In the movie Queen of Katwe (2016) (one of my favorite movies this year), it details the real story of a girl by the name of Phiona, a Ugandan slum girl who discovers she has a prodigious talent in chess. So much so that she is launched onto the national stage as one of Uganda’s best chess players.
The movie plot is predictably heart-warming, but one of the amazing themes highlighted in Phiona’s ascension is her struggle with the displacement of normalcy.
In my favorite scene of the film, after a succession of national victories that bolsters Phiona’s confidence that she could be not just a slum girl but someone quite good, she unfortunately loses an emotional international chess match.
Immediately upon defeat she runs away from the tournament arena in tears, while her coach catches her. When he finally catches this teary-eyed girl, she screams her pain: “I know how to sell maize!”
Behind her tears is the pain of being brought back down to earth. The pain of thinking she could be an amazing chess player, but realizing all she knew for most of her life was selling corn on the street of the slums of Uganda.
It is this displacement of normalcy that the movie beautiful depicts which eventually make her great. This displacement is best summed up in what is probably the movie’s best line said by her coach: “Sometimes the place where we’re used to is not where we belong.”
It is the displacement of normalcy which inspires me to think.
I think about Jesus declaring before Peter, this bold and broken man, that upon that rock he will build his church. The fearful and failing thing Peter was became the bedrock of the church.
I think first of what it means to be a Christian and the struggle most Christians face in not realizing who we are in God. That all we’re used to in our broken selves is our brokenness despite the ambitious calling of God that calls us higher.
I think about manipulative relationships where the girl cannot escape an abusive contract. It is a self declared contract written by the pain of her own heart. A pain that blinds herself from her value and chains her to eating mud pies when the feast of true affection lies elsewhere.
Truly, sometimes the place where we’re used to is not where we belong and I hope that God will bring us there.