I’m a grade-A liar. Or at least I used to be. My friends would tell me it was scary how well I could cheat, lie, and deceive. But even worse than the falsehoods I would speak was the one I was living. I put up the facade of a knowledgeable, virtuous, and kind person, though inside I was unscrupulous and self-serving, always looking for an opportunity to use others to get ahead.
Christa Renz, now officially Historia Reiss in the Attack on Titan anime, has been putting up a facade as well. At a surface level, her comrades see her as a strong and compassionate woman, standing up for others as she did for Sasha when Ymir bullied her. But inside, Christa isn’t who she seems. She’s running away, fearful. And in episode 30, we discover what she’s hiding from: Christa is afraid of her name.
There’s one person who sees through Christa, however. From the beginning, Ymir has known the real person behind those humongous blue eyes, the truth underneath the well-crafted exterior. She can even tell that Christa has a death wish of all things! And despite that, Ymir continues to cling onto her, explaining in a de facto way that she isn’t obsessed with Christa because of her beauty, but because of who she is.
And like a true friend (or really, more like a parent), Ymir pushes Historia to become stronger, to become free, first through her words and actions in the snowy training grounds and then later by sacrificing herself to give Christa a chance at life.
No matter what facade I put up, it’s God who knows who I am on the inside, how lacking I am and how I consistently fail to be the type of person I intend to be. Even as I’ve admitted my true nature to Christ and been forgiven for my misdeeds, I struggle to surrender my whole self to him. I know my real name – I know I’m a son of God, a co-heir with Christ, a servant to the Almighty, but for fear of clinging to God and letting go of my own plans and way of living, I too often choose the bondage of my old name rather than the freedom of living with the new.
And the thing is, living with God is so much better than living by my poorly-made plans constructed with my finite mind. When I choose God’s way, I see the fruit that grows by choosing grace instead of judgement, serving rather than taking, being prayerful about decisions rather than rash with selfish goals of money, pleasure, or success in mind. And still, I choose my old nature so often over the new. I’m often stuck thinking that my true, Christian self will cause me harm and my old self will lead to good, the same as Historia whose new name will literally lead to death, while her real name will lead to life (and slight spoiler alert, Historia receiving her name back is more than just a powerful moment for her, it’s a turning point in many ways for the entire series). The Christa-to-Historia exchange isn’t just another moment of personal transformation, it’s one that Ymir felt was worth sacrificing herself for. As Christa notes, Ymir could have just used the titan-shifting power to escape, but instead uses it to force Historia’s hand. Ymir felt it was worth her very life for Historia to reclaim her name.
When I think about the tug and pull of life, I see so many moments where God may have been encouraging me in ways big and small to remember my name, to remember who I am. And there are moments where he forces my hand, showing me just how much I need him, putting me in positions where I have to cling to the truth or else drown. And though those times, when life is overwhelming or when I’m vividly confronted with my sin, can be painful, my stubborn self needs them, because through such events I’m encouraged to remember that I am not Christa, not anymore. I am Historia.