Like much of the live theatre loving population of the country, I have become captivated with the Broadway phenomenon Hamilton. I have not yet been blessed enough to get to see it. I have, however, purchased – and memorized large parts of – the unbelievably amazing soundtrack and am currently reading Mr. Chernow’s book that Mr. Miranda based the musical on.
I have become increasingly intrigued by the character of Aaron Burr and his motivations. Mr. Burr served eventually as a senator of New York and Vice President of the United States under President Thomas Jefferson. However, deep inside, I believe he was an insecure and fearful little boy.
We know Aaron Burr was orphaned at a young age. He was raised by an uncle. In the soundtrack to Hamilton, Burr is described as completing his education at a record pace to fulfill the wish of his deceased parents. He is very motivated by the desire to maintain the legacy his parents began. I believe that Burr’s biggest flaw is being an extreme people pleaser. In the soundtrack, he offers the advice to Hamilton on several occasions, “Talk less; smile more. Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.” Deep inside he was missing the praise and encouragement most of us receive from a relationship with our parents. Since he lost that opportunity, he looked for it from other people he saw as important.
We see him looking for the approval from George Washington both on the battlefield and in politics. He seeks out a secretary position in Washington’s cabinet, which he does not receive. He seeks out approval from the people of New York, by actively campaigning door to door for the senator position, which he earns. He seeks out approval from the people of the United States by running for the position of President, which he did not receive.
As a people pleaser myself, I can understand a little of what Burr seemed to be enduring. While I had a good relationship with my parents growing up, like Burr, I always felt I was second place to others around me. I never had the opportunity to shine like friends did. I remember a conversation with my mother about a part I was auditioning for in my high school drama department. I was auditioning for a lead part. My mother told me to pursue my dream, but to keep in mind that I was “not leading lady material.” While I now understand her statement, at the time it crushed me. I thought that even my own mother did not believe in me. When I, in fact, did not receive the part I was auditioning for, but once again got the part of the comic relief, I decided I was always going to be second place, if I was lucky.
In my adulthood this has continued. I still find myself longing to shine. However, I have learned that instead of looking to be the best, I need to look to find God’s purpose for my life. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (ESV) While I may never shine by the world’s standards, I need to fulfill my purpose and shine in my own life and mind.
I can’t help but wonder what Aaron Burr could have accomplished if he had looked for his purpose rather than his next spotlight. What was his true purpose?
We have to each make the decision if we will search out glory by the world’s standards or if we will look to God and allow Him to tell us what His purpose is for us. Will we be like Burr and Hamilton and leave people wondering what we could have done if we had only been given more time, or will we use every day to the best of not our abilities, but His?