Jean Valjean is the protagonist of Victor Hugo’s classic work Les Miserables. In the story, he spends decades in prison for trying to steal a loaf of bread to feed his relatives and later trying to escape. He spent so much time in prison that he grew hardened and bitter, but because of the kindness of a stranger, he turned his life around and devoted it to God.
Eventually he becomes mayor of a French town and rises to be a man of means and respectability. Through an oversight, he causes a woman to lose her job, a single mother who is paying someone else to watch her only child.
When Valjean saw this woman next, she had been reduced to a wretched state and was close to death. Realizing what he had done, he offered to take the girl as his own child.
He was true to his word and raised the girl as his own, and was a beloved father to her. Only at the end of his life, did he reveal his true nature and what he had done for her mother.
Jean Valjean’s story is one that should give us all hope. Valjean was willing to go to any length to help this family, and though he lost his way for a long time, he turned his life around and became the faithful father.
It can be easy to let the person we have been before define our future, but that doesn’t need to be the case. This up to us to choose what kind of person we will be in the future and what we will do to help atone for the mistakes of our past.