Dr Martin Harris goes to Berlin with his wife for a conference. On the way he is involved in a road accident and ends up in a coma. When he awakes, four days after the accident, no one recognises him. Not even his wife. He tracks down the taxi driver who was with him when the accident happened and together they set out to discover just who he is.
To wake up and find that no one believes you must be a terrifying experience. Martin has no proof of his own identity and, in a strange city, no familiar reference points to grab on to. Whatever he tries, whoever he turns to, he finds a blank wall. Only he believes that he is telling the truth about himself. What kind of things make us who we are? What would be the first things that come to your mind to describe and define yourself to someone else? What are your reference points?
In the movie Martin discovers some hard truths about himself. Truths that others tell him. It’s a shock, the picture he has of himself is not that clear. It’s being adjusted. It’s not easy to hear what others might say about us, but often they can see things which we cannot. Do you have friends who help you see yourself more clearly? Who would you listen to? Who do you trust enough?
Martin is told that he has believed the ‘legend’ he created about himself. Being in a coma has affected his worldview and the picture he has of himself. We all probably have these legends and worldviews – where do we get them from? Advertising? Movies? Past experiences? Are we clear-sighted enough to spot those that are unhealthy and those that are helpful?
We are sometimes damaged by past experiences, and shaped in a negative way. One writer, Adrian Plass, describes how we can end up with graffiti on our hearts. Negative scribblings that others have scrawled across our lives. Destructive comments, painful experiences. These can shape us, mar our self-image and blur our world-view. What do you think about this?
One of the strong recurring themes in the Bible is that of identity. Characters rediscover themselves, see the world with fresh eyes and many make new starts. In the book of Psalms, in Psalm 139, the writer describes his belief that he has been carefully crafted by a compassionate God. His worldview, and his sense of identity are both affected by this.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvellous – and how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable!