Not many things in life get me sentimental. Maybe more things should move me to tears, but that’s not who I am. So, when something does stir up my emotions, it’s a pretty big deal. At the risk of losing my “street cred” (not that I have any… but I’ve always wanted to us that phrase) with this post, I have to share an experience my family had last week end.
We were invited to a performance by a group called “RATco,” or random acts of theater company. My wife made the arrangements with a friend to attend, so I was prepared to endure what I imagined would be a Disney musical (complete with platitudes, plastic smiles, and poorly recorded music). In case you were wondering, Disney movies don’t move me much (Pixar movies on the other hand…).
My preconceived ideas were shattered in opening moments of the show. Kids of all ages, sizes and abilities started to slowly walk onto the stage and share their life stories. Some of them were abandoned by their parents, others were bullied at school, some of them looked down on for a disability, and others discredited because of their race.
One by one, those same kids talked about the hope they had found. They didn’t make any excuses for their circumstances. The leaders of RATco instilled a “new” idea in them. It’s the idea that they are created in God’s image and He sees them as valuable — worthy of love. Instead of letting their past define them, those kids shared stories of hope and acceptance. They are writing a new story… and it was really moving to me.
No harp music or phoniness happened. Some of the kids read their own poetry — and it was hard hitting and current — others created their own lyrics to contemporary rap beats — and everyone on stage danced with a lot of energy. It wasn’t perfect choreography… It was real though… and it was inspiring. The message was clear to me: you don’t have to be perfect to be valuable and useful.
The closing number broke me down. A young girl shared with us that she endured 12 surgeries as a child and was only given a 20% chance to survive. And then, she took out her hearing aids and started to communicate in sign language about her appreciation of life (she’s bilingual… she signed and voiced at the same time).
Everyone was weeping… even me. It was the triumph and not the tragedy. I was so thankful for that moment.
The thought I came away with that night was this (and this will be a stretch to some people): this is exactly what heaven will be like. We will be free to celebrate our uniqueness, and other people will support us in our dreams to overcome the lies of our peers (who say we don’t measure up); the lies of our parents (who either leave us or hold us back); the lies of our bosses (who don’t support our work); the lies of our teachers (who said we couldn’t be more than our grades) or the lies of (you fill in the blank)…
I think heaven is more than harps, halos, and happy people who live in big houses… way more. You may not believe in heaven… that’s ok… people like me (who have been Christians forever) haven’t given you a good enough picture of it yet. The RATco performance gave me a renewed vision of heaven… heaven is a place of community, hope, love, and freedom.
I wish I could describe that evening better… maybe you should go check out a RATco performance for yourself (unless you are afraid to cry). And just so you know, they do more than put on performances. RATco works with people with disabilities, the elderly, and a wide variety of other people who are considered “unworthy” by our society.
What are you doing to bring hope to someone else? Are helping people live out their dreams? Who inspires you (send me an email email@example.com, or leave a comment on this post).