Not measuring up?
A Christian Science perspective: A lesson in identity from the Narnia film "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader."
The most recent Narnia film, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” includes a powerful message about identity. At one point when Lucy, one of the main characters, looks into a mirror, she is as beautiful as her sister, Susan. In fact, in the mirror she is Susan. Lucy had longed to be beautiful, so she is happy to “be” her sister.
Later, however, in a vision, Lucy again sees her “Susan self,” this time with her two brothers. And when someone asks where Lucy is, they all reply that they don’t know any Lucy. With that, Lucy’s distinct identity and importance dawns on her; both she and Susan are required to complete their family.
Lucy almost got tricked into believing that something about her wasn’t good enough. This can be a challenge for many of us. So how do we get past the fear and worry that somehow we don’t measure up?
Jesus’ teachings can be helpful. Jesus did many wonderful things – healed sickness, raised the dead, stopped storms, fed huge crowds. Yet he made it clear that what he did was God’s work. He worked as God’s representative, God’s witness. Referring to himself, Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatsoever the Father does, the Son does likewise” (John 5:19, New Revised Standard Version ). Jesus’ statement implies total dependence on God for all that he was and in all that he did.
Jesus taught that God is our Father, too. Likewise, we do nothing on our own. In doing God’s work, being God’s witness, we, too, are wonderful. Further reassurance of our worth is in another of Jesus’ statements: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48, NRSV). We can trust Jesus’ words and know that we are worthy.
In her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy affirmed that our individuality is spiritual and Godlike. She wrote, “Identity is the reflection of Spirit, the reflection in multifarious forms of the living Principle, Love” (p. 477).
It’s important to know who we are, especially at those times when we doubt our worth, or when we recognize that our thoughts or behavior don’t match that witness or model. Knowing who we really are enables us to change, to be more consistent in our thinking and acting as God’s witness. And we can be confident that God is with us to enable those changes. (Remember how Lucy was shown what she needed to see in order to appreciate her own individual worth?)
I had a Lucy experience of my own. In my first job, I was not quite sure how to be a professional. A high-powered friend became my model. And so I tried to be her. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do it. She was smarter, moved faster, was more of a go-getter – more of everything, or so it seemed. I just couldn’t be her.
Then one day in frustration and despair, I had a “Lucy” insight. While I was so busy trying to be her, no one was being me. This insight took the pressure off, and I felt free to develop in my own way. Jesus’ teachings and an idea from Mrs. Eddy’s writings were both comforting and freeing to me. She wrote, “Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity” (“Retrospection and Introspection,” p. 70).
My achievements never matched my friend’s – and actually her achievements didn’t match mine. We both made our own unique contribution.
Wherever we are, each of us is always needed to express the fullness and glory of God.