An odd Thanksgiving Post.

Being homeschooled is the best, you completely miss big controversies till weeks after they happened.

I heard about this Kanye West thing, but didn’t know what it was about till today.

And, taking my cue from BlimeyCow, one of my favorite YouTubers, I don’t really see it as imperative that I comment on Kanye West’s personal life.

I might listen to the album though, I like rap and Gospel both, so who knows, maybe I’d like them together. (Roll your eyes all you want people over 30.)

But, I couldn’t help noticing some things popping up that I notice a lot with controversy and identity politics and stuff, and since Kanye West’s reception is simply a microcosm of it, I think I can comment on that using this as an example.

This whole thing has brought out the best and worst in the Black Christian Culture, from what I can see, and the White…and anyone who cares.

I read of one person criticizing West’s political standpoints by saying their blackness and their religion (Christianity) were tied too closely together, and he disrespected that. (By supporting Trump, I suppose.)

All political opinions aside…what…?

In the New Testament, Paul declares that there is no race, no gender, no slave nor free, in Christ. ( Galatians 3:28)

That passage does not mean that race, gender, and freedom do not matter at all, it means that when it comes to God, there is no favoritism. Whatever you are, you inherit the same thing in Christ. all of us pray, all of us receive help from God, all of us are called to the same mission, that supersedes all the other differences.

Of course, if someone discriminates based on race, gender, or freedom, then do something about it, Christianity is the best basis for equal rights. Anyone is able to be a Christian, and Christians do not focus just on the free and respected people.

Ours is a religion of going to remote tribes, prisons, jails, ghettos, gangs, slaves, junkies, hospitals, mental institutions, new civilizations, old civilizations, anywhere and everywhere we go.

Christians stand before kings and culprits alike, and do not care. It’s historical as well as doctrinal.

For this very reason, if someone is tying religion to their race, history, or gender, I already have to wonder about what they believe. Certainly, it’s not the Bible.

Now, there are plenty of religions that allow for the superiority of one race…but Christianity is not one of them.

Though it has been used that way but that was when it was mixed with other ideas and what was actually in the Bible was ignored.

Look, I’m not trying to insult anyone, but is Jesus only the savior of black people? Or is He the Savior of white, Latino, Asian, and every other race under the sun. Heck, if a race of people lived underground their whole lives, He’d be their Savior too.

When white people regrettably brought slaves to my country, it wasn’t right (though, it also wasn’t just the white people, the Africans sold each other too.)

But oddly enough, even as cruel as we were, we shared the most important thing of all with the slaves: Our faith.

Strangely enough, this things that matters most, that is the key to life, is the one thing we weren’t holding back from them.

It’s not really a thing to brag about, because strangely, this is a common theme in history. People can be cruel to each other, but, somehow, a lot of the more organized empires have always stressed sharing religion as the most important thing.

To share truth, and God, is rather strange, because God may take pity on the people you’ve conquered, and decide to help them…so why tell them who to ask?

Yet, it’s all over. From Rome to Babylon. I won’t say the religions were always good ones, but the fact that humans are so adamant about sharing what they think is the real God with each other it really rather a strange phenomenon, we’re so selfish about most things.

Religion was used against black people, but it ultimately was the main reason they were freed and makes the best case for Civil Rights. Also, many slave holders, contrary to what you might hear, treated their slaves better when they believed the most in the Bible. Because it says to treat slaves well, not all masters were terrible people.

I also find is rather ironic to say that your blackness is tied to your religion, and its history, when the Bible doesn’t actually condemn slavery…

Nor does it say it’s exactly right. But that’s another story.

Now, I’m not just picking on black people here, this happens all over the place. This incident highlights one place is all. Identity-based religion and politics always ends up compromising some of the religion or politics itself, just for the sake of affirming one’s identity.

Gratitude:

I want to be thankful to the many people who refuse to be stereotyped or to use their race or gender as leverage.

I’d personally give Kanye West credit for at least not being intimidated about it, if nothing else.

I”m grateful for the readers who don’t give me hate comments for stating these opinions, I’m aware I would be ripped to shreds on many other blogs just for daring to say that black people can mishandle these issues at all.

Also, I spent 6 years of my life going to an almost all-black church, the pastor like to say there was no such thing as a black or white church.

I can say the style is different, and often the doctrine is different too. I didn’t like it overmuch but it’s not like I never have issues with white churches either.

Really, I think it has more to do with the faith of the people and not what color they are. There are black people at my mostly white and Hispanic church, so clearly, it’s not a race-based difference.

I could spend a whole post comparing the pros and cons of each, but does it really matter?

Anyway, I guess my main point was, if we’re going to criticize people, it needs to be for a real reason. And more importantly, Christians should never ever act like they own their religion, like they have the only right way of expressing it, and like they have more of a right to God because of their history.

In the history of human suffering every race has its share of hard periods, but I think the Jews have the worst of it overall. They don’t even get to be left alone in their own country. (And I am part Jewish.)

I do not say this to minimize anything, but to give the proper respect to all people. We all have it bad, we all have it good. We all suffer, yet God takes care of all of us.

And God himself suffers.

So, today, I’m just grateful to worship a God who won’t turn away anyone who seeks Him for help.

Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving, –Natasha.

Those who make them are like them.

I have another post about abuse today.

It won’t be especially sad though. Today I have more of a thought “Why does abuse happen?”

There are many, many reasons, I couldn’t possibly address them all.

But for a christian family like mine, I believe there is one reason that can be common. It’s not the only reason, but it’s an important one to understand if there’s ever going to be  road to healing.

That reason is Idolatry.

Idolatry is a fancy sounding word for one of the most common sins to man, that of worshiping something other than the One True God.

Even if you are not a Christian, it’s probably no strength for you to agree that there are things worth devoting your life to, and that many people do not devote their lives to the right thing, so if the religious term throws your off, just think of it like that.

Idolatry is just easier to use for me, since it’s one word, but in Church we usually call it False Images, False gods, or just Idols themselves.

In my family the False Image was My Family itself.

My dad has long been obsessed with being a better person, but his version of better was rather vague and unrealistic. It usually involved ridding himself of his faults as a parent and husband.

But his biggest faults in that regard was simply focusing on the flaws. He didn’t prioritize us ourselves, but this idea of what our family should look like.

Our family should have its own ministry (one he approved of)

Our family should make music

Our family should be more hospitable

Our family should all go tot he same church.

Our family should be a witness to the extended family.

He never took into consideration that maybe it was not his job to decide how we should serve God.

I am aware of  the Bible’s teaching about a whole household serving God. However, it never says everyone in the house should do the exact same thing. In the New Testament the control of family is a little lesser, since may early Christians did not have their whole family’s support.

It didn’t stop with Church stuff anyway. That was just what annoyed me the most.

Maybe you’ve had the same experience with your relatives.

My dad would also say repeatedly that our family was the most important thing to him and he got his happiness from us.

Which bugged me, I thought “We get our happiness form God, not each other.”

Not to misunderstand me, people can greatly increase our happiness, but it does not spring from them. If it does it’s fleeting, people die, they move, they move on, they ditch us, not all of them, but human based happiness is just not permanent.

It sounds like a Christian Cliche to say We Get our Happiness from God.

Oh, we’re so spiritual, right?

I know, but it really is true. It can be misused sure, to hide real problems, but so can most things.

It’s not that God makes me feel happy all the time, it’s that when Id o feel happy, it’s in God. I know it is from Him, and it is a gift.

By the way, there’s been a teaching in the Church that says the Bible never says “God wants you Happy”

Let me set you free if you’ve heard this: That is bull-crap.

No, you won’t find the exact words “God wants you happy” in scripture, the Bible prefers the words “Joy” “Rejoicing” “Praising” “Thankful” “Peaceful” “Exalted” and “Satisfying the desires of your heart.”

All that is stronger than happiness as a chemically induced fleeting feeling, though that too, because God also wants you healthy, and a healthy person will produce that physical feeling of happiness too.

I digress.

My dad used our family as a false god. Like all idols, it had to be removed from him for him to turn back to the real God.

And we had also to give up serving my dad’s happiness, instead of serving God’s. We wanted our dad to be happy, sure, but we could not keep trying to fill the void of God in his heart.

And we could not let him punish us with emotional abuse for inevitably failing to do the impossible.

It struck me what the Bible is talking about when it warns about idols.

You are what you adore, what you trust in, you become.

If you trust in a lie, you become a liar, and eventually, if you fall in with C. S. Lewis’s point of view in The Great Divorce, you become a lie itself.

If you trust in money, you become a miser.

If you trust in drugs, you become an addict.

All these states of being are merging you with the thing you worship. In the case of drugs it literally will get worked into you bloodstream, your DNA, and your brain engineering, and passed on to your kids.

“Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of men’s hands.
 They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Eyes they have, but they do not see;
They have ears, but they do not hear;
Noses they have, but they do not smell;
 They have hands, but they do not handle;
Feet they have, but they do not walk;
Nor do they mutter through their throat.
 Those who make them are like them;
So is everyone who trusts in them.” Psalms 115:4-6

“They have mouths but they do not speak; eyes they have but they do not see; they have ears but they do not hear; nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them.” Psalms 135:16-18

That’s why we are all sinners, by the way. Adam became a sinner, and in a way, he became sin, and so we carry that in our DNA now. We are born in sin, as the Word puts it.

Jesus became sin for us, the Word also says, in order to finally get Sin out of us. He killed sin by becoming it, and then dying.

The Bible also teaches that the Spirit of God is able to divide soul and spirit, and that is how we are saved from sin. God can separate the sinner form the sin.

We ourselves cannot do that, except by loving the sinner. We cannot transform them. But loving people will help them choose to be transformed.

In summary, I think almost all abuse happens due to idols

Many abusers are addicts, after all. All of them put power above God, certainly. Abuse is all about feeling powerful.

It’s important to keep in mind that focusing too much on being abused also can be a form of idolatry. God wants us to be healthy, and if we focus on him, we’ll start to heal. If we are letting Him help us.

But don’t wear your sorrow like a badge of honor, Paul boasted of his weakness because God was glorified in it, not because weakness all on its own is a glory.

One last thought

All of us are meant to be at rest, and to rejoice. Abusers and abused alike. However you handle your past, whatever you went through, even if you were the abuser in some ways, don’t think it mean you cannot ever be happy,

Happiness is not what we deserve, desert does not come into it at all. It’s the natural state of things. You can’t earn it because you were created for it, it’s just like putting a key into a lock. No question of deserving it, it would be stupid to ask that.

So, it’s okay to move on. Really.

And that’s all I got for you today. Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Pure, Abundant, and Long Suffering Love–More we can learn from Gray and Juvia.

The other day I wrote a post about one of my favorite ships and I touched on some subjects I thought it would be nice to expand on.

Here’s an excerpt from the post Stand By You that contains what I wanted to talk about more:

“But Juvia acts out of her strong love for Gray and manages to convey a lot without knowing she’s doing it. She fights for him, and is always there whenever he does choose to open up. Sometimes it’s simply that she does the right thing by accident that seems to mean the most to Gray, because she wasn’t trying to make him see a point, she just honestly wanted to help.

There’s a time to teach someone, but there is a time to just be there, and love them however you can.

And I like the additional message that love is messy and we aren’t smooth about it all the time, but our honest efforts rings the most true to people.

It’s beautiful. And its not something you have to be an expert on relationships to do, that’s the great part, you can start off knowing nothing, and still be able to do this.”

What I mentioned here was that Juvia and Gray are not really experts at love.

That gives me hope at least, because I am far from an expert at love.

I write about it a lot, I talk about it, I can give theories and examples, but at the end of the day, love is what you practice, not what you preach.

I’d like to talk about a couple different aspects of love this ship made me think of, and that I’ve also noticed in my own life.

First, Love is Pure.

Love has to be pure, first and foremost, or it will be hollow.

In my own life, I have a parent who is great about saying he loves me, giving me all kinds of praise, and verbal affirmation.

And he would berate me for not being satisfied with that.

Red flag, by the way, to anyone who does this with someone they know. If you are criticizing someone for not receiving your praise…that’s part of the reason they don’t receive your praise. It’s a bit of an oxymoronic thing to do.

The reason I didn’t like my father’s praise was that there was nothing behind it. He might call me good things, but he didn’t know any of the good things I really was. He didn’t often ask me about my life, and when he did, if I told him, he’d make the conversation about something he wanted to talk about.

He didn’t know what I liked, or what I hated. He didn’t know who my friends were, for the most part.

And, he wouldn’t do anything to back up those words.

My father’s love was not pure because it was not honest, it was based on an idea of himself and me that wasn’t accurate. And if I did not line up, I would be punished with coldness or criticism.

I find this is too common in human beings. We tend to want things on our terms when we give love. We’ll go so far, and no further. If it’s not received well, we pull back.

Juvia, on the other hand, is never daunted by how well she is received. To the point where you might almost call her inconsiderate. But not really. If you look more closely you’ll notice Juvia does not ever put more on Gray than Gray can handle, even if it makes him feel a little awkward, he’s not mortified. If he shows it bothers him, she’ll pull back a bit (in most cases, as I mentioned, the show uses it for humor.)

Second, Love is Abundant

Juvia pours her whole self into loving in the wonky way she does. It’s not always graceful or subtle, it’s extravagant, open, and overwhelming.

But, deep down, doesn’t every person want to be loved that way?

The truth is, if you don’t like being loved like that, it’s certain you have issues.

I don’t say that to judge, since it’s one of my own problems to not receive love as well as I wish.

We were made for extravagant love. In fact, as the Bible describes it, there is no such thing as love that is not like an ocean, an all consuming passion. The Bible doesn’t call a fleeting fancy love.

Love may not be a feeling always, but even the action of love is a full on commitment. Whether you feel the warm, fuzzy stuff, you are supposed to pour yourself out however you can.

Paul wrote of his ministry “I am being poured out like a drink offering.” (2 Timothy 4:6)

David also said “I am poured out like water” in Psalm 22:14, which is a prophecy of how Jesus would pour himself out on the cross, the highest act of love.

Fitting that Juvia’s power is literally being water.

It is daring to love in this manner.

People are broken, many more so than Gray, and they rarely know how to accept love, let alone how to return it.

And that leads to the third thing: Love is long-suffering.

Juvia waits a very long time to get what she wants, at least when you’re in love, it feels like a long time, doesn’t it? And yet, it also doesn’t.

In Genesis, one of my favorite Bible love stories is how Jacob worked 14 years for his wife Rachael, and the writer tells us that his love for her made it seem like a short time.

How valued must Rachael have felt, right?

Wrong, actually. Rachael had insecurities she took out on Jacob even after such devotion. She wasn’t satisfied with human love.

It’s just a part of life, that the people we love cannot be happy solely on our love, even if it makes them happier.

Jacob continued to love Rachael till the day she died, and treasured the sons he had with her more than his other children. In the end, he told her to take her problem to God, not him.

A wise thing to say.

Sometimes the best thing we can do for our loved ones is to stand by them and let them go to God. Something my family has implemented with my dad lately.

Juvia also does this for Gray. She wishes to be able to help him at all times, but sometimes she has to trust him and do her part in other places.

If you’ve noticed I’ve used only Juvia for an example here, well, she’s my favorite.

But Gray does bring something worth mentioning to the table also:

Gray, like many men, and many women, does not really understand Juvia all that well at first and makes plenty of errors on that account. He also does not know how to respond to her love, and often tries to push it away.

But the thing Gray does right, that is beautiful in its humility, is stick around for it.

Instead of avoiding Juvia, Gray spends time around her and gradually learns to be more receptive. He is uncomfortable without being dismissive entirely.

And the thing is, as flawed humans, if we’re totally honest with ourselves, sometimes our most loving act is simply to hold still and let ourselves be loved.

Most especially with God, but I’ve hurt people by pulling away from their embraces, and I know I’ve been hurt by people rejecting my efforts at loving them.

I know that sometimes I really do have to force myself not to run, sometimes all I can do is sit there and just not run. I may not even be able to ask for what I need, but I can stay, and give someone the chance to help me.

Gray screws up a lot, and he feels ashamed… but in the end, he lets himself be comforted and adored. He probably can’t express how grateful he is, but he accepts it as much as he can.

A little tip to guys, if you have a decent girlfriend or wife, than the most kind thing you can do for her sometimes is just let her take care of you. It’s like magic in a woman, we feel better when we do that. Even if you don’t feel like you need it, let her do it.

I’m guessing some men feel the same way. (Obviously I don’t mean being condescended to, I think most people can tell the difference on their own.)

There is so much more to say, but I don’t want to make this too long.

I think I covered the central part anyway.

Something I apply to myself, I want to keep on loving even if I’m not requited. Even if the kind of love I feel has to change with the situation, the point is never to stop loving.

I may talk about that more another time, but for now, stay honest–Natasha.

Anime Bondage: Naruto, (final part)

Hello readers, I’m back with the final part of my Naruto Bondage (though not the last part of this series, I’ll be moving on to other animes after this.)

You all seem to like this series so far, thanks for the support.

This time I want to talk about MC himself.

Again, I have not finished the show yet. So I won’t discuss how I feel about it. I’m using these characters for examples, not reviews, I just don’t want any fans to think I’m criticizing or praising the show itself for anything except a portrayal of the issues.

With that out of the way, let’s begin.

I was gong to just talk about Naruto’s fox spirit problem, but with Shippuden, I’ve come to realize in technicolor that his issues are two-sided.

In Naruto, the OG show, the Fox Spirit inside Naruto was treated like an eccentric old bachelor living alone in his weird mansion, Naruto could sass it and it complied, briefly, it almost seemed like it might get fond of him.

While it was less freaky than Gaara’s problem, I did think it was problematic to portray having a demon inside you as a chill thing. I love MHA, but Tokoyami’s quirk really can’t be taken too seriously without very disturbing implications.

I have been greatly satisfied to find it was treated as an actual problem in the follow-up show, and very accurately.

Naruto begins to struggle with the Fox spirit tempting him to use it more, it’s getting stronger every time. Hurting his body now, where it didn’t used to, and now controlling him, whereas he used to retain his own mind when he used it.

The fox goes form being mildly annoyed when Naruto uses it, to tempting him too. It seems like a bit of a shift, but it’s reasonable to think the Fox realized it would have more freedom if Naruto began to lose himself to it, and so began to actually wish him to rely on him.

I want to note that this show portrays beautifully a very overlooked truth: You are what you rely on.

The Bible says “Do not be deceived: God is not to be mocked. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return. The one who sows to please his flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; but the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”  (Galatians 6:7-8)

If you sow to the flesh, you are entrusting yourself to it, and you reap destruction. If you sow to God, you reap life.

The fox spirit tempts Naruto based on his flesh, his weakness is feeling he is never enough. He fails to save the people he most wants to save.

Yamato (I do not remember his real name) tells Naruto that he needs to save Sasuke with his own power. That he can do this and does not need the Fox.

Naruto, horrified at how he’s hurt people he loves by using the Fox, agrees, and from thereon begins to resist the Foxes’ efforts to take over. He does not always succeed without help, but he begins digging himself out of the hole.

It was shown with Gaara that he also did this, he began to choose not to tap into the power.

The show interestingly made the statement that free will is involved with the corruption of the Jinchuri (the people with demons in them.)

Naruto also is shown to be in contrast to Sasuke here, in that Sasuke was also cursed, but chose to rely on that curse and corrupt.

In real life, with demonic activity, the question of free will is tricky. Demon possession is horrifying mostly because it undermines a person’s free will.

Usually, at one point, the person opened a doorway, as we call it, and allowed it to come in. In that moment they sacrificed their free will. hey had a choice, you can choose to lose free will like you can lose a driver’s license, by making poor driving choices.

However, like I said in my Gaara post, someone can have a curse put on them by someone else, and it not be their fault that they suffer from the problem.

The Bible says a curse without a cause falls void (Proverbs 26:2). And as a popular christian children’s book, Punchinello, put it “The stickers only stick if you let them.”

It is sadly true that human beings could not be cursed if we had no sin. Sin breeds death and allows curses to have power over us. Most people activate curses by sinning. If we were all pure, it wouldn’t matter.

Gaara, Naruto, and Sasuke all deal with this in their own ways. Gaara was never given a fair chance to control himself, but he chose to make it worse by playing along. When he chooses to stop, his curse becomes weaker, and eventually, he gets freed from it entirely and gets a new life. (Literally, it was awesome.)

Naruto has a harder path because it does not seem likely he will lose his curse any time soon. He’s trying to manage it the way people mange mental illness…with about as much success. Good days, bad days, trying to live his life despite having that hang over his head.

But unfortunately, he has other issues the curse only makes harder.

Naruto’s emotional scarring about Sasuke becomes more and more of a problem with each time he fails to get Sasuke back. He blames himself each time for not being powerful enough.

To the point where he pushes himself beyond healthy limits in order to get stronger. He is obsessed and driven, to where he will not rest, and finally ends up hurting his own body in the process.

The absolute insanity of it is that his friends and teachers allow this, they even encourage it, shrugging off the consequences because “Naruto can handle it, he’s got stamina.”

At no point so far has he been told it’s a bad idea to desultory himself on Sasuke’s account.

I do not know if he is later, but I find that it has gone on so long already to be disgusting to my sense of wisdom.

The same thing happened with Sasuke. Kakashi waited until Sasuke was already ready to kill Naruto to tell him revenge might not be the best plan ever… long after Sasuke was past the point where that might have helped.

And it’s horrible for Naruto himself.

Naruto lives in guilt and shame over never being enough. It actually ties into his complex still left over from being an outcast. Nothing he ever did was good enough for Leaf Village to accept him. He was isolated just for being cursed.

Now he brings that into how he views Sasuke. He projects his own feelings onto Sasuke, and thinks it’s not right if he can be free but not free his friend.

It’s noble to want to help your friend, but if you are willing to destroy your own life over it…you have a problem.

Naruto however, is hardly an unrealistic example here. There are many people who sacrifice themselves for others in a way they shouldn’t. In my own family, it was what contributed to years of an abusive cycle.

That may be why I feel so strongly about Naruto’s case. I have lived to please and help someone who would neither be pleased nor helped, and I have damaged myself a lot in the process. I’ve seen my family damaged themselves even more than me.

Thank God we are beginning to heal, but it took so long.

I blamed myself too for not being better at loving, I had to realize that if someone will not receive love, it doesn’t matter how good you are at it. God himself cannot help someone till they receive it from Him (directly, of course He is always helping us in other ways.)

So, I know all about Naruto’s problem. And I know it’s common.

I will put this kind of bondage down to two things, neglect and abuse.

Naruto was abused by having a demon sealed in him. You could liken it to how all of us are programmed with bad behavior by our parents, at least if we have parents with issues.

Naruto was then neglected for most of his life, ad still is because people thing he is stronger than he really is. His strength is often brittle, and superficial. While his true strength is not nurtured by the people around him.

This combination would give anyone unworthiness issues. Naruto simply puts himself on the back burner.

I do the exact same thing. I shelve my needs in favor of my family’s.

I am so glad that I have God, because I do still take my needs to Him, even when I don’t to others. And if you take your needs to God, you will still get healed, even if God and people combined is faster.

But people alone is an imperfect solution, and for Naruto it’s not even a viable one most of the time. There’s a couple people in his life who would help hi,m, but he pays the least attention to them.

It’s not his fault, for it all comes of what he is used to. You tend to go with what  feels normal to you. If being treated meanly or neglected is normal, you’ll hang around people who treat you that way.

I know I have. To me, that was just how people treat me.

If you are blessed enough to meet someone who treats you better, and you like theme enough to let yourself get sued to it, you are one of the lucky  ones.

Often it has to be a choice to start seeking out better relationships.

What I would say in Naruto’s case, is that the best thing for him is to finally admit he is valuable enough for what’s been done to him to be worth getting angry over. He needs to cry about it. For himself, not for his friends.

He needs to start saying he deserved better.

And he needs someone to come alongside him and help him to stand by that.

For me, that’s God. I don’t think anyone else is as good, but even human beings can bring immense healing to each other.

The last thing, is that, Naruto (and us by extension) needs to let go. He can’t save everyone. He does not need to save everyone. We human beings are not the savior of the world. That position is filled already.

It is in God’s hands whether people are saved or not. And it also is on each individual themselves.

And it is not his fault. It is not your fault if someone in your life refuses help. Whether it’s your sibling, your child, your parent, your friends, your spouse, they have to want it.

You cannot make them want it. You cannot do that for them.

That’s a good thing.

And once you accept that you are merely human, you can begin to heal.

That is all for this post, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

 

Stand by You: Gray x Juvia Tribute

I want to take a detour from talking about anime bondage (another part is coming soon, it’ll be interesting) to talk about one of my frequented subjects on this blog.

Well, you all know how much I love talking about love, and using fictional couples to illustrate it.

Today I want to highlight one that is certainly not an unknown one, if you’re knee deep in the anime world, you’ve probably seen ads for or watched Fairy Tail, I’ve mentioned it once or twice..

The show has plenty of cute ones that’ll fill up your romance tank if you’re a ship junkie, but there’s one in particular that for me went from cute to amazingly good, up there with the List of Great Ones I keep mentally.

And that is the Gray +Juvia ship.

Spoilers ahead if you care:

It’s a canon ship that has come to completion, so I’m not going to be speculating, there’s nothing to speculate about. I just want to talk about how well it was written.

So, Fairy Tail is a bit of a zanier show that occasionally has very serious moments that it brings home with a bang!

Gray and Juvia’s relationship could represent the best and worst of this show as a whole. It’s played off for humor 70% of the time, and is sometimes funny, often it’s a little uncomfortable.

The other 30% of the time it’s incredibly profound in its own simple way, which I will now elaborate on, enough build up.

Gray and Juvia meet on the battlefield, on opposing sides. Juvia falls in love on the spot. Gray doesn’t exactly get it, but he does feel some kind of connection. He wouldn’t call it romantic, but he later admits he sensed they could work well together with their abilities.

He also saves her life and is otherwise a gem in the course of their fight. Juvia falls head over heels by the end and later switches sides.

Juvia is by far the crazier of the two–outwardly. She initially stalks Gray, though she doesn’t do much besides watch him and send him gifts, finally she works up the nerve to approach and ask if she can join the guild he works in (Fairy Tail, naturally.)

Gray is down for that, though he doubts their master will be so willing, however, Juvia ends up helping them out with their current crisis, and gets in no problem.

From thereon out she begins the pattern of pursuing Gray, who seems consistently uncomfortable with her affections, but never acts like he dislikes her personally.

At first, we get the feeling Gray thinks she’s crazy but good hearted, and doesn’t want to hurt her feelings, so he puts up with it.

But over time, we get hints Gray actually does feels something more for Juvia, but is in deep denial. Unlike your average anime protagonist, he’s not oblivious, he’s simply…unwilling.

My sister and I speculated as to the reason for this, the show itself provides clues, but it was finally at the end of season 2 we got confirmation we were right.

So, what we figured out was this:

Early on, Gray was shown to have deep guilt issues. He’s one of those tragic backstory guys. He’s not as bad as some, (I mean, I’ve been watching Naruto, so talk about messed up origin stories.) He lost his parents to a demon, and later his teacher/mentor to the same demon.

Gray blames himself for going to seek the demon out in order to kill it, and having people always need to sacrifice themselves for him.

This gets reinforced later on when the daughter of his mentor makes a similar sacrifice for him and his friends.

It caps off when he long-dead father is reanimated by another villain, and forced to work for the evil people, but rebels and fights Gray in order to try to die for real and be able to be at peace.

Gray refuses to kill his father, and they have a heartfelt few minutes. But while this is going on, Gray’s father, Silver, speaks telepathically to Juvia, who is elsewhere, fighting the very person who is controlling him.

Silver asks Juvia to kill the Necromancer (that’s the villain) and let him die. Juvia does not want to do this to Gray’s father, but understands that if she doesn’t the world will be in jeopardy, and Gray also will not be in a good position.

Juvia succeeds, and Gray’s father thanks her and gets to go to heaven and be at peace, leaving Gray with a final gift of the power to defeat the demons.

Up till this point, the show had begun to use Juvia a bit more seriously. Early on, she was almost pure comic relief. No one took her feelings too seriously.

Her backstory is pretty sad in its own way, though it lacks the traumatic twist of most anime stories. She was unable to control her water magic very well, and it led to being depressed and isolated from people who couldn’t take how gloomy it was around her.

In a heartbreaking thought humorous shot, Juvia is shown making an army of Japanese Rain-Away dolls, which she always wears one of on her clothes.

Yeah…dark without being gritty, what a novel idea!

When Juvia falls for Gray, she is able to stop the rain for the first time and see blue sky. Light has entered her heart, if you follow the analogy.

In a later arc, Gray is shown to have deep shame in himself, that keeps him from expressing happier emotions or doing light hearted things like dance, or other displays of beauty or joy. It’s a weird episode, but managed to pack in an emotional punch amidst the silliness.

Juvia, in a still later episode, wants to do something nice for Gray to celebrate their anniversary of meeting (sort of) and knits him a scarf.

Unfortunately, this anniversary happens to be the same day his teacher/surrogate mother died.

Here the show got very profound very briefly, Erza, one of the wiser characters, comforts Juvia, after Juvia finds out and feels horrible for trying to be cheerful when Gray was feeling so sad, Erza tells her that she doesn’t need to feel bad. Every day is a good day for some people, a bad day for others, and what matters is what it is for her.

Gray also comes around to realizing it wasn’t Juvia’s fault, and also realizes her gesture reminds him of something his teacher did once. He finds a sort of comfort in it after all.

By the way, Snow is used to represent Gray’s sadness and shame. It’s always snowing when he feels that way. Like the rain for Juvia. (And yeah, it is a lot like Frozen. Writers love this metaphor.)

This culminates (well, for season 2) in a short but awesome scene at the end of the Tartaros Arc, the one she defeats the villain controlling his father in.

Gray is feeling sad again, and shame, because he couldn’t do as much as he wanted, and he couldn’t prevent his father dying. Though he knows his father wanted it that way, it still stings. It’s snowing.

Juvia comes up, feeling pretty bad over it, to confess what she did, and say she doesn’t have the right to love him anymore, because she killed his father( indirectly) who he loved, and she is sorry.

Gray seems angry at first, and is shocked also that is was her who did it.

But suddenly, he starts crying and says “Thank you…you freed me…I’m sorry…” He seems to be apologizing to no one in particular, or maybe to everyone he feels he failed.

This scene was powerful for me, in a simple way.

Juvia and Gray are not perfect, they actually are very human. Both can be shortsighted. Gray can be kind of a jerk, unintentionally. Juvia can be easily distracted by her emotions to the point where she neglects caution, and can be obsessive.

Juvia is also not free of emotional problems. Many anime ships have one messed up person and one stable person, but Juvia and Gray are neither wholly messed up, nor wholly stable in of themselves.

Juvia often feels she is unworthy also to be loved.

The show brilliantly shows us in this moment that Gray is the same way. He acts cold because he doesn’t feel he deserves to be adored. He’s just himself, and he always thinks he is too weak.

Why does he say Juvia freed him?

It’s simple, if Juvia hadn’t defeated the villain, Gray might have had to, and kill his own father. Something that would have haunted him his whole life.

Perhaps he even thought he had, since he didn’t see the fight and just saw his father disappear.

Juvia did something for Gray that he wasn’t able to do for himself.

It brings it full circle, in the past when Gray saved Juvia, she felt he had done something for her she could not do for herself. The rain had stopped.

I don’t have a lot of time, so I’ll try to keep this short:

I love this so much. To me, it doesn’t matter whether I like the show or not, if this was the only thing I got out of it, it’d be worth it.

It’s not even about romance. This goes further than that…or, I should say, it’s an aspect of romance not often explored.

But, think about it, in marriage, who wants to be with someone they cannot take their heart to? Who cannot be shown all the ugly parts of their past, and find them still lovable?

I certainly don’t want to marry a man I can’t tell this stuff too, he’s going to see me at my worst, after all, as well as my best. Why not learn why I am the way I am.

Juvia and Gray are a very realistic example, for an anime, of how a couple can help each other. Juvia often finds herself at a loss for words with Gray, she learns more about his past over time, but has nothing to say, it’s so different from her own, and she’s not very good at expressing herself anyway.

But Juvia acts out of her strong love for Gray and manages to convey a lot without knowing she’s doing it. She fights for him, and is always there whenever he does choose to open up. Sometimes it’s simply that she does the right thing by accident that seems to mean the most to Gray, because she wasn’t trying to make him see a point, she just honestly wanted to help.

And that, ladies and gents, is Real Love.

There’s a time to teach someone, but there is a time to just be there, and love them however you can.

And I like the additional message that love is messy and we aren’t smooth about it all the time, but our honest efforts rings the most true to people.

It’s beautiful. And its not something you have to be an expert on relationships to do, that’s the great part, you can start off knowing nothing, and still be able to do this.

Until Next Time–Natasha.

 

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Answer to what someone said.

Taking a break from my anime series in order to write a post that I felt inspired to write after reading something that popped up in my recommendations.

I don’t want to name the blog because I think it would be unfair to criticize them by name when I have not asked them, and I don’t want to be one of those people who ends up bringing down a hate storm on another social media person just because I disagree with them, publicly.

That being said, what grabbed me about this post was how strangely vague it was. It’s really a perfect example of a modern 20-30 year old’s viewpoint, as is commonly expressed in media. And, I meet college students who talk like this.

The post was discussing someone’s search for meaning, and going through school, not really taking philosophy, then studying mythology and wondering why the gods punished people for stuff they were fated to do, and how he went on to become a Marxist, and later a Romantic, that is, someone who denies that God, love, justice, beauty, are real.

He denies being a cynic, saying he appreciates them more because they are not real. And thinks that Jesus, when he was dying and felt forsaken by God, is a remarkable idea.

In the end, he almost laughs at himself for wanting to be real, when he’s made of wood. That he cannot dream himself into being human.

The last sentence of the post  declares himself Alone, and Meaningless in a dark, empty world.

(Any more and I’ll be directly quoting him.)

In all fairness, I can’t repeat it word for word, so you’re taking my summary of it as accurate, but the blogger himself admitted to basically finding meaning in nothing.

He reflects at one point about a Christian girl who once told him that God has put it into everyone’s hearts to want to know him.

He laughed it off then, but admits that it’s basically what he’s describing, but, he knows God is a lie.

After I finished reading this, I had one question: How does he know God is a lie?

This guy pretty clearly suffers from depression, I believe it’s even in other posts on his blog, so his thoughts may have a morbid tenancy anyway.

But I couldn’t help noticing that at no point in his story did he ever say he sought God personally. He asked other people about Him, and pondered the idea of God, as well as other values most people agree are real, and he found them unbelievable, for whatever reason.

But there is no record of Him approaching God face to face and seeking revelation.

Ironically, many times when nonchristians tell me they’ve sought truth, or sought God, it ends up meaning they sought ideas about Him. Perhaps they went to church briefly, they talked to a christian…and failing to be impressed by it, they left.

Well, Christians can be bad at representing our faith, however, part of the problem with nonbelievers is that they expect something of us that we are not able to give them.

God, frankly, never makes sense to anyone who has not tried to meet Him personally.

Not because God can not be explained in a way that makes sense, but because the explanation is not enough to make you know what He is like.

I can give you the best description of my friend, till you almost feel like you know them already…and until you hear them talk, see their face, or even see their handwriting, you will still lack a true impression of their character.

The God of the Bible, distinctly unlike gods of most religions, is not high up in the clouds, or deep down in the heart of the earth, He’s not in the sun, or the planets, or the wind.

God is not in one place, He is in everyplace, one can meet him in a closet, at a beach, on a mountain top, in a bar, in an alleyway, a brothel, a prison, a church, a battlefield…anywhere at all.

It is no use to say you have sought the truth about God, and found nothing in it, unless you have spoken to God directly. From the heart.

Someone might say “If you do not believe in God, then you cannot speak to Him from the Heart.”

If you yearn for meaning, if you feel dissatisfied with how empty life is, then, you can speak to God.

If you can speak to the void, to people who will never meet you, you can speak to God.

This is the one thing no one ever wants to do. In the Bible, in Exodus, when Moses approached God on the mountain of Sinai, the people begged him to talk to God for them, they said if they tried to, they would die.

Moses, in contrast, begged God to let him see His glory.

Was it really so impossible for the people?I wonder.

There is no record in the Bible of anyone ever praying to God sincerely, one on one, and not getting some kind of answer, even it it took awhile.

What there is a record of is God lamenting constantly that people do not seek him. He promises if He is sought, He will be found, if we seek with all our heart.

I will say, God is not found by anyone who is looking for him like one might look for a free show.

People who search for God flippantly, with the attitude that if He is not exactly what they want, they will bail, are unlikely to find anything.

I do not know this blogger well enough to say for certain why He has not found God, he seemed quite close, in some ways.

But, if I went just by what he said, as an idea, then my answer would be this: He did not find God because He did not seek him one on one.

It’s the simplest thing in the world to pray, yet, people are scared to death of it. It feels like such a commitment.

It’s funny too, since, no one else will ever know if you pray alone in your room, even in your head, but it still feels huge.

I may make someone angry by claiming that atheists are just too afraid to seek God, and I do understand that some of them have other reasons besides this…

…but, by and large, the people who hold the belief that all of life is meaningless are cowards. They believe that because they are afraid to believe it has meaning, because the meaning might be something they cannot handle. And if God could direct the meaning for them, they fear He will direct it a way they don’t like.

The meaning I even give to these people themselves is because I believe life has meaning, they ask that I listen to them, that I care, but deny the reason why I should. The honest ones admit that, but fail to see how the fact that they even care would in itself prove life has meaning.

You can’t want something that does not exist, you have a hunger because there is a food for it. You thirst because water exists. You feel pain because nerve endings are real.

You can’t ache inside without there being a balm for it.

This has run long, so I am going to end this post with this:

I don’t think this blogger will read my answer, and, I am not sure it would help him if he did, unless he could face his fears and look at God for himself.

But to me, it’s so beautifully simple. When I struggled with those feelings myself, the solution came when I spoke to God directly and surrendered to him.

That has no meaning to someone who despises that approach, thinks it’s too simple…Well, to that, all I will say for now is I don’t see much happiness in thinking the other way.

Until next time–Natasha.