Fruits Basket: So far

Sorry, it’s been a while, I tried to write, didn’t end up finishing anything.

But today the final episode of Fruits Basket season 2 aired for non premium users, so I assume I can now talk about this show with no fear of spoiling it for anyone who was invested enough to care, and for anyone who’s not into anime, but reads my posts anyway out of curiousity, welcome.

I won’t bother with a full review of all the good and bad elements of the show, writing, and art. I do really like the art style, and I will commend it for how well they do facial expressions, particularity the eyes, since it contributes to how one reads the show, but other than that I don’t want to get into all those logistics.

We’re all here for the in depth hot take right?

Well, I probably couldn’t’ make any observations about the depth that hundreds of other people haven’t made and microscoped far more than I have time or energy to do, plus I think the show speaks for itself character wise, and doesn’t need a lot of dissecting.

But I want to talk about the themes of the show, that’s what makes it most interesting for me, though I do love the MC Kyo (best boi), Momiji, Haru, and the two best friends of Tohru, (the main main character,) Arisa and Hana

So if you don’t know, here’s my short synoposis of the important stuff:

Tohru Honda is an orphan, homeless girl who lives in the woods because she’s got a complex about being a burden to people and her granddad wasn’t ready to take her in yet, she gets found by one of he classmates, Yuki Sohma, and his cousin (sort of) Shigure, turns out she’s on their property. After her tent gets buried in a landslide, they insist she stays with them until her granddad can take her in.

Just as you think you see what kind of anime this is going to be, andother family member, Kyo, crashes in the window, and accidentally Torhu bumps into his chest, he turns into an orange cat, then the other two try to help and turn into a rat and a dog.

First Impressions - Fruits Basket (2019) - Lost in Anime

Turns out the Sohma family is cursed, 12 members of their family are possesses by the spirits of the Zodiac, 13, as it turns out later there is also a god character.

Tohru is surprisingly okay with this, like any true Disney Princess type would be, and agrees to keep the secret. A lot of hi-jinks ensue, she meets all the other zodiac members, including the psychotic Akito, and the… strange but lovable Ayame, Haru, Rin, Kisa, and all the others I can’t remember the names of, plus Kagura who is kind of likable at times and not at other times.

With time we learn more about the backstories of all the Sohmas, most o them are tragic, a few had happier lives but were burdened with knowing how bad it was for the tohers, and knowing that evenutally Akito would want all of them to come live with her. This same Akito who tries to flat out murder one of them, and beats up and mentally and verbally abuses the others.

Akito is strangely isolated, depsite supposedly being in charge. I hated her at first, and then I started to pity her over time. At this point, the only thing I really couldn’t get past was the attmepted murder, it feels too unreal…or too real, not sure.

I didn’t know when I started the show that it was written to be an in depth metaphor for abuse and family sins, I saw an ad for it, but no one I knew had watched it so I went in pretty blind.

Something that still boggles my mind about it is that the week my sisters and I watched it, was the week my dad was gone ballistic and we were trying to come up with a plan to get him out of the house, and then he did move out. Needless to say, Fruits Basket could be triggering for me, for both of us, but it was also a bit cathartic to see it enacted out and see other characters mirror our own feelings.

And yeah, I’ll get this out of the way now. Yes, Akito does remind me of my dad. The temper tantrums, the mood swings, the long speeches telling people how much they suck, the manipulation, the promise of love that everyone, even the recipient knows is bullcrap.

I don’t know that I really see myself in the other characters too much, because the striking difference is that most of them don’t talk about it being “wrong” for Akito to act the way she does. They are still in the cycle where you just can’t question it, it’s just normal, but they imply it. Most of them are more apt to blame their parents or themselves for being monsters.

Akito uses the word “monster” a lot too. It’s notable because that’s what victims of abuse often feel like they are made into, a monster. I felt that way. My father felt that way. Turns out when you are not loved properly, or worse, when out of love you are told that these terrible things are true about you.

But the way the Sohma family curse is handled is perhaps the most spectacular aspect of the show and manga.

My expectations kept getting subverted, in a good way, watching. AS a Christian, I know a lot about curse, especially family ones, what most people call inherited traits, if they have a name for it, addictions being the most easily recognizable one medically speaking (that’s self inflicted) I don’t know that the name really matters much, but I find Curse the most appropriate term.

Like FB states, the curse is a bond. Shown by the woven cords anime likes to use to symbolize an eternal connection. A bond that Yuki (I think) tells Tohru was initially meant to be a good thing, but somehow overtime it became a loss of freedom and choice for the cursed members, and became toxic for the whole family. We later find out that when the animals meet Akito, they cry and feel both an attraction and a revulsion, “beloved” “Hated” they think, “Come closer” “get away.” Etc…

Very much true to real life, with abuse. There’s a sickening sort of attraction. I still sometimes feel it thinking of my dad. I got to where I loathed the sight, sound, smell, feel of him and anything that reminded me of him, but I would still be drawn to be around him and want his approval. Over time apart my revulsion has died down more, but if I try to picture being around him it often comes back, I am still healing.

Interestingly, I was told I cried whenever my dad held me as a baby, somehow I picked up on the unrest in my house hold, babies can sense stress even in the womb, it’s proven. But I yearned for closeness with him as I got older. Drawn, and repulsed, as long as I can remember it was like that. He was always very rough, he’d hug a little too tight, too long, something I found out was symptom of BPD, who knew?

It was strange, the hug thing, like it was purposefully too tight, like the intention was to cause pain, even while gratifying himself, I know because I used to do it to, on purpose, I’ve become gentler, I wasn’t always that way, I think I picked up the habit from him.

“I still taste you on my lips, lovely bitter water. Terrible fire and fuel to burn is honey on my tongue, and I know I shouldn’t love you, but I do”-The Oh Hellos

The Sohma family bond was forged to keep them from being alone,just like God created family in order so man wouldn’t be alone, but as man corrupted, so did family. We aren’t told why (so far) but clearly the same thing happened to the Sohmas.

It’s a truth that we humans are too messed up to stay bonded generation after generation and not corrupt, it’s why we have to leave our family, we have to explore. Ever wonder why evil empires almost always have a primary family in charge? It’s not that family is evil, it’s that when you inbreed, and try to keep a family the same, not letting the members forge new families like God said “to leave father and mother and cleave” to your husband or wife, then the same sins become out of control.

Staying connected, but not staying so close you can’t breathe, that’s the key.

So, FB is quite accurate. But it goes even further. Characters struggle with love, being able to love freely, or love at all, and we learn more about the curse.

The Curse primarily affects love, there seem to be physical effects also, some member get sick easily, some get abused by their parents just because they are cursed, both in some cases. And of course, animals follow them around…some of them. Let’s hope a tiger doesn’t show up some time around Kisa… though that might solve her bullying problem (also apparently int he Japanese Zodiac a tiger is different from a cat, even though they’re the same type of animal…? I guess they both get picked on a lot.)

But all the Cursed members either can’t love properly, or they fall in love and it goes wrong. Usually because of Akito, but it seems to go wrong even without her help too, there’s often something too desperate about it, as you would expect.

Being emotionally unbalanced is a part of the curse too. It also seems to effect only some people, Haru goes dark and destructive, Kagura had moods swings and destroys stuff, the monkey, whatever his name was, is way, way too insecure… I mean sheesh.

In Season 2, Tohru decides she wants to break the curse, but no one knows how. She decides to join forces with Rin, who is also desperate to break the curse, but neither of them have a clue, they are just trying not to despair.

Tohru has of course, fallen for Kyo, the cat, and gotten close to Yuki (rat) in a more platonic way, as well as the other younger members, and Hatori, the doctor/seahorse.

It’s basically Beauty and the Beast with abuse instead of pride as the big shadow over the family.

Then in the final episode today, we find out that one member has already been freed of his curse, but not told anyone till Shigure called him on it. Kureno, the former Rooster.

Kureno is not my favorite, I don’t get him, and I’m puzzled by his role in the story, plus he’s shipped with a 17-18 year old and he’s like 27. Age gaps don’t bug m too much, but the guy is weird and he’s Akito’s sex toy, so I’m not sure how to feel about that. He needs therapy.

But his role in the curse is interesting. He got freed one day of being an animal, but he doesn’t know why or how, he remembers nothing significant about it it would seem, but Akito flipped out and got so hysterical he promised never to leave her anyway… which as Tohru points out, is basically just the curse without the animal side effect, but that’s family soul ties for you.

Kureno feels guilty for being freed while the others are not, so he keeps it to himself. Contributing to the cycle. roving he is not in fact free.

I was puzzled at first, I got this spoiled for me when I looked up info about the show, but I didn’t know exactly when or how it would happen, so I forgot about it. I thought the curse would be broken with love, but Kureno seems not to need love to break it.

But then I thought, maybe this twist is good. I’m not going to be that girl who justifies everything just to keep liking the show, but there is a way this could be better.

Since we’re not clear on what the curse is, we can assume it affects everyone differently, perhaps if just needing to love someone else truly was the answer, it would have been discovered long ago, after all, all the Sohmas have fallen in love, right? Or most of them have.

The only hint from Kureno’s story is that is might be some kind of revelation. Whether that comes form love, or from some other source, who knows.

In real life, though, sometimes the moment when you are freed from your family really is hard to pinpoint. I’ve had times of relief, where a cloud just lifted off my mind, but I know that I built up to it over time with prayer and consideration and better choices. I know people who’ve not had that moment yet. I haven’t had the ultimate one where I realize I’m over the damage.

I understand Kureno’s survivor’s guilt. I get it too. While his life isn’t easy, he feels it could be easier for him to leave, to be free. But the very knowledge keeps him bound up.

It proves the curse is in their minds just as much as their bodies. In a way, his freedom made him more bound than ever. Which, I can attest to, without God, freedom is just another form of bondage because you have no skills to be free, most freed people just end up slaves again in another relationship.

Why the curse is accurate in another way is that death doesn’t stop it, it reincarnates. While I mostly think that’s a stupid idea, it works excellently to show generational sins. Death cannot be he answer for the Sohmas, but life seems not worth living for them, most of them sink into a kind of resignation.

Which is quite dangerous. It’s giving up. It may not make you into a psycho, (though it usually does eventually), but it makes you like a robot.

Kureno was the most resigned of all because he chose to remain chained when he could have been free, recognizing Akito’s hold on him didn’t just have to be the curse, it could be through pity also.

But Akito really hates all the people she loves, she knows she will never have complete security, she fears the breaking of the curse because it would leave her alone, and her mind is the most wrapped up in it. It makes sense, all the others are just bound to her, but she is bond to all of them, making her even more stretched between two worlds, two feelings, two desires. Freedom is something she seemed to give up on a long time ago.

I won’t ever justify abuse, but I do understand it. I understand it because I see the same profane love in myself as in an abuser. I don’t believe there’s a single human who never hast hat temptation. My favorite book is “Till We Have Faces” which is C. S. Lewis fictional exploration of Profane love vs Holy love. Most of us call it Unconditional.

Parents say they love unconditionally, and bless them, some of them really do. I love those parents.

Some, however, mean that it don’t matter how bad you screw up they will love you…as long as you don’t leave them, don’t stop loving them.

True love is love even when there is no love in return, it’s giving whether or not you get anything, but it’s not the desire to not get loved in return, it’s the constant hope that you will be, and even if you aren’t, you recognize love is the Right State of Being, and you will not come out of it for anything so petty as demands.

But a True Lover can receive love better than anyone else also, because they know it’s worth, they will not scorn it, because they know it can’t be bought, they will not worry about deserving it. That’s why to understand True Love is to be emotionally healthy in every way, and none of us are,

But the closer I get to Real Love, the closer I get to being whole. I at least now know what not to want.

FB does not present this kind of love as a whole through the main characters, it presents parts of it. We see it the strongest in Tohru’s mom, her best friends, and in Momiji, (the rabbit and also one of the best people on the show).

That's a Secret | Fruits Basket Wiki | Fandom

People who both give and receive love much more freely than even Tohru. Tohru is loving, but she sucks at receiving it. What’s great about Momiji is he’s so open. He hugs Tohru even if it changes him into a rabbit because what does he care? Hugs are more important than curses, right?

Breaking the curse would be simple enough if it was just the animal things. A Christian could do it in two minutes.

But breaking abuse just isn’t done in minutes, or days, or weeks. As long as the curse is tied tot hat, it will be a process. Even if the beast part goes away, they will have to heal.

I think that is the real point of the show: Healing is a process, and if you don’t give up hope, if you stay open to love and face your demons, you can get there. And those who give up, draw back, and embrace their darkness will become worse than they were before.

I look forward to Season 3, I will probably refer back to this show again when I write more about abuse and recovery and anime, but for now this seems like a good place to stop.

If you watch it, what did you think of the ending? What do you think will happen (no SPOILERS) and who do you relate to the most?

Until next time–Natasha.

An existential crisis and other things.

 I might like Evanescence…who knew?

Well, I got a job at last. Yay!

My performance anxiety is still kicking in over whether I can maintain this one, it’s pretty hard to mess it up, the first day went mostly smoothly, but I lost my last job because I dusted a bookcase wrong, so I realized anew how temperamental people can be. That’s unusually picky, but still…

Especially in childcare, it’s hard.

Oh yeah, so I am working as a Nanny. I prefer that word to babysitter, since technically, the parents are still at home (mostly the case right now) but a lot of people need extra help.

It’s funny to me because I was homeschooled by a stay-at-home Mom, and we rarely got a babysitter. My dad never taught us, and rarely was home with us alone, so My mom didn’t get a break very often, somehow she stayed sane and manged to cook us dinner.

Now, some things got let slide, I can’t say we were very neat kids, and we’d go through phases of fighting a lot. There’s three of us girls.

But even so, it wasn’t bad. We were always well behaved kids, usually, in public. Of course, our parents believed in spanking.

Now, it’s weird for me to go to work for other families, and no one spanks, many people have only one child, and don’t leave their kids alone ever. My mom used to let us play for hours outside or in our room unsupervised, she knew we wouldn’t try to do anything stupid.

Now even if parents are in the house, they want someone to watch their kids while they work. I guess I can understand that, my mom didn’t work, and now she works out of home, not the same thing. Though she did lots of volunteer stuff with us there, and she never found us distracting. Heck, she taught me to help out the adults and she didn’t mind if other people were watching us more than her. I never supposed that was unusual until I got older and found out it’s rare. Rare in my culture anyway, in some parts of the country that might be fairly standard.

I admit in the American West, it’s seen as good parenting to be constantly around your child, involved, attentive to their emotions, etc. In the Midwest or East, it can be more about the child becoming independent and sensible early on, not needing to be carried through life.

There’s something to be said for both, I’ve heard that in cultures where kids are coddled and held more, stress levels are lower later in life; but what comes with that is also a lack of independence from other people, free thinking, or willingness to break from your community even when it’s going the wrong way.

America’s emphasis on independence drove its citizens to become stronger on their own, if the community is less strong than in other countries, we always felt it was wroth it to be free and preserve our Moral Integrity. That’s going away, but it’s not bringing unity. We now have a belief in independence without the reasons independence was ever important.

In the end, the American Dream was originally that if you had to leave your family to follow your beliefs, you could, and the early Pilgrims recognized that Religion has to come over all else, if it’s going to be real. It’s part of Christian Doctrine not to love anything more than God.

I won’t say that’s a less stressful life, but God has never promised us a less stressful life, and stress is not always bad. It can be, but the right kind of pressure makes us into better people, more than anything else can.

I was thinking today how lately it’s hard for me to know what to say when someone asks me “How are you?”

How can I put “I think I’m good, but I don’t really know how I am one day to another, and I’m confused, and I’m up and down, and I’m great, and I’ve never been so strange to myself” into a glib response that someone will accept? 

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I feel like I’m having an existential crisis… and yet I’m not.

It’s funny, I’ve been questioning what does make my life worth it. I guess when you have intrusive thoughts about suicide, and you choose not to follow them, to reject that as being what you are, then the next logical step is to wonder why. What’s driving you? What’s making you different from thousands of people worldwide? What do you have that they don’t? Is it arrogant to think you can conquer a problem so many people fail to beat?

I know I can’t be the only one who feels that way. I remember when I read “Soul Surfer” Bethany Hamilton described wondering why it was her, but not in an angry way, just like she wanted to know the grander purpose of what happened to her. And it was weird to many people that she wasn’t more devastated.

What if your feelings just don’t make any sense?

Even my therapist can’t figure me out every time.

I remember one of the recent episodes of Fruits Basket (I will probably review that show once season 2 ends) had a moment where two characters met each other, and the curse of their family took hold. They felt “Beloved, Hated, Drawn, Repulsed” at the same time.

That’s so accurate to the life of a victim of abuse. Both toward your abuser and to the rest of life, you feel drawn and repelled at the same time. You love them, you hate them. You want more, you want nothing.

Abuse is perhaps the most contradictory kind of brokenness in the human experience, because the nature of it is to be contradictory, to combine love and hate in an unholy way that never should exist.

I love my Dad still, a lot, and don’t want him to suffer, yet I want him to feel the weight of what he did to me, even if it hurts him, and I don’t want to see him, or talk to him. What do you make of those feelings?

I want to live, but I don’t want to live the same way I always have. I do many things, but I don’t know why I’m really doing them anymore, I don’t know if I believe they matter to anyone in the long run. 

“Vanity, vanity, all is vanity” Ecclesiastes says.

I am a student, I am a blogger. I have a YouTube channel. I read, I write on average 10 pages a day by hand, I knit, I watch kids, I go to Church. I dance. I sing.

I have goals and dreams and things I want to do, and I wonder why I want to do them. Won’t the end be I’ll feel the same as I did before? Are they just escapes? Isn’t everyday life the only real experience I will ever have.

One of my favorite things about the Bible is how much it lacks false sentimentality. You won’t read the fairytale , wishful thinking mindset in the Bible. None of this “escape” stuff.

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When the Bible has heights, it claims those as fully real, as normal as the lows. When things are dull, the Bible records them as faithfully as when things are exciting. We have whole books of Laws, Numbers, and History. We have books of Spiritual Revelation. We have a book about sex that beats any porn crap, both pure and passionate. (Did you know the Bible had a book about sex? A lot of people don’t know that.)

The Bible sees everything as important, it treats life as a journey, I picked up that attitude and I’ve always been less discouraged in my life because of that.

I guess right now, I’ve just had doubts about whether the Bible is right. Is my life a journey? Or it is dull. Don’t thousands lives never go anywhere? (At least in our eyes).

You have to really learn that you can’t know everything, if you want to make it through life sane.

I recently reread Ecclesiastes all the way through, I noticed that what that book is about is how the World’s pleasures, and man’s own pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, do not satisfy us. They don’t make us happy. Indeed, the end sum of wisdom is realizing everything is empty. That’s why Eastern religions have their goal as to be removed from the world and other people, they have reached the pinnacle of man’s wisdom.

Yet it’s strange that the Preacher in Ecclesiastes says to still do our work, because it is what God has given us to do, even if there is no point in it, because good things happen to both the good and the wicked person, and so do bad things, and we can take nothing with us.

It wasn’t until Jesus, the only man wiser than Solomon, that we got the answer s to why God would have us still spend time on earthly things. Jesus told us that we could lay up treasure in heaven for ourselves by our faith and works here.

The Bible does not teach that we are saved by works, but that we are rewarded for them. We can be saved even if our works are empty, but it shows our faithfulness to God is they were of value. 

And of course, human beings are not earthly things, strictly speaking, and we need to be concerned about each other.

Still, there are times I feel I am failing even at that, that I’ve hit a dry place in my life where I have nothing to give, and no one would appreciate anything I have to say. Like I’m just using other people for life support, but am myself a vegetable, emotionally or spiritually speaking.

I don’t know how true that is, but I suppose even if it was, everyone has seasons like that.

What I think God wants of me is to decide that even if I see no point in anything I’m doing, I will trust him, because I know He does have a plan. And that’s all I need to know, I don’t need to know what it is.

And even if I am not doing any other thing worth doing, if I Love God, and He Loves Me, then life is still worthwhile. Like the end of “Groundhog Day” when every day is the same, he realizes, the only thing with lasting meaning is Love. Love isn’t bound by time, or repetition, or memory.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is groundhog_day.jpg

Like with Mary of Bethany, it is better to sit at God’s feet and worship, then to be busy doing everything for Him, but nothing with Him.

It’s easy to write that, easy to tell people to do that, it is not easy at all to do it.

It is amazing how it can take the most strength to be still.

Again, all the most true things are the ones we’ve heard so many times and just never understood the meaning of.

Maybe it was good for me to realize all this now. Rather than chase these things for decades of my life only to understand at the very end why they didn’t matter without God’s purpose.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Lost in The Fire.

Well, the Oh Hellos released a new EP, and my Dad’s house burned down, so it’s been interesting since I last posted.

My dad wasn’t in it, thankfully. But he was pretty shook, as we say now.

Right now, it’s the third day of me waking up and seeing a yellow sky out my bedroom window. It’s so weird, like a post-apocalyptic teen movie. I guess there’s a strange beauty in it, and for a wonder, it’s been much cooler. I find it ironic that a fire burning had made it cooler, but one man’s loss is another man’s gain.

Fire does make rain too, so maybe in a few weeks we’ll reap some much needed benefits from this, but for now, no one is seeing it as a good thing.

People always say living on the West Coast is scary because of earthquakes, but the wildfires and arson every year are actually the biggest problem for us, way more than earthquakes.

Strange, my dad’s house was in danger a couple weeks back, but we prayed, and the wind actually changed direction just like we asked. So this time around, I didn’t even think about him being in danger of losing it.

When the ash starts falling down here in the valley, we know the fire is too close for comfort, even if we’re out of reach of it.

Falling Ash – Sam's Online Journal

I can’t explain why my dad’s house got spared once only to burn down two weeks later. Anymore than I can explain why Anne Frank made it to the allies winning the war, but still died in a Nazi prison camp.

In the fan fiction I write, I actually just had a fire happen in the story, literally af ew days before this, and was having the characters deal wtih the aftermath, asking some of the same questions that we’re aasking in real life now.

Why?

And what is the point?

When we get one miracle, sometimes it almost feels like mockery, especially if later we still lose the thing. Why get it longer at all? Why raise false hopes?

The Bible has examples of that too, the Israelites win one battle, lose the next. Get saved from their enemies, and years later, get taken captive. God warns them, but they probably were still confused, since when did they ever listen to the prophets, after all.

It could be that our idea that because we were saved once, we automatically will be saved the next time is actually foolish and not one God tells us to have.

God promises to always protect us, but not that it will look the way we want it to. Not that we will never lose anything.

Indeed, most of the Psalms is the author praying for emotional protection and protection from sinning, as well as physical protection.

There’s pretty much zero chance my dad will read this blog, (or listen to me, after all,) but I wonder if he’s thinking that all this just means he can’t win. He can’t be happy.

To be getting close to peace, and to have it wrenched away. Why does God allow this?

And me, personally, it’s a reminder that I may not be as far out of the woods as I think, in my own life.

Of course, safety is an illusion outside of God’s will. We never really know what will happen. We could walk out the door and get killed, or we could have an accident in our house. The only risk free thing to do it sit real still and never move…and then you die of starvation or lack of exercise.

God just doesn’t mean for us to do nothing dangerous our whole lives. Danger makes it worthwhile.

See, being better off from one minute to the next is something completely in our own heads, unless we measure it by how much we are trusting God. I am no safer this minute than I am on a mountain top in a lightning storm, it is just to me that it seems different.

It’s not wrong to think things are going well in our lives, or going poorly. The Bible certainly never tells us to throw out that standard, how else can we understand God’s goodness? But it cautions us to keep in mind that it is all a gift, not what we are owed.

I believe God does want each of us to be happy, in the right time and right context for happiness. But not a isngle one of us ahs a correct idea of happiness when we first walk with God.

My ideal of happiness as a new Christian was not to have trouble, not to have relationship problems, and to have a good career, husband, children, and be able to do what I loved doing.

To be honest, I still prefer all those things.

But I’ve had a series of rude awakenings that none of that gurantees happiness. To my amazement, I can be sad even if nothing is going wrong in my life at the moment, and I can be happy even if everything is going wrong.

Stasi Eldredge recently wrote a book titled “Defiant Joy” and I think that’s appropiate, the deepest Joy is usually defying the circumstances.

Suffering has a way of making us understand better whyt his world just cannot satisfy us, and our Joy is clearer when we see it depends on heavenly things, not earthly things.

I don’t just meant hat as a cliche, I mean that the ability to think about how heaven is, how God is over all, how we will live forever in that Reality, is the key to feeling true Joy.

You know, if I could give a pieve of advice to any new Christain, or curious seeker reading this, I’d tell them “Pay attaention to the cliches, the cliches are true.”

There’s hardly one Christian saying or teaching, which people usually roll their eyes at, that I have not found to be ultimately a profound truth.

“Just have Faith”

“You have to trust God”

“Don’t focus too much on earhtly things”

“God is in control”

We like to say that those just aren’t comforitng, that they make us feel liek no one is listening to our pain.

But I’ve come to see those sayings came form genrations of Christians going through trials, and finding that those really were the simple turhts they had to hold on to, in the end the simplest things are the most Comforitng. Like

“You’re not alone”

“God is in this.”

We say it because it’s true. Cliche or not.

I still think that God will “give me the desires of my heart” as the Word says, but I now know better that those desires will sometiems feel like a chore too.

I’m not married yet, but I do realzie once I am, there will be tiems my husband seems like more of an annoyance than a blessing. Same with children. Even if I live out my dream of adopting, I’ll certainly be tired of it at times.

I love teaching, but I don’t love it when I have a headache or didn’t sleep the night before.

Nothing mortal is always fun. Even worshipping God can be a struggle at times.

But, even so, it doesn’t make those things not worthwhile.

And losing them doesn’t mean you give up.

If I gave up every time I was disappointed, I’d not have anything left, that’s the honest truth.

I mean on everything, too. Deliverance from my personal problems, getting a job, getting a boyfriend, writing a successful book, getting a car, teaching.

All of it I got let down on a lot of times before I got any of those things, and I still am waiting on some.

I’ve learned the hard way that if you get knocked down, you really do have to get back up. Even if it’s not fair, even if it’s tragic, even if it’s tearing your heart out to keep going, you have to, or you’ll shrivel into nothing.

I think the Karate Kid remake actually summed that up in a beautiful way. (I liked the new one better than the old simply because I thought it had some deeper themes than just overcoming a bully problem, not that that’s bad, but of overcoming loss itself.)

The Bible says “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.” {Proverbs 24:16}

I guess you know you’re the righteous by seeing if you got up again. It doesn’t take much to defeat someone who has no character.

They say the best way to heal from losing a pet is to get a new one soon. I think that is true. It’s easier to dare to love again if you don’t let the memory of your love fade away, along with the pain, by not loving anything else again.

Rebounding is not always healthy, but it can be far worse to close off forever. No, it is far worse.

All this to say, whatever you lose, you need to rebound. Wisely, but do it. It’s the only way to heal.

I believe that is why at the end of Job, God gives him all he had, doubled, save for his children, since God seems to count the ones who died as still being part of the number, a note of respect most people miss reading that story (I got it pointed out by someone else).

God’s message is not that the loss didn’t matter, but that Job, having lost everything, had to start again if he would be restored. That is the only way to heal.

Job is one of the only Old Testament men mentioned to have given his daughters an inheritance, treating them as equals to his sons. We aren’t told why he did this, but perhaps he realized that in life, you should bless people as much as you can while you can, because you really have nothing certain, and gender and age just don’t matter as much as we think.

Job loved harder after losing everything, and that is how I want to be. I want my loss to mean that in the future, I’ll give more to people I wouldn’t have before.

Well, that is all for now, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Why should we make our bed in the morning?

Yesterday marked my 4th straight week of being off coffee. This is from someone who loves the taste of coffee and has drunk it almost every day since I was 15 or 16.

I went off it because of my infection, coffee is bad for a sore mouth, too acidic, but I realized in the onset of headaches, energy drops, and cravings that followed that I am a little too dependent on coffee. I’m no addict, but still, I don’t love the side effects.

My mood changed too. I wake up and feel a little down most mornings, low energy, empty stomach, etc. Coffee can help jolt me into productivity, I usually work on creative stuff in the morning, and do actual work in the afternoon. Of course, needing caffiene is part of what makes that feeling, so I’ve created the problem I’m trying to solve. Who can relate?

Today, I felt better than I have in days waking up, but it’s funny how when my obdy does better, my mood tends to swing back to fighting off the blues.

I’ve noticed illness can be a distraction from other problems. Some people are forever worrying about their body, who are probably actually perfectly fine, because that’s easier than facing the fact that they are lonely, unhappy, or angry about something in their life.

Of course crippling anxiety comes with illness, for me, a lot, though I’m getting over that, but to me anxiety is an old feeling, and Im used to it. The feeling that my life has stopped, will never change, will always be this gray, drab indoor existance, that is what I prefer not to focus on, when I don’t feel well, that’s easier.

Not that I prefer feeling ill. It’s a vicious cycle.

This morning I was going to watch a movie (I bet some of you wish your mornings were so free you could watch movies on a Friday, but sometimes it just makes me feel like loser) and I was going to watch G. I. Jane (good film), but it was unavailable all of the sudden, so I selected a movie my mom recommended and I was planning on watching: “Julie and Julia.”

If you like cooking or human interest stories, I think you’ll like this film, but this post is not a review.

It’s just that the film brought some things to mind.

I dont know about you, but since quarantine really started dragging out–you know, after the first 2 weeks– I’ve had issues watching anything that reflects any of the emotions we’re all feeling. Fear, depression, a sense of purposelessness.

But converseley, watching anything about freedom, happiness, and the perfect ending also grinds my gears, it’s like its taunting me with a “You can’t have this. Your life is on a loop.”

I know I’m talking to someone here.

Basically, I’m tired of living through a screen, one way or another. But reading has had rather the same effect, it’s almost worse in a book, I get more into it emotionally. I just read “The Diary of Anne Frank” and that was a rollercoaster, but hey, being in hiding, being in lockdown, there’s a lot of similarities. Anne describes the living for the little things, the brief glimps of the outside worl through a window, or through friends coming over. The frustratation of being stuck with other people, the joy of finding solace in other people…etc.

The fear of something going horribly worng. Even if at times she felt her life wasnt worth living, she was terrified at the idea of losing it.

Yeah, it hits home, doesn’t it. At least I know Im not crazy.

I figure everyone feels the same as I do, so there’s no reason I should hide it.

I was walking down a street yesterday, and I heard some women talking very loudly, the hwole block could have practically heard it, about having troulbes in their relationships. One was, anyway, and she felt seh had no reason to have a meltdown, no reason to feel this way, she was supposed to be happy. The other woman loudly told her that the whole world has never gonet hrough anything like this, we’re all in it.

I felt both sympathetic, and like laughing at this.

On the one hand, I feel you, ladies. I really do.

On the other, its pretty narcissistic or else just ignorant, to say the whole world has never gone through something like this. Oh yes it has. This is still small compared to WWII, the Great Depression, the Communist Threat in the East and Russia. I’ve read the books, it was just like this, but worse, because we can still go out, still face-time our friends, and still lead relatively normal lives, just differently. Some of those people couldn’t trust their own family not to turn them in. Couldn’t trust they wouldn’t be shot if they left their house.

I know, there’s been rioting here in the USA, so some people don’t feel safe, but it’s not every single place in the country.

Things could be a whole lot worse. And as a Christian, I have it on authority, one day they will be. But this is not the end yet. It can’t last forever.

You know what’s strange, not a single person I know at my church has contracted the virus. I’ve not heard of one. Even their families for the most part. Fortunately, no one in my own family has got it either.

Even with the knowledge that we are relativley blessed compared to past crisis, I understand many people have lost someone, or are simply depressed because of the constant gloom.

You have my condolences if you have lost someone, but there’s not much I can say about something I haven’t gone through, so I will focus on what I can perhaps help a little with.

I honestly feel like, part of the problem is that we all have toom uch time to think, about all the things, not just that we wanted to do in the future, but that we have failed to accomplish in the past.

We’re not where we want to be, and now it feels like were not even getting there, because we’re stuck in the same place, with the same people, every single day. Week after week. Month after months, has it really been 8 months? At least for some countries, I think it’s 6 months here, soon.

Before, I could do things that distracted me from feeling like I wasn’t where I wanted to be, I thought, I’m at least working on getting there, but now it feels like that ground to a halt, not by my own choice, and I feel out of control. Hence the depression many people are feeling.

My sister says that it’s human nature, not know what will happen makes us wonder if anything is worth it, but if we knew what was coming, we’d be afraid of it because of our mortality. I guess that’s why so many myths portray finding out the future to be a fearsome thing that causes people to make really stupid decisions, which end up leading to the bad things they knew would happen, or else, ruining the good things they were told would happen.

Yet, Jesus told us the future, and said “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

How?

Well, I’m still figurien that out.

I’m at the stage where one little dissappointment feels huge, because I have so few things to anticipate happening. I wanted to cry when I heard the next season of my favorite show would be delayed till next year.

And one good thing happening feels tenous. Like “but if this goes worng, then what?”

And, it has gone wrong. I can’t say a whole lot of good things have happened to me this year. Though my problems started before the lockdown did.

We’ve all heard that the little things are important. Like you should make your bed every day, you should brush your hair, take a walk. Cook.

And we’re like “why? Who cares?” I see it all over where anyone talks about quarantine, people aren’t showering, doing laundry, or cooking or anything. PEople thought they’d be productive, but now they are finding that if human approval was all you were ever after trying to work, and play, and such, then once it’s removed, you have no motivation.

Pays to be home-schooled your whole life and taught to love learning for its own sake, and to do work because it mattered to your God and your family, and not to earn browning points at school. My mom didn’t do grades. Now I make A’s and B’s. Guess not knowing all those years didn’t hurt me at all.

but I struggle with feeling like it’s all meaningless too.

But I had a thought today. When we do these menial tasks, as repetitive as they are, it’s kind of like an act of faith, an act of hope. We’re sort of saying, to our family, ourselves, and our God, that “I still care. This still matters. Because I believe that doing the small things leave me open to do the big things.”

I cook a meal today because I believe cooking will be important in the future. Even if it doesn’t feel like it matters now.

Even if cooking dosn’t matter, my family eating does.

Making the bed doesn’t matter that much in of itself, but doing your daily duty, it matters becaues it’s the daily things that remind us of the long term things.

C. S. Lewis got at the idea that th Present is the closest thing any of us experience to Eternity. And Eccleistates says that God has put Eternity into the hearts of man.

Christian think that heaven will be an eternal Now. All things will be happening at once, yet nothing will overlap. Something we can probably only even imagine though dreams, because time is odd in dreams.

And the every day things are important because, when you think about it, Heaven doesn’t really touch our lives at any time except in the present. We can’t live in the future, we shouldn’t live in the past.

If I try to live into even 6 days ago, I end up in a world of hurt, because I’m borrowing troulbe I already went through and going through it again.

I think this quarantine is kind of liek that. If we think about how long it’s gone on, we’re exhausted, and it feels like we’re serving out a sentance.

When Corrie Ten Boom was in soliatary confinement, she learned to make every little thing she did count. If she had a chore, she did that, if she had ants to watch, she would stop the chore and do that. She would read scripture “until the pain stopped” and it became more alive.

Funny, reading the Bible doesn’t make me feel worse. It truly is the book for the suffering person. It never minimizes suffering, but it promises a renewel of strength for those who suffer. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall laugh” (Luke 6).

The Bible also tells us to do everything we do as to Christ. I think this means what people are trying to say when they say “live in the moment.” Be fuly present.

You know what robs me of joy the most in my life is not sorrow itself, but being distracted by thinking about my problems. When I do things I ejoy, my mind will wander onto it all.

Take a second, ask yourself, how many times doing anything I liked lately hve I quantified it by a reference to the lockdown or virus?

Ive heard it from everyone “Right now we can’t do anything else but…”

“Everything’s crazy right now so I didn’t…”

“Because of quarantine I binged…”

If we were brutally honest, we’d admit we would have done or not done all those things even if quarantine hadn’t happened. It’s just a really convientednt exuse.

But here’s something I wouldn’t have done without this:

I wouldn’t have made a new friend in my ASL class probably, or not as fast.

I wouldn’t have tried as many new recipes and found out I liked being creative in cooking.

I wouldn’t have gotten to know the people at my church better from hearing their stories and seeing who was consistant enough to keep coming and trying to connect.

I maybe even will get a job because of it, fingers crossed.

And yes, I’ve spent too much time watching stuff, but I did find some new shows I liked that maybe wouldn’t have sounded as interesting without this.

I’ve read more books too.

And I’ve gotten closer to God, and my family.

Is it all good, no.

And do I still need to learn how to live in the moment. Yes.

But here’s the thing, what if we all stopped focusing on what we lost because of this, and started looking at what we gained? Or what we still have. What we can still do. And instead of measuring it by quarentine, look at it as outside of it. Something that isn’t really touched by this trial.

The Word says everything that can be shaken will be shaken until all that remains is what cannot be shaken.

So, maybe we should look at what hasn’t been shaken.

If nothing else, people will always be arguing about politics as long as free speech exists, which I hope is still for a long time. I get annoyed with it, but I’d rather have constant arguing than lose the ability to argue in public at all. Think about that.

I still get restless, and I’m sure I will again, even today. But if I’m growing closer to be able to just be present to everything here, then I am growing stronger.

In the end that’s what Anne Frank learned, and what Corrie Ten Boom learned, and what everyone who survives and thrives in these times learns. not to never be depressed, that’s impossible, but to live for the Now. Whatever the Now happens to be.

Looking ahead is good, too, that’s how we hope. But it’s good to appreciate what we already have.

Even if it’s just one or two things, that’s something. There’s some who don’t even have that.

I guess I’ll end this with a challenge, if anyone has read this far down (thank you) then how about you comment something that you gained or still have even after all that’s happened. Anything’ll do. We all need to talk more to each other about it.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Where I’m at.

What a month last month was for me. Crazy.

It’s not usually a good idea to list the bad things that happen to you, but sometimes you have to in order to just appreciate that you got through it.

So, in the course of a month, I:

  1. Got rejected from at least 3 job applications after an interview.
  2. Got a mouth infection (not fun) and had to be on antibiotics that made me feel nauseous.
  3. Had a huge attack of intrusive thoughts.
  4. Had a huge attack of anxiety about all of the above
  5. Then got what we think was mild food poisoning, along with my sister, and had a 2nd period in one month, a weird phenomenon that happens sometimes and made me feel even sicker.

Still recovering from that last one, but I am feeling better. Still I felt so sick I barely ate anything for 3 days and just managed to eat a little better yesterday. Don’t know if it was hormones, allergies, bad food, or some unholy combination of all three.

Somehow, even after all that, I still have felt closer to God than before.

I don’t think God gave me all those problems directly, and with prayer, thankfully, some of them are going away, but God didn’t just lift them off immediately either.

It’s ironic that a lot of my problems are self-inflicted after the intial issue that wasn’t in my control.

I eat less when I’m stressed, so the more worried I get about feeling unwell, the less I want to eat, and the worse I feel as I get hungrier.

I worry so much about making it worse by eating, I forget that not eating makes it far worse.

My sister asked me why it bothers me so much to think of throwing up, and I didn’t really have an answer. It just always has. Even if arguably that’s not the worst thing ever ( I hate it), what I hate most is how ill I feel before and afterwards. It gets to where I’m more afraid of the idea than of the reality.

It goes back to when I was a kid and felt sick a lot because of anxiety. I would try to figure out what kind of sick I felt, and obsess over it, but I’d think “as long as I don’t throw up it’s not the worst.” I’d pray, begging for that. When I’d feel better a few hours later, it was relief.

The thing is, it’d ruin my time, whatever I was doing. All I wanted was to be at home, curled up with a book, or by the toilet, even if I knew nothing was going to happen.

I guess I never questioned if I could be any different. After I got older and my faith got stronger, this problem went away for the most part, but it rears up every now and then with my allergies, or stress, or PMS. I rarely ever actually get sick, even colds, but I freak out any time I think I might be.

So, getting sick twice in one month has me tripping, you can imagine.

At least, it would, if I let it.

But in another way, God used both these experiences to show me how deeply I worry about health. And let it steal my peace and joy any time I have a glimmer of sickness, real or false.

When I get worried, it’s hard for my body to heal anyway, or to even want to. I almost don’t want to try, for fear it won’t work, because then…then what? I guess I feel I couldn’t handle it.

The reality is that’s not true. As with most things, this fear is mostly just shadowy illusions, not based in what’s likely.

I can’t even say if having physical symptoms is worse than emotional. Some of you who have mental illnesses probably think you’d trade for a physical one in a heartbeat, or it might be the other way around. Every problem seems easier to deal with then our own.

Well, our struggles are tailor made for us, I think, in more ways than one. I inherited this struggle with my health from my Grandparents, like with so many other fun things I deal with. I had two who were obsessed with their health constantly.

My dad also constantly felt bad, and just lived with it, never feeling he deserved any better.

Now, me, I’m trying to kick all this. Not that I beleive I will never get sick, but that the same constnat problems I’ve had my whole life can go away.

I know that not every problem goes away, but so many of mine are stress related, and being stressed isn’t a state of mind I want to stay in.

I doubt most people think of me as a stressed person, who know me. I don’t come off that way, because external things rarely upset me as much as other people, my battle is always inward with my own issues. It’s hard to explain that to people.

God showed me how much I think of this stuff. And I am getting a glimmer too of how often I pity myself.

My dad always pitied himself, but he wasn’t compassionate to himself, and I can act the same way. I will feel sorry for myself for going through all this, and beg sympathy of people, but I will be hard on myself at the same time, with a frustration toward my body for not cooperating with what I want and not letting me do what I want.

As if what I want is always best. It seems better than doing what I used to and embracing it as an excuse to hide, but perhaps the pride of thinking I know best is not really better, just different.

Yet, after the first day of feeling really sick, to the point where I dry heaved and gagged, but nothing came up, my sisters and I prayed, and then I got up and danced around my living room, feeling better, but not completely, and I did manage to eat a little after that.

I didn’t get that bad the other days.

But I thought, I would have never done that in the past. Somehow, I felt fine, even though I didn’t feel fine. How is that possible?

God is weird sometimes.

I don’t know how all this will end, I’m learning as I go. I don’t even know how applicable it is for anyone but me, the reasons people struggle are so different.

But my thought it, maybe all this is happening now so I don’t spend decades of my life with the same problems as my dad had. Always thinking I couldn’t do anything about them.

Maybe it’s necessary to learn this now, to prepare for my calling. Certainly it’s interesting how much God can teach you just from living everyday life. Some of us go on big soul searching journerys, some of us stay home and live ordinary lives for 20 years till one day God tells us to move, like Abraham.

Whichever it is, I guess I’m learning, like Paul, to be content with where I am at, to believe it’s where I need to be, and God is growing me through this. Even if it seems painfully small at times.

Though, G. K. Chesterton thought that the ordinary things in life were the most enchanted.

I guess I’ll end with that thought, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.