06 Apr Do You Know Who You Are?
Every couple of weeks or so, our family has a movie night. We usually have dinner together at our dining room table and talk about our days. So, every now and then, we like to give that a break and eat while watching a movie we’ve all agreed we want to see. Now, sometimes there is compromise. Anna and I may not be totally excited to see the newest kids movie but, if we hear it’s good, or at least okay, we will give it a chance. We usually make some kind of finger food that’s not too messy (chicken wings being the exception to this rule) and we sit down to enjoy our evening together.
Recently, we had the opportunity to watch Disney’s latest animated musical, Moana. When it first came out, we weren’t sure that our kids would want to see it as it looked like it might be too scary for them. Our kids tend to get physically anxious for the characters in the movie when they appear to be in danger and their well being is in doubt, which is something that seemed like it would happen often in Moana. I put it on hold at our local library anyway knowing that I and Anna at least would watch it together some night but once it came in both of our kids said they wanted to watch it.
Moana was a great movie. The animation was incredible, the characters were enjoyable, the humour was good and even unexpected at times, and the music was fantastic and powerful (even Dwayne Johnson did a decent job with his song!).
Disney has always been good at telling a story and the story of Moana is no exception. Utilizing several myths from the Pacific Islands, the movie tells the story of a young woman named Moana who sets sail from her island to find a demigod named Maui, who once stole the “heart” from the mother island which has brought a darkness or blight to the ocean and its other islands, and to, with him, return the heart to the mother island and restore peace and prosperity to all.
There is a theme at the heart of the movie that I find myself continuing to think about; it is the importance of who we are and the damage that can come with forgetting that. Moana learns that her people, while currently content to live on their island, used to be voyagers travelling the vast ocean to discover new islands. This fills her with a longing for adventure along with determination and confidence for the mission ahead of her.
Perhaps my favourite scene of the movie is when, after a failed attempt to reach the mother island, Moana is abandoned by Maui and left alone on her boat, ready to turn around and go home. Her recently deceased grandmother’s spirit appears to her and tells her (in song, of course!) what she sees in Moana, how her experiences and the people in her life have shaped her, and then asks her, “Do you know who you are?” Moana then sings a beautiful song about her loves, her family, her history, the things she’s already accomplished on her journey, and that these things form her calling which act inside of her as her identity and guide. In being reminded of who she is, Moana gains the strength and the determination to carry on. (I just went and watched the scene again because it’s so good!)
I’m thinking about this today because I’m reminded of the power of identity and calling. When I have at times felt beaten down in my vocation, it has been the initial call I’ve felt God placed on my life and people along the way who have spoken into my life the ability they see in me, the places that I’ve come from and gone to, reminders of my identity, that have enabled me to carry on. It makes me think of the tendency of God to name people in the Bible or to remind them of the significance of their name; speaking to Gideon about his identity as a mighty warrior while he cowers in the winepress; changing Abram’s name to Abraham, father of a multitude, and Sarai’s name to Sarah, mother of nations; Jesus telling Simon Peter that he was going to call him Cephas (or just Peter) which means rock; Paul referring to Peter as Cephas in some of his letters, perhaps to remind him as to who Jesus had declared him to be. God often sees us differently than we see ourselves and, I believe, it is one of His many mercies to show us and speak to us about who we truly are.
I’m also reminded of the dangers of forgetting our identity. When I forget who I am or where I’ve come from or how God sees me, I can shrink in the presence of difficulties and challenges. I can treat others as less than me and I can lash out so that others know how significant I am even though I’ve forgotten this myself.
So, many times we see in the Bible that we are told about who we are. We are told repeatedly that we are sons and daughters of God, that he is pleased with us, that we are known by Him, that we are cared for and treasured, that we are made in His image, that we carry within us His own Spirit, that we are blessed to be a blessing. I need to be reminded of who I am so that I can carry on, doing what I know needs to be done and what, deep down inside, I really want to do.
I’m thankful for this reminder from an unexpected place.