The Greatest Showman, a Message of Empowerment

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The Greatest Showman is a movie that chronicles the true story of  P. T. Barnum. I love watching movies based on true stories. This movie celebrates Barnum’s innovation and courage to create the most famous circus of all time.  This movie was so inspiring and beautiful. The singing and dancing were phenomenal.  But what  really inspired me were the messages of this movie and how they touched my heart.

I love how the movie celebrates the value of marriage and family.  Barnum married his childhood sweetheart. While he came from a poor background, his wife Charity Hallett came from a very wealthy background.  He set out to make a “good life” for Charity. His mission and drive to become successful, partly for her and their children, almost became the thing that drove them apart.  He wanted to prove that he was worthy of Charity, yet it was clear that Charity loved him just as he was, apart from all wealth or success. Yet, deep in his soul he struggled to believe he measured up.  I love the message from Charity that his identity did not come from his success. She saw his heart, his creativity, his love for life. This is a beautiful love story. The movie conveys that he was tempted by a woman, Jenny Lind, whom he helped promote.  She was a beautiful singer. They travelled together and spent a lot of time alone together. His temptation for her almost ruined his marriage. Fortunately, he did not give in to temptation and instead chose his wife and family. Unlike a lot of movies that celebrate affairs, I appreciated that this movie celebrated marriage.  Although it seems that the movie took artistic license in this part of the movie, Barnum resisting temptation was a refreshing change from most Hollywood movies.

I also love how this movie celebrates following your God given desires and pursuing your talents.  Barnum clearly had a unique imagination. In his attempts to create and become innovative he faced a lot of rejection and persecution.  His museum burned down, and that easily could have shut him down, but he made the brave choice to keep persevering. It is so easy in the face of rejection and hardship to give up and Barnum’s endurace despite all of that was really inspiring. These themes were conveyed through the beautiful song, “A Million Dreams.”

Here are some of the lyrics:

“I close my eyes and I can see the world that’s waiting up for me.  That I call my own. Through the dark, through the door. Through where no one’s been before. But it feels like home.  They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy.  They can say, they can say that I’ve lost my mind.  I don’t care, I don’t care, so call me crazy.  We can live in a world that we design.  Cause every night I lie in bed.  The brightest colors fill my heard.  A million dreams are keeping me awake. I think of what the world could be.  A vision of the one I see.  A million dreams is all it’s gonna take.  A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.”

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My favorite message in the movie was how Barnum celebrated and united people who felt marginalized.  He saw people who were rejected and dismissed by most of society as people who had something to offer.  He used their gifts in his show and he brought these people together into what became a pseudo family. While Barnum’s motives for using the marginalized people in his shows was probably not completely pure, his actions later in life back up the fact that he saw all people as made in God’s image.  While serving a term in legislature, he spoke before the legislature and spoke against slavery and African-American sufferage. He said, “A human soul, that God has created and died for is not to be trifled with.” One of my favorite songs in the movie is called “This is Me.”  This song empowers those who are ostracized by society for being different.  It is such a powerful song.  Here are the lyrics:

“I am not a stranger to the dark.    “Hide away,” they say.     “Cause we don’t want your broken parts.”  “I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars.   “Run away,” they say.    “No one’ll love you as you are.”     But I won’t let them break me down to dust.   I know that there’s a place for us.    For we are glorious.   When the sharpest words wanna cut me down.    I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out.    I am brave, I am bruised.   I am who I am meant to be, this is me.   Look out cause here I come.   And I’m marching on to the beat I drum.   I’m not scared to be seen.   I make no apologies, this is me.   Another round of bullets hit my skin.   Well, fire away cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in.   We are bursting through the barricades and reaching for the sun.   We are warriors.   Yeah, that’s what we’ve become.   I know that I deserve your love.   There’s nothing that I’m not worthy of.”

This song and these words are so amazingly powerful.  As a counselor I meet with clients every week that have been beaten down because of the wounding of their story.  So many things can make all of us feel unworthy and shameful. I see this happen through stories of sexual abuse and trauma.  Abuse and trauma make us feel marginalized and less than human. I see women who don’t feel like they are beautiful enough or skinny enough.  I see men and women who struggle with their sexual identity. I see people who feel damaged because of their sexual promiscuity. The goal with every person I meet is to help them know that they are valuable.  That they are lovable, worthy of love. My goal is to help them feel empowered in the essence of who God made them. They are worthy as human beings because they are made in the image of God and by a God that loves them.  This is the message of the song This is Me and of this movie.

As this movie portrays, we all have unique gifts and talents.  We all have something unique to offer the world. I hope that if you see this movie, it inspires you to feel worthy and lovable.  I hope it inspires you not to hide or live in shame. I know it did for me.

Come out of hiding and show yourself worthy. “There is a world that is waiting up for you.”

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