A close friend took me to see Rent at a local theater in (early) celebration of my birthday. I had seen Rent before 5 or 6 years ago and didn’t really plan to see it again. It turned out to be an incredible experience, the whole thing impacted me in a much deeper way than it had previously. Here are a few things that impacted me deeply as I watched the show.
Roger, sings about glory, one song, one glorious contribution to the world before his departure from it. His death presses on him due to the fact that he has AIDS and he doesn’t know how much longer he’ll be here. He fights against utter despair, trying to find a reason for whatever time he has left. I can’t imagine the hopelessness he feels, my troubles shrink in comparison and yet I have felt what he’s singing about, although less desperately, and so his song resonates with my soul.
Mimi struggles with addiction. When she tries to fight it, the dealer is there in her moment of weakness to lure her back in. Her addiction destroys her relationships and almost kills her. Watching the performance I was overwhelmed with her bondage and feelings of powerlessness. Again, I’ve never struggled to the extent Mimi does, but I’ve experienced bondage, to sin, bitterness, anger, despair, fear. As I watch her weakness and struggles, my heart aches for all of the people for whom this is an everyday reality.
The homeless people who sing several times about Christmas bells that are ringing, but not for them. The hardness of heart that can come in when you’re constantly overlooked and ignored, again, something I’ve experienced to a lesser degree.
I think everyone can identify with these characters to some extent. Who of us hasn’t struggled with despair, bondage, desperation, fear, feeling worthless, hardness of heart. And yet it’s so easy to have contempt for others or overlook the needs around us everyday. Seeing Rent again reminded me to strive to be compassionate and gracious with others but I know that only Christ can accomplish this. So I purpose once again to let Him do His work of grace in my heart, knowing that tomorrow morning I’ll need to purpose all over again.