“Close your mouth, Michael. We are not a codfish.”
These are the words of Mary Poppins to Michael after she makes her way, magically, up the banner of the stairs. There are multiple times within the movie that tacitly speak to identity.
“Goats but, birds fly…” “Neither am I a maypole!”
Then you have Burt, who is an amalgamation of characters from the original book series. No matter what his occupation of the day is, he’s always a helpful friend.
So, if we are not a codfish, then what are we? For most people, we seem to be identified our jobs. Upon meeting someone, one of the first things they ask are, “So, what do you do?” We know they aren’t asking about a hobby, or what you truly love. They are asking about your job.
Positions take on titles that end up overtaking the practicioner’s very name! As soon as one graduates from medical school; it is culturally appropriate to simple call them, “Doctor.” “Thank you Doctor,” and you never have to actually know her name. If you become the pastor of a church, it isn’t unusual for you to be known as “Reverend” or “Pastor,” as if that is your name as well. I was a child when I first became aware of this. It was pointed out that a relatively young family was visiting, and people mentioned their name. I had no idea who they were, until I looked over and saw one of the local school football coaches. I had no idea of his name, but I had been calling him simply, “Coach” for about three years. Even our geometry teacher, who hadn’t coached in years, was referred to as “Coach Hazel,” or simply “Coach.” It is as if we won’t allow people to have an identity outside of their profession.
Now is a good time to remind us that we are not codfish. We are more than our professions, even more than our hobbies. We are more than parents, wives, husbands, brothers and sisters. We are more.
Genesis 1.27 say:
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
From my particular understanding, every person is created in the image of God. Every person is stamped with the very likeness of divinity. Every person has intrinsic value beyond their ability to produce for a profession. Every person is imbued with meaning, beyond what the world may try to ascribe to them.
We are not codfish, we are more.
As such, we can act appropriately. We can walk erect with self-respect and honor; though not arrogantly. We can serve with humble joy, without caring what others may think of us. We can live and love, worship and praise, enjoy all that life has to offer, without giving in to societies man-made categories to hinder us.
We are not codfish. We are created in the very image of God. We are bearers of the divine image.