Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Simple Story of Redemption

Katy began a great discussion with her post about what redemption looks like in fiction. Please bear with me as I share a simple story of redemption on a different level.

Years ago when I was newly engaged, I went shopping with
my future mother-in-law to a Green Stamp Redemption Center. She had books filled with reams of stamps that she had dampened and stuck carefully onto the pages. The stamps had been earned at the grocery store, the gas station and other businesses with the 'We give Green Stamps' sign in the window.

Being the saintly woman that she was (and I'm being sincere), she handed me a bundle and told me to pick out something for myself. There were many useful
and practical items on display and I spent a long time choosing. Then I saw the bean pot! I could never explain why it appealed to me so strongly, except that it was painted in homey colors with a rooster on the front and it was autumn, after all. I took my choice to the counter to show her and was met with puzzlement. "A bean pot? Well it's...nice." The toasters and electric knives and baking dishes would have been more practical choices, and I realized that I'd passed up an opportunity to show my practicality as a wife for her son. But if Alice was anything, she was gracious.

My bean pot now sits high on a shelf in my kitchen among other retro kitchen-ware. And while shopping one day for '40s dish towels, tablecloths, canisters and pitchers, I came across the same bean pot with a surprising price tag. It turns out that my bean pot is a McCoy and worth more than just sentimental value. It was probably the best choice I could have made. Did I recognize the value in it? Yes, but not as others saw it.

I have a character swimming around in my brain, wading in the gray matter, who is just a bean pot. She is not very heroic, attractive or practical. She doesn't have her life together or truly understand God's love for her. She's made mistakes - some with lasting consequences. But she's likable, I think, in that she stumbles toward redemption trying to make it happen for herself without realizing the cost involved or the futility in her striving. I'm loving that I get to show her how much God wants to redeem her and her situation. Her life won't miraculously blossom - her slate won't be wiped clean - but she will find that her worth is much greater than she knew, greater than the way she lived her life. And she will marvel at the One who recognized her worth in spite of the condemnation she deserved.

From the great host of characters who find redemption in literature, which stands out to you most? We would love to hear!


Katie Ganshert said...

One of my favorite books about a character finding redemption is Home Another Way by Christa Parrish. Sarah Graham grabbed my heart.

Julia M. Reffner said...

Mary DeMuth's novels would top my list. Resurrection in May by Lisa Samson was a great story of redemption I read recently.

My all time favorite though is Jean Val Jean from Les Miserables. In my opinion one of the most powerful novels of justice vs. mercy and redemption.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

So many times I feel like the bean pot. Loved this thought.

As always, I'll be thinking about your question throughout the day. If I get a chance I'll hop back here.

~ Wendy

Lori Benton said...

The character who leaps to mind first for me is Angel in Redeeming Love. Classic. Even the title agrees. :)

But last night I finished reading Charles Martin's The Mountain Between Us, and I'm going to add Ben Payne as one of my favorite redemption-finding characters of all time (at least my time), or as Martin puts it on his website, characters who journey "from a real bad place of being broken to a place of not broken."

And I like that bean pot, Debbie. It would have appealed to me, too, over the shiny, electric gadgets and gizmos galore.

Jan Cline said...

Ok, Im going to be trite here and say that I always loved how Mr. Darcy redeemed himself and won the love of Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. It's not a spiritual redemption, but one that many people live every day in their discovery of sincerity in relationships.

Teri Dawn Smith said...

The character who immediately came to mine while reading your post was Angel from Redeeming Love. (I see Lori also thought of her.)

Sofie in Susan May Warren's Sons of Thunder also comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

I just finished Some Wild Flower in my Heart by Jamie Langston Turner, which I read for the second time. I don't often do that, but I do love her writing. In that novel, Margaret Tuttle has an amazing journey toward redemption because of the godliness of a woman she worked with.

Nicole said...

Reese in Secrets by Kristen Heitzmann (and Unforgotten).

Sara in Redeeming Love (or Angel, Mara)

Joey Parr in The Famous One (hey, can't help it: loved him)

Latayne C Scott said...

I gotta say that Bonnie Grove's protag in Talking to the Dead is redeemed and transformed by the renewing of her mind, just like Romans 12:2 says.

Tina said...

The Passion of Mary Margaret by Lisa Samson is probably the most redemptive book I've ever read. I really went away from that book thinking about how such ordinary and broken people can really be changed and used and how the book is just a wonderful picture of God's grace.

I really love this post. Thanks.

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Jan, I have to agree with you about Mr. Darcy.

I have read several books lately that don't really show redemption. The author puts the character on stage with all his/her faults and says, "this is life - don't expect anything more." or "People don't change." It tires me to get that far in a book and not see growth. And I toss it across the room!

Bonnie Way aka the Koala Mom said...

Wow, love the story of the bean pot. And it's a cute pot, btw. I'd buy it! :)

I agree with other suggestions here: Angel in Redeeming Love, Jude in The Passion of Mary-Margaret, the narrator in Talking to the Dead. Lots of great redemption stories in literature.

Tana said...

Redeeming Love had so many of these great characters!