This Is Me: A Deeper Look at a Powerful Song

April 30, 2018

 

 

 

THIS IS ME 

 

“This is ME.” Powerful words. To be able to proclaim them aloud in the presence of another takes courage and strength. For before I can make this proclamation, I have to find the audacity to utter these three words to myself.  

 

“This is ME.” Strengths and faults, “This is ME.” While I may not yet be able to fully embrace all facets of who I am, I say to myself and others, “This is ME.” While there may be areas of my life I want to grow in or change, today, I proclaim, “This is Me.” 

 

Throughout my life, a factor so real to me that it became human like consistently kept me from claiming these words. Meet Expectations. Initially, Expectations was a stranger to me. As an infant I had no awareness of its presence. Eventually, I was introduced to Expectations by adults and peers. Its objective was clear, to shape me into the likeness of the majority of people around me. The same people Expectations had already worked its magic upon. Expectations’ creed was “This is us” not “This is me.” I share with you an example of how this played once played out in my life. 

 

New Scene  

 

I had been in my new church for only a few weeks when a church member, who had been part of the team that hired me, confronted me.  

 

“Tony, I think we hired the wrong person,” she said. 

 

“Don’t freak out. Remain calm.” I told myself. “Look confidant.” 

 

“What do you mean?” I asked. 

 

“You talk about Jesus way too much in your sermons and you hold the Bible far too long. Once you read from it, just set it down.” 

 

This event was not a major issue. Initially, none of them were. They were, however, forecasting the weather over the horizon. Sure enough, the big storm blew in and left destruction in its path while carrying me off with it. For four years I used every trick up my sleeve to make “ME” work at that church. Unsuccessful. With time and distance, along with help from others unloading the crap of self-doubt I had piled upon myself, I finally realized that woman was right. They hired the wrong person. They hadn’t hired “ME.” They hired the Tony who they thought they could mold to fit their expectations stemming from a long tenured previous minister. Some of these expectations they probably weren’t even aware of. However, the more I became aware of them, I found courage and strength to start living out the words, “I am brave, I am bruised. I am who I'm meant to be, this is ME.” I didn’t do this on my own. One church member in particular, a psychiatrist, believed in ME. He encouraged me to remain true and steady to my convictions and values in a loving yet powerful way. 

 

This experience helped me realize the further out you are from the accepted norm, the greater the effort exerted by others to bring you into conformity. To bring this about a variety of tactics are employed. At first, they are subtle, pleading and cajoling. Nonetheless, if the appropriate results don’t come about, they hand you an all-expenses paid ticket to Guilt. If you return from the trip looking and acting the same, assorted expressions of disappointment and anger await you at your front door. Eventually, out of sheer hopelessness and despair, they roll out the cannons and start firing cannon balls with the word “Rejection” engraved on each one. 

 

Benj Pasek, one of the writers of the hit, “This is Me,” from the movie The Greatest Showman, at one point experienced some, perhaps even all of these tactics. “For myself, I was a closeted gay man who as a teenager felt like the world was inundating me with messages that you’re not good enough or you’re unlovable.” Therefore, when Director Michael Gracey started looking for “an anthemic song for the people who had lived in the shadows their entire lives and had stepped in the light, declaring they would be seen and love themselves as they are,” Pasek found that wounded place within and begin to compose a song that would resonate with many of us. 

 

New Scene  

 

The Bearded Woman, from the movie The Greatest Showman, sings “This is Me” in the midst of the nobles while surrounded by the rest of Barnum’s misfits. Misfits, the ones you might drop a few bucks to go gaze at and find entertaining; not the ones you expect to see outside of their environment and especially not in yours. If you watch the scene closely, you might catch the cameo appearance by Jesus. Jesus’s makeup and wardrobe make him difficult to spot. Some have thought they saw him disguised as Tom Thumb or Fedor Jeftichew, the Dog-Faced Boy. That doesn’t surprise me. The historical Jesus would have fit in perfectly with Barnum’s motley crew and sang with gusto as he harmonized with the Bearded Woman, “This is ME.”  

 

New Scene  

 

Jesus reclining at a table with those who have been pushed to the margins of society. Jesus appears at ease, comfortable, a smile on his face interspersed with lively laughter. As he receives a slice of bread from the young man who has lost everything because he couldn’t keep up with his debt, Jesus says to him, “You know that you deserve love (Oh-oh-oh-oh) 'cause there's nothing you’re not worthy of.” Between sips of wine, Jesus makes eye contact with the physically disabled woman seated across the table, “Your marching on to the beat of your drum (marching on, marching, marching on). Don’t be scared to be seen. Make no apologies. Proclaim with pride, “This is ME.” 

 

“This is ME.” Powerful words. May you and I find the resolve to claim them for ourselves. May we find the passion to support and empower others to do the same. 

 

Watch “This is Me” with Keala Settle, 20th Century Fox 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLFEvHWD_NE 

 

 

 

“This is Me” Lyrics 

 

I am not a stranger to the dark 
Hide away, they say 
'Cause we don't want your broken parts 
I've learned to be ashamed of all my scars 
Run away, they say 
No one'll love you as you are 

 

But I won't let them break me down to dust 
I know that there's a place for us 
For we are glorious 

 

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down 
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out 
I am brave, I am bruised 
I am who I'm meant to be, this is me 
Look out 'cause here I come 
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum 
I'm not scared to be seen 
I make no apologies, this is me 

 

Oh-oh-oh-oh 
Oh-oh-oh-oh 
Oh-oh-oh-oh 
Oh-oh-oh-oh 
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh 

 

Another round of bullets hits my skin 
Well, fire away 'cause today, I won't let the shame sink in 
We are bursting through the barricades and 
Reaching for the sun (we are warriors) 
Yeah, that's what we've become (yeah, that's what we've become) 

 

I won't let them break me down to dust 
I know that there's a place for us 
For we are glorious 

 

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down 
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out 
I am brave, I am bruised 
I am who I'm meant to be, this is me 
Look out 'cause here I come 
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum 
I'm not scared to be seen 
I make no apologies, this is me 

 

Oh-oh-oh-oh 
Oh-oh-oh-oh 
Oh-oh-oh-oh 
Oh-oh-oh-oh 
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh 
This is me 

 

and I know that I deserve your love 
(Oh-oh-oh-oh) 'cause there's nothing I'm not worthy of 
(Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh) 
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down 
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out 
This is brave, this is proof 
This is who I'm meant to be, this is me 

 

Look out 'cause here I come (look out 'cause here I come) 
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum (marching on, marching, marching on) 
I'm not scared to be seen 
I make no apologies, this is me 

 

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down 
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out 
I'm gonna send a flood 
Gonna drown them out 
Oh 
This is me 

 

Songwriters: Justin Paul / Benj Pasek 

This Is Me lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd. 

 

 

Rev. Tony Minear, PhD. is the Lead Pastor at Church of the Beatitudes a Progressive Christian Church based in Phoenix AZ. 

To reach Pastor Tony

Email: tominear@beatitudeschurch.org

Phone: 602-264-1221

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BeatitudesChurch/

www.beatitudeschurch.org 

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