Who Am I?

And who are you?

I watched Rise of Skywalker tonight with my guys and loved every moment. Fans are pretty invested in the franchise and have been pretty vocal about every movie since Episode 1. There were a lot of criticisms of this movie in particular but the one that caught my eye was the accusation that this movie undid everything that happened in the previous installment.

In The Last Jedi, we were led to believe that Rey's parents were nobodies who sold their daughter for some drinking money. There had been a lot of build-up and speculation about the parentage of this powerful young woman and to learn she was truly a "nobody" was a bit of a surprise and let down. For us and for Rey.

Spoiler alert! We learn in Rise of Skywalker that Rey is actually the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine. She'd been sold by her parents in order to protect her from her evil grandfather. The force is strong with Rey and at one point we even see her shoot electricity from her hands, just like her infamous grandfather.

Rey had to first come to terms with the idea that she was no-one of note. She had no family, no lineage. This made her feel adrift until she accepted the idea and learned that who she was had more to do with herself and not that of anyone who had come before her. Her choices, her motives, her desires. These things, and more, are what made her who she was.

Upon learning of her heritage, she struggles again. She's overcome by fear at her grandfather's legacy and the expectations put upon her. Is the evil that resides in her grandfather her ultimate fate? Is it something she can fight against or is it simply inevitable? Is it a choice?

Rey struggles to see the forest for the trees, but we viewers have a wider lens. We see the same struggle writhing within Ben Solo (Kylo Ren). He has an impressive heritage, to be sure. Both good and bad of both extremes. He decides to follow in the path of his grandfather, Darth Vader, in becoming a Sith. For him, it is clearly a choice, although not an easy one.

In the first episode of the trilogy, he is shown killing his own father after uttering the words, "I know what I need to do, I just don't know if I'm strong enough." He utters the same in the final episode right before he throws his saber into the raging ocean. Ben races to Rey and ends up imparting his own life to her in order to save her. The same man who chose to take his own father's life, chooses to give his life to the woman he loves.

I've always been interested in my family history and genealogy. I loved hearing my grandmother's stories and looking at old pictures. It became a bit of an obsession to me, especially before I met my dad. I'd pour over pictures and analyse stories and wonder how I fit into the puzzle. After meeting the other half of my family I would sometimes agonize over who I looked like and what characteristics I inherited from whom.

Having grown up in a dysfunctional family, I find that I'm often digging through the past - behaviors, incidents, and patterns, and searching for clues. I think that's really normal and is healthy and beneficial. To a point.

But in the end, I've concluded, that once you can see the past and analyze it objectively (somewhat) you have to choose to let it all go. It's not the family, the name, the patterns, the past, that make me who I am, it's the choices I make every single day.

I believe God understand this pull toward lineage and history which is why the Bible often talks about our relationship with God and others in terms of family.

For his fountain of mercy has given us a new life—we are reborn[g] to experience a living, energetic hope[h] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.[i] We are reborn into a perfect inheritance[j] that can never perish, never be defiled, and never diminish. It is promised and preserved forever in the heavenly realm for you![k] 1 Peter 1: 3-4

18 For you know that your lives were ransomed once and for all from the empty and futile way of life handed down from generation to generation. It was not a ransom payment of silver and gold, which eventually perishes, 19 but the precious blood of Christ—who like a spotless, unblemished lamb was sacrificed for us.[ad] 1 Peter 1:18-19

How beautiful and full of hope are those words!?

I don't think it's to our benefit to ignore our family of origin and the "empty and futile way of life" we may have been born into. We have to look it full in the face. But only for redemption's sake. Then we can lay it down and embrace the family we've been called into. Rey made that choice when we stood against the wishes of her grandfather and when she adopted the name Skywalker. Ben made that choice when he hurled his saber into the ocean.

We willfully turn our backs on the pain and suffering and poor decisions that came before us -  ours and others - and embrace the glorious legacy God freely offers to us.


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