonna-take-a-miracle ones. There was genuine laughter and pleasure in His voice as he said, “The last lyric of the song does NOT have to be ‘Now life has killed the dream I dreamed’ because I AM the Resurrector. Give Me your dreams – because I first gave them to you – and watch what happens! This is a season for dreaming with Me!”
What has happened so far is that I have begun to live from a place of hope again instead of a place of just getting by. I’ve begun to trust that He’s got it all taken care of. I’ve begun to believe that my dreams have already come true because He sees the end from the very beginning. It’s only a matter of timing, now. And I have to say, this is a MUCH more fun way of doing life. It feels like the night before Christmas as a kid. Remember how you just KNEW those presents were going to show up under the tree (the right place) on Christmas Day (the right time), and they were going to be AMAZING? Yeah, it’s like that times ten thousand. And by the way, God always picks out the perfect gifts. How do I know this? Because I always dreamt of traveling as a child, and He has given me trip after trip over the past couple of years. And He hasn’t stopped giving! I am going to Alaska at the end of May, which has been on my “WANT!!” list ever since 3rd grade, when I did a report on Seward’s Folly and promptly decided I MUST go there one day. He just gave me that one yesterday, and I am so excited! I want to jump around and dance like an idiot and yell and scream because it’s just SO COOL! 😀 And you know, it’s not just the traveling that’s so cool. It’s that this came up seemingly out of the blue – 3 days ago, it was still a 29 year-old dream in the back of my mind. But HE never forgot, and He put it together and just sort of casually gave it to me, and it’s awesome because it’s not like going to Alaska is a life-or-death deal for me. But I’ve wanted it, and He gets such enjoyment out of giving His kids good gifts. So He gave it.
If you’ve forgotten your dreams, like I had, I want to encourage you to ask the Lord to help you remember them. If you feel like your dreams are dead, rewrite the lyrics because they are SO not. He will breathe life back into them for you – LIFE. Joy, abundance, enthusiasm, giggles, beauty. FUN. Poor Fantine didn’t grasp this, but you can. 🙂 Because hope IS high and life IS worth living.