Remember Who You Are
I am a movie lover. The church I grew up in had a prohibition against going to movie theaters. I was a freshman at the University of Oklahoma before I had the experience of seeing a movie in a theater. I suspect that is why I enjoy watching movies so much as I make up for the lost time.
I love all kinds of movies, but I am particularly fond of old movies. Recently I got my quarantined family group to agree to all sit and watch a favorite of mine, Casablanca! Great characters, humor, action, and a brand of unctuous patriotism that has always spoken to me. As a bonus, none of my family had ever seen this classic.
I have watched this movie many times over the years, but this time I had a strong revelation about the arch of the story. I realized that this movie is about the protagonist Rick’s journey in remembering who he really is. The story, at its essence, is about this character finding a place of authentic being. It is a powerful message! For most of the movie, Rick Blaine is an abstainer. There is evil all around him in the form of Nazi soldiers, but he chooses not to resist the evil. His character is engaging in a head-in-the-sand strategy. At one point, he even declares “I stick my neck out for no one.” In the story, Rick has been hurt and he is hiding from the world. But in a final dramatic scene, he remembers former beliefs and ethical commitments. In effect, he remembers who he is in spite of his pain and heartbreak.
When I stop to think about it, remembering who you are or discovering who you are is in the arch of many movies and stories, including stories from holy scripture. The scripture that came to me when I considered this idea was a passage from Peter chapter 10:2 (NRSV):
Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
I know we all have hurt, anxiety, and fear in our lives. Our whole world has been turned upside down. It might be easy to forget who we are, or worse, forget Whose we are. But remember, you are God’s people. You are a child of God. Our circumstances can never change that truth. As my favorite passage from an affirmation of faith says:
In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us.
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.
Quote from Canadian Affirmation of Faith (1968)
In the midst of all or joys, fears, or sorrows remember who and Whose you are.
Grace & Peace,
- Ray Wheeler, Ph.D.