they call me, they call me Mimi
I played the role of an exotic dancer back in high school.
We were in our senior year and one of our major requirements for our Music class that year was to do a small musical production. The heads of the class gathered and they turned to me and said, “You’re going to be Mimi from Rent.” Looking back, I’m not really sure why they asked me to do the part…I’m pretty sure it was because the best singers in our class were already part of the Glee Club and they were exempted from participating but why me? Maybe because I had managed to sing in front of the entire school during our freshman year like fresh meat in a lion’s den? I accepted the role unwittingly, not knowing who Mimi was, let alone what Rent was, simply because I liked the idea of breaking out into songs in the middle of my dreary monotonous life.
And so I went home and started my research. Apparently a movie version of the musical had been released the year before and so I got myself a copy of the movie and watched it at home. I remember watching its entirety in our living room and my mom realizing which role I was going to be playing. Needless to say, she wasn’t excited. I remember her look of concern telling me, “You’re going to be a stripper?” I shrugged it off and said, “It’s just for school.”
I’m not sure how we pulled off doing a production of this at school but we did. The script writers had to remove and/or change a lot of expletives and anything that we might get called out on but even then, this wasn’t your typical feel good musical like what the other classes did like Wizard of Oz and Grease. Rent was sad actually, despite having rambunctious songs like Today 4 U and La Vie Boheme. It revolved around a group of starving young artists struggling to survive in New York’s East Village, plagued by HIV/AIDS.
We stood out, though because of this. We became the class that was known for overnight parties simply because our practices for Rent turned into one every time. More importantly, our Rent practices became something like a cause for the entire class to bond on. Different cliques, different barkadas bonding on one cause which was being a part of Rent. Seasons of Love, the company song from the musical, became the theme of our year, and it eventually became one of our graduation songs.
Having been able to play one of the main characters in this musical, I grew attached to it that every year since then I would have one of those moments where I’d just listen to the Original Broadway Cast recording over and over and reminisce all the songs. Phrases like “forget regret” or “no day but today” would swim in my head from days on end. I was a fan of the sad and hauntingly beautiful. I cheered on the underdogs. It did not cross my mind that at the end of chasing that feeling, that sad and hauntingly beautiful, grass thawing, kicking and screaming, I’d be drowning in a sea of mess that I had made of myself with no chances of surviving.
I knew better and yet I still did. I knew better than to go out drinking with a group of male friends and yet I still did. I knew better than to get drunk and be stranded in the middle of the night with a person I’ve only known for a couple of months and be taken advantage of. Yet. I. Still. Did. I knew better than to get involved with men who were only after sex, but I was chasing a feeling, and so I still did. I kept repeating the same mistakes in a span of a year because they weren’t mere mistakes anymore. They were sins.
new every morning
But God, in His mercy and lovingkindness, gave me a blank slate in the form of New York City. I didn’t know it then, of course, but I can tell now that God had already started His work in me the moment my visa got approved. I had made such a mess of myself that God had to move me eight thousand miles away to turn my back on who I was, say, “Get behind me, Satan!”, and start a new life in Christ. To add to that, the friend from high school who prayed for my Salvation back in 2011 ended up becoming the man proposing to me exactly five years later and is now my husband.
I set foot in New York still chasing La Vie Boheme but got granted a grander life as co-heir to Christ in His Kingdom when I invited Jesus into my life. God desires one thing and that is to restore us back to Him because He loves us soooooo much!
When I became Christian, it was like I put on a different set of lenses such that the simple things that had certain meaning to me before all of a sudden are magnified by who Jesus is. On Christmas Eve, Seasons of Love started playing in my head and I wanted to share it. I remember being adamant at first because of what the entire musical was all about but then I didn’t really see any harm in the song itself. And so I decided to share the lyrics anyway and the post goes like this:
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
Measure (it) in love.
But love just as He first loved us.
There is no condemnation in Jesus. The characters from Rent—Roger, Mimi, Collins, Angel, Mark, Maureen, and Joanne—they would all have been welcome in Christ’s arms if they so desired to seek Him. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus was known for hanging out with the sinners and he was called out on it by the Pharisees. He later on tells them, “‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous but the sinners.” (Matt. 9:12)
We are not deserving of Salvation for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. But God loves us so much! That’s why Jesus is the Good News! God came on earth through Jesus Christ so he could bear all our sins and die on the cross on our behalf just so that we can be restored back to God; all because He loves us! And all that we really have to do is to believe in him who died and rose again. It is never too late. You could be sixty or eighty years old and God will still pursue you all because He loves you!
As for us who are saved, who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are called to make room for the lost. Make room so that those that are not yet saved will also be redeemed.
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices more over that one sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Matt. 18:12-14)
♪ Oh you’ve got to remember the love. You know that love is a gift from up Above. Share love. Give love. Spread love. Measure your life in love. ♩
And so this coming year, this is my challenge to you and even to myself: to Seek Him first and love Him who has given us eternal life, and to love others just as God has first loved us.