Over the past few weeks, I’ve been meeting – virtually of course – with a group of young people from churches all over Wessex Synod for a series of Lent discussions based around the film ‘Rocketman’, the biopic of Elton John’s life. I’d never seen the film before, and if you haven’t, then I thoroughly recommend you do; if only so you can dance round your living room/bedroom/study to Crocodile Rock pretending you’re there at the Troubadour where it all took off for him. Near the climax of the story, Elton is looking back on his life, and in a flashback Bernie Taupin, John’s long-term lyricist says to him, “You just need to remember who you are, and be okay with it”.
Being okay with who you are can be hard work. Accepting our own limitations can be difficult. And moving forward in spite of them, even because of them is a tough thing to do. We can see it over and over again in the Bible too – Moses who repeatedly told God he couldn’t go back to the Egyptian leaders to ask for the Israelites’ freedom, until God sent Aaron as well, and he managed exactly what he feared he was unable to achieve. Jonah, who had to be swallowed by a big fish/whale/insert large underwater animal of your choice here. David, about to fight Goliath and Mary about to have God’s child – both very young and no doubt very nervous for what God had in store for them. Even Jesus, who knew all along the plan for his life, cried out on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”.
I often have trouble with the idea of God ‘forgiving’ me each Sunday when I remember to pray and read my Bible, knowing full well that we will not converse again for another seven days despite my best intentions. The previously noted scene from the film made me consider one possible reason – must I first learn to forgive myself before I can be forgiven by God? Is the most important part of living in God’s truth that you allow yourself to live as you are, rather than who you may feel circumstance has forced you to be?
I’m sure you’ve heard about the Chinese pots mended with gold dust (Kintsugi) so that as they are broken they become more beautiful and more unique. In the same way, as Taupin says, we should learn to be okay with exactly who we are; our flaws and our strengths and everything in between. As Will Shakespeare puts it in Henry VIII – “We all are men, in our own natures frail, and capable of our flesh; few are angels.”
I’d like to end this thought by suggesting that, before you rush off to watch ‘Rocketman’, open up YouTube or Spotify (other music playing applications are available!) and listen to ‘Come Now Is The Time To Worship’ with my favourite line from any worship song: “come, just as you are before your God”.