True Beauty

Sigh… okay let’s talk about another Webtoon.

I won’t be the first person to express frustration with True Beauty. It seemed like it would be a story about what makes someone truly beautiful, not being make-up, or clothes, or hair, but what’s inside. For a Korean story, that’s quite a risk.

I didn’t know this ,but my internet savvy sister informed me how Korea is kind of obsessed with external beauty, that plastic surgery is not uncommon there, and people try really hard. Maybe that’s the reason behind the k-pop craze.

I’ve seen some pictures, and I think it all looks a little too plastic for my tastes, plus I don’t really like feminine looking men all that much, I like men that look like men. I mean, the idols are cute, but I couldn’t see myself dating one.

I also found out age is counted differently in Korea. I’d be 23 there.

With a culture like that, it’s not surprising that the huge influx of webtoons from Korea (most webtoons are from Korea) focus on the damages of being obsessed with appearance superficial stuff like singing, acting, etc.

I currently read “No Longer a Heroine” and “Your Smile is a Trap” two stories that focus a lot on those subjects. True Beauty does give some attention to it, but the fans began to get annoyed with how long the MC (I can’t spell the names) kept obsessing over it, and over which of two hot guys she should ed up with.

If you read it and care about my opinion, I’m team Suho,

Fan casting of 9 characters in True beauty

but I don’t enjoy either ship very much, I just find Suho more likable overall (and his is the only name I can spell, let alone pronounce). I don’t dislike the other guy, on his own, but all his interactions with the MC annoy the crap out of me.

Anyway, so in short, the fans feel the story promised one thing and delivered another. This is not uncommon for anime, from what I’ve seen, but for Webtoons, it actually is. Most of the ones I’ve read deliver on their message fairly well, I was quite impressed. They handle story way better than most shows I’ve seen do. Perhaps part of it is the lack of studio interference, let’s hope it stays that way.

I can’t accurately theorize about why the author chose this route, I actually believe their goal is still to explore the theme of true beauty, but they are not sure of the best way to do that at this stage. I think they set out to do that, and got caught up in the romance, but maybe I’m wrong, maybe they are just basic. It doesn’t really matter, I try to judge a story by its potential.

The trick with that though is, judging by potential can miss the point. My favorite anime is MHA, and the biggest haters of that show tend to criticize it for not doing what they think it should. My old fave, RWBY, got heat for the same reason.

While MHA is still good, RWBY devolved due to studio interference and too much fan hate into something that no longer make any kind of sense or even resembles its original self. It’s no longer about potential so much as the loss of anything meaningful at all.

But MHA drew me in because the author constantly subverts tropes and uses them in a new way. The angry character is sensitive and level headed, the ditsy character is actually grounded, the hero can sometimes be too naive, the villain can be evil but still able to be a foil for the hero without making him/her sympathetic. So, in the end, what I expected and din’t get was a good thing. The potential of the show is unlimited as long as the writing style stays that way it is. It’s not perfect, but it is unique.

So, as I said, Potential is tricky many fans are presumptions and pretentious about it, and I don’t want to be there. I will say, I was never really a fan of this comic to being with, I was on the fence, so I don’t think I’m blinded by fan-passion.

The reason I think it’s fair to criticize this story based on potential, is because there’s actually nothing of substance in the story, except for the backstory of the two male leads, which was quite heartbreaking. The MC isn’t a bad person, but she does nothing noteworthy at all, she has nothing profound to add to the story, and she is annoying.

I’m actually not that invested in the message of true beauty being only inward, as I don’t really believe that. I believe beauty is outward, inward, and beyond. Music is beautiful, so is art, so is virtue. I find stories that say that outward beauty doesn’t matter to be just untrue. The Bible actually doesn’t support this idea despite what is popularly believed. It tells us not to obsess over outward adornment, but many stories in it support being a s beautiful as you can be. Ruth, Ester, Abigail, Sarah, and others were all renowned for their beauty, and tried to be beautiful, at least in 3 out of 4 of those examples.

I personally believe if you don’t try to be your best self, outward as well as inward, you don’t respect yourself. I try to look good even when I’m not wearing make up and am in my comfy clothes. I still coordinate and clean up and brush my hair. I never leave the house with the kind of sloppy, messy bun I see other women walk around with. It’s not that I think I’m better than them, it’s that I think my appearance tells people I respect myself and I respect others. I have almost never been hit on or disrespected in public. I think the facts speak for themselves.

Given that I have this attitude, what drives me crazy about True Beauty is the MC’s toxic attitude toward herself. Her family doesn’t help her much, but still, she’s so grating. She acts like her face is the worst thing ever. According to the other characters in the story, she’s actually cute, even without make up, but she uses make-up to change how she looks.

True Beauty- My First Impression | Shoujo Amino Amino

I guess I shoudl address this since it cause a lto of conroversy in the world of make up.

I did my time watching tutorials on YouTube, I could even link my favorite channel below. I got into make up tutorials because they were artistic, I wanted to learn how to imitate characters I liked, and do themed looks, like Seasonal, Disney, Princess, Fairy, etc. So, I learned about changing how your face looks for costume sake. And I actually applied it while I was doing Shakespeare plays, I did a really amazing amateur job to make my sister look old and decrepit when she played Shylock. Since I didn’t have professional make up to work with, it didn’t show up much on stage, but up close it was quite impressive. I’ve done other looks since, with moderate success.

My own make up, I don’t use to change how my face looks, I lean into my natural beauties. I enhance my eye shape, rather than change it, and I bring out my lip color and skin tone by picking colors similar to my own.

I am blessed with very good base features to begin with, I can go out without make up on and feel perfectly confident of my appearance. Make up is a fun thing for me because I don’t take it so seriously, and I’ve seen other girls who have confidence say the same.

That being said, you can see why someone treating make up as a life saver would be unrelatable for me. and someone hating on their natural face is also weird, as I just don’t do that.

Yes, the thought crosses my mind, but I don’t humor it. I think every woman has temptations to judge her face too harshly, I think men do also, but for me it is a temptation, not a compulsion.

You may say (though I doubt you all would really judge me on this one) that it is easy for me because I am naturally pretty, and I don’t have a toxic family telling me how ugly I am all the time.

Well, to that I would say: You haven’t read this blog long enough, go back and check out my abuse category.

I grew up believe I was ugly. I didn’t like my nose, or my face. I thought my eyes were scary. I have very sculpted eyebrows naturally, and dark eyes, and I used to think I looked angry all the time, other people sometimes thought I did. But some people began saying they were pretty, and my mind changed.

But once I hit puberty and began doing make up and outfits on my won more, I wanted to be pretty. I still wan’t sure I was. I asked my family, my mom would tell me I was digging for a compliment (and she sounded so disdainful about it, I was shocked) and not answer usually, sometimes she would say I had nice eyes or a nice smile, but when I would still be insecure and need to hear it again, she’s say I was digging for it.

My dad was decidedly worse, I would ask how I looked (and not even direct the question to him) and he’d answer “Hideous” every single time. I think he complimented me one time in 6-8 years about how I looked. Once he asked if I was going to use make-up, I said I didn’t need it (tried to be confident, you know) he said “It wouldn’t hurt you to use a little make up and style your hair.”

My hair has been praise more than any other of my features. It’s a unique color, wavy almost curly, and long and soft. I usually leave it alone because it’s naturally styled for me by being wavy and curling it doesn’t really work, it’s too thick. And everyone else loves it, but my dad…I think he was being spiteful, quite honestly.

These memories don’t hurt as much as they once did, but they do serve as a reminder to me that my confidence is not because of my parents, but in spite of them.

So yeah, I did not have a family who lifted my up. I did make some friends who did, and it was through that, and reading some good books, and prayer, that I began to feel confident. I now can look at myself and think I look really good. I owe that to God and better friends and sisters who thankfully did not inherit my parents dysfunctional traits (or are working to overcome them as I am).

One thing that also change it for me was learning to give compliments and look for beauty in other people, even if I found them unattractive at first, if I looked long enough or know them enough I could see something pretty or handsome about them. Doing that to others taught me to give myself a bit more credit too, I realized if I could see it in them, they could probably see it in me.

Sometimes when I feel bad about my face, I think to myself “Well, I may not see it, but other people think I look good, so why feel down about it?” And that snaps me out of it pretty quickly. Really, almost everyone can be thought attractive by others, people have very diverse tastes. Some people like chubbiness, some like stock, some like beard, some like unsaved legs for crying out loud (actually, most culture don’t care about shaved legs, that’s very American, I think Asian too).

Given that I has this background I do, and I still became confident, I have zero sympathy for the MC of True Beauty. It’s not necessarily he choice to have issues to being with, but I actively sought out a way to overcome those issues, I put better ideas into my head, and she doesn’t. She goes to online forums that only encourage a shallow way of thinking, surrounds herself with friends who also care too much, though not as much as she does. And she doesn’t take care of her skin or body, to be the best natural self she could be. Then she whines about being ugly. I’m like “Girl, you chose this, it’s not like you couldn’t be pretty if you took care of yourself.”

I mean, if she stopped doing make up for a few months, took care of her skin, and ate less sugar, she’d be fine. But she refuses to drop her beauty facade for even a week.

At the end of the day, the cycle she’s in is one she made for herself, and it’s not anyone else’s fault, she’s not ugly, and she doesn’t have to do what she does, but she does it because she prefers the shortcut way to beauty.

And that’s the thing, True Beauty takes work. Being beautiful outside and inside.

I take care of my skin. I use facial scrubs, I use lotio, I wash it usuallyy at lesa once a day before bed. I put on chapstick. It all take a few mintues tops. When I feel like it, I do more, but doing at least that much has given me pretty cldan skin. And this is not reaching for the stars. Every woman who can fofrd make up can afford skin care, if we prioritzed that instead.

I didn’t use to think skin care was that improtant, but I’ve learned it actually seems to reduce stress and helath issues when my skin is soft and clean. IT just geels better, getiing tocxis and dirt off. So, hey, d it for you r mood if not for your body.

Plus, thats workin with wha God gave you.

As for body type, a think that the MC also gripse about, there is such a thing s style.

My sisters and I have tihs issue. I have a body type that is perfect for store-boufth mainsteeam clothes. They are all desgien to look good on someone with my specofic body type. I’ve been told I could model. I don’t think I could handle the ahssle and pressure f it, but I have noticed that my figure is the right kind. I am tall also.

Most people don’t reali that mainstream clothes are desgined to look good on only one kind of person. That’s becuase it’s easier to seel in mass that way. And if you don’t buy off the rack, you’re stuck with it.

However, there are away around it. My sisters and I use belts, hats, scarves, and different match ups of clothes to create our own unique mesh of styles that accenuate our good points.

My poont is:t’s not that hard to be beautiful.

But even if you do have deformities, or health problems whtat affect your appearance, you don’t have to think you’re ugly.

Even if you are ugly, it does not have to matter in the long run.

The truth is, bueaty only matters in circles that focus on i. If you don’t have that natural beuaty that people cracve, don’t run aorund social media, the entertaiment indstry, and modeling and other beuaty themed careers. Beuaty of that sort is just a gift, like any other, to be enjoyed, and used if you like, but it’s not quintessential to a good life.

IF you respect yourself, others will respect you even ifyou are truly ugly, and fe people are. Most are not as ugly as they think they are, even if they are plain.

And plain people can still be beautiful. Inner light shines out, it doesn’t matter whether you have a good face or not.

In the end, certai cirlse of people will never call you beautiful if you don’t meet a sstandard. They will not call a fat person beautifl even if they are, because fat is a disqulaifier for them. IT’s not based onre ality.

I actually see no real issue with this. If I’m casting for a role that matches a certain despeciription, it doesn’t matter how hot someone is, if they don’t match that depcirptin, I can’t use them. For better or worse, the moern beauty industry has one standard, and that’s thwy they are looking for. May of the peole in it might admit it’s narrow, and beuaty is bigger than a singlual body type, but it’s impossible to amek it competaive that way.

And competiton isn ecessary to have beaty be a sourc eof income.

And if you think hat’as unfair, tough. Becuae I think penty of peoel who support their family with their face, and take good care of their body and larnt he art of make upa nd style deserve some reward for it. Ther’s nothing worng with any of that. tRaing you boy like a canvas can incease your respect for the body. Just as becoign apainter yoursle finceras yoru repsect for paint and canvas. I love paper and pens in a way other s don’t because I am a wirter, I love books ad their smell and feel becuase I am a reader, I love the detail of FRench and ASL becuaes I am a language buff. I don’t see why beuaty is any different.

the insiantiy is that people don’t see it as having enres. They think all beuaty is one way. Mainsteam beuaty could be seen as the genre of fanstasy. That’s the goal, to be better than reality, or at least markedly different. Not relaistic. No one want s realizm in fantasty.

But the genre of beuaty could also be in athethic beauty, or old fashioned beauty, or a materanl family kind. I see beuaty in allt hose areas, I don’t expect a stay at home mom to look like a model, but she can be beuatufil, just in the way that makes sens for what she does.

I hope my poinnti is not too compbulted, It hink I got on a roll.

You see what I mean? Beuaty if different for differnt people, and honeslty, the people in the copetive egine often understand that just fine, it’s their job to conform to the standard os their profession, they wose ones will stay out of the other genres.

IT’s us who try to comibne them all into some disgusting mess that no one can keep up with.

YEs, the mainstream doe stkae it too far. ED should not be a common problem for models and actors.

But, it’s not all evil either.

I think Miss Congeniality made a good point about this, if you put no effort in, it’s not jsut that you think beauty doesn’t matter, it means that you think you can be subpar on purpose.

And any area of life you settle for less than your best in, you are still falling short.

IF the best osme people cna do is be 300lbs and happy, that’s all good. IF you can’t lose weight, don’t feel bad. IF you can’t gain weigh, (I can’t) don’t feel bad.

But if you choose to be 200lbs when you could be 180;bs with better helath decisions…well, I don’t want to listen to your girping. which is my issue with True Beauty.

If you choose to be unattractive, and have unattractive attitudes, I don’t think you deserve much pity. I hop you get help, but if you refuse it when it’s offered, why should I feel sorry for you? Or try to build up your ego when you will knock it down yourself?

There are people who have made bad choices and are now sorry. That’s not who I’m talking about. I think recovery is admirable and important, I ought to after all the recovery I’ve been doing.

I mean the ones who park there forever.

Depend upon it, how you treat your outwear self does effect you inward.

The MC becomes a liar and a hypocrite. I just got to episode 94 or so, where she chides her bf about not being honest with her, and then realizes she is not honest with him either. She evens talked to her her ex about this, and he encourages her to be honest, her sister encourages it also. But she stills flips out and runs form her bf the second he sees her without make up, and almost gets hit by a car. At that point, as her bf, I would have yelled at her and been really mad. That’s just stupidity. He’s very nice about it, instead, but that says more about his insecurities than hers.

Pin by CarrieMaxwell on *Web Toon saves* | True beauty, Photo editing vsco,  Anime people

I mean, if I found out my SO was hiding their face form me, for months, I would feel insulted. It implies they don’t trust me.

Now hear me on this, it’s true she’s insecure, and she’s got problems, so she believes he will be disappointed no matter what. All that is real, and I won’t make fun of it or diminish it, I have issues too.

But this is what I think: If you are going to be with someone, romantically, you need to be wiling to show them your ugly side, even if you believe they will hate it. It is only fair to them,and if you really love them, you will not lie. It may be hard for you, it may be all you hear is screaming in your head that you’ll be rejected, but it doesn’t matter. You must be vulnerable to be a in a real, loving relationship.

I have a crush, and I have not hesitated to tell him I had an abusive past, and now have no father. He has not stopped being my friend, or treated me differently over it, but if he had, I’d have wanted to know that sooner rather than later.

Does that mean my crush should be my bf? No, but it means, I didn’t hide anything, if it was to happen.

And it wasn’t always easy. I know some people see others as damaged goods. They have terrible reactions to hearing you were a victim. Or they are overwhelmed. That may happen to me, it actually did, with someone else… but, I refuse to act like I have anything to be ashamed of. I’ve found people to be much more sympathetic because of that.

And I don’t judge others as much now that I’ve come to see it in myself. If someone complains about their parents, I don’t assume that thy are just bad kids, I’ve learned it can be quite real.

One more thing:

I don’t like the attitude of True Beauty that you need your boyfriend to affirm he will not stop loving you if you don’t look the same without make up. If that is even a question, you are dating the wrong guy. Or girl, gents, if you have that problem too.

Hey, he may be surprised, but if you change your face, he has a right to be surprised, who wouldn’t be? It doesn’t mean you’re ugly, you idiot (I mean the MC.)

If I gave myself slanted eyes with make up and then took it off, I’d expect someone who didn’t know to be a little stunned.

If anything, the guy should dump her for lying to him for months, but he did the same so I guess he can’t talk. Great foundation for a relationship, I know. Ugh.

I detest dishonesty above almost all else in a relationship, and I don’t practice it myself. Sometimes I think I get lied to without knowing it because I expect others to be as honest with me as I am with them.

That’s a discussion for another time, however.

To wrap it all up, true Beauty is something hard to quantify. I think if you glory in looking good outside, that is part of your true beauty, and as long as you are not prideful about it, that’s fine. If you don’t care about make up and clothes, but you still respect yourself and take care of yourself, than true Beauty is in that. It’s also in your soul.

But if you treat yourself like you are ugly, you become ugly inside and out. That’s the end of it.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha

Link to my favorite Make-up channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/charismastar

Losing Anger

I guess it’s time for another serious post, isn’t it?

Getting so close to 200 followers here, it’s interesting to wonder why they are all here. I write about so many different things, I think it’s hard to get a sense of what this blog is about.

That being said, I’ve been thinking about my dad again lately. I tend to get reminded of him a lot, with all the Webtoons I’ve been reading, abuse and dysfunction are very common elements in a Webtoon. I could only count a handful out of the dozens I’ve read that didn’t feature it.

I guess because it’s a part of so many people’s lives, especially the ones that want to escape into the world of Webtoons, I don’t know many happy people who feel the end to immerse themselves in that kind of fiction. Oh, a happy person might enjoy it still, but binging and obsessing over it, that’s for the sad or discontented among us. Sometimes, the quietly hopeful that our lives will get better.

Which means I am admitting to myself that my life is still not what I want it to be. Well, I think I’ve heard learning content is an art from somewhere, if that’s not a saying it should be.

One of the big things that was a problem while I was miserable was feeling angry at my dad for all he seemed to have caused in my life.

“Thanks Dad, let me down again” –Shoto (only in a comic dub version of this comic though)

It’s funny how fast you can go from not blaming one person for anything they do, to blaming them for stuff that they didn’t do.

Some extremely defensive people are ones who recovered from abuse only part of the way, enough to know not to take all the blame, but not enough to take criticism maturely. I have trouble with this still, but then again, it has only been a year.

I still remember so many humiliation experiences. People talk about the pain of abuse, but sometimes we forget it is humiliating. The abuser often uses their lack of shame against their victims who still have a sense of shame.

My dad was not ashamed to discuss our personal arguments with random strangers at their homes when we worked for them, I’m sure some of those poor people were embarrassed on their part. I was mortified, all I could do with stay silent and look the other way. I suppose he thought it would make me too ashamed to keep arguing with him–that didn’t work.

So, taking criticisms is a bit of a sore subject for me, and anger over that is still something I deal with. Still, I can’t blame it all on him.

At this point, it is impossible to say if I am naturally obstinate and incorrigible, or if my dad made me rebellious by his unfair treatment my entire life. I can say I got much more resistant as I got more fed up with how he talked to me.

My dad has strange psychological issues, when I was about 11 he told us all he would quite gaming, and doing a bunch oft other stuff, ad he wanted us to hold him to that. I wasn’t sure why playing his War Games was so bad, but I took him at his word. At that age, I didn’t realize how much my dad lied. I had not been exposed to it the way my mom had. I later learned the same behaviors had continued since they were first married. Him deceiving her, swearing he’d give up the stuff he was addicted to, and then years or months later, getting back into it.

I was also too young to know addictions can’t be broken by sheer willpower. I called my dad out on it when he went back to games. My dad was diagnosed with ADD, playing video games can be almost the same as drugs for him, it’s too stimulating. I had a similar problem at first, but I worked hard to control it once I noticed the tenancy, and now I can play a game without getting too hooked, but I mostly avoid gaming at all now just so I won’t be tempted. I stopped before I was actually an addict, partly because my mom wouldn’t let me play all night like he did.

My sisters and I all have fond memories of our father screaming profanities at the computer in the wee hours of the morning when we were suppose to be asleep. If we told him not to, he’d yell at us. Once, he flung me out of the computer chair because I was still using the computer when he wanted to be on it. Mostly, he just threatened us till we got up.

It was scary. I confronted him on it, and on other stuff he said we should call him out on. To my shock, he told me I shouldn’t be correcting him, that is was disrespectful, and I was too critical of him. He’d tell me he didn’t need the added stress of me arguing with him. But he had no problem criticizing me, I can’t even tell you for what anymore. Any little thing would set him off. If I told him I didn’t want to hear the same story again, he’d come down on me and say I was ‘unteachable.” Later, he’d often exclude me from a family video session or devotion by saying “We don’t try to teach (Natasha) any more in this house.” Unbelievably petty, I know.

I’m usr some of you are seeing your story in this. There is no pyological tomern quite like malicious hypocirsy is there. Both scary and infuriating.

As you can imagine, I retaliated by defending myself, to no avail. Then I learned to shut up and ignore it, but I’d hold my ground. It hurt, but it seemed better to do as I wished than to give in to that kind of pressure. Somehow I knew it was wrong, even if no one ever told me it was.

My life coach told me when he father hit her, she’d leave the room, and say “That’s wrong, don’t hit me” and defend herself. We both agreed we’re the rare person who gets abused and still retains any sense of the injustice of it. Most victims know deep down it’s wrong, but believe they somehow deserve it and can’t get out.

I tell you all this now, not because I wish to dwell on it, but because, when talking about anger, it can be so easy to forget. I don’t have a victim mentality. Which means that I can’t always get angry ad whiny when I am treated unfairly. I just have to deal with it. Not perfectly, I do complain more than i should, but I try not to put myself on a weird pedestal and say everyone else is always at fault. But because I choose not to blame my father for it all, it can be easy to slip back into the deception of thinking he really wasn’t so bad.

All these behaviors were what I was used to after all, it was just how he was, compared to worse people, is he really all that bad? He himself would say not. His sister would say it was not his fault only, he has trouble understanding other people.

But my dad has no issue understanding people outside our family, I’ve heard him quite accurately discern the issues in other people’s lives, he is not incapable of understanding feelings. His blindness to ours was willing.

And that does make me angry, but, that anger is not as bad as it once was. Now that I am feeling better, and doing more things I enjoy, and the dark haze over my life has almost lifted completely, I don’t feel a need to be angry.

I was angry because it seemed he really could reach even from a distance and ruin my life, but the longer I am away from him, the less power I feel like he has. it takes awhile for any victim to feel safe, but bit by bit I am starting to.

I read something last week, in the latest free episode of my favorite Webtoon, that resonated with me quite deeply on this issue, and I think it’s worth sharing here:

The Purple Hyacinth - Webtoon Dub [OPEN] | Voice Acting Amino

“I know I’m not in any position to say this… but maybe you need to let go of this grudge against your brother. Not because I think you should forgive him. But holding onto anger is like poison you think you’re offering the other person. Only you’re the one who drinks it. He stole your past already. Are you going to let him have your future too? And look… one day he might be gone for real and then this resentment is all you’ll have left of him.”–Kym Ladell, Purple Hyacinth.

I have to credit the authors for how amazing this speech is. It’s not dramatic, but it is simple truth. Something someone who’s been through the difficult process of recovery would have discovered at some point.

The prominent theme of PH is truth. And how the truth is often harder to accept than lies, or ignorance. The truth can be ugly in a way, it can change how you look at people you loved, it can change how you look at yourself.

Minor spoilers ahead (I won’t reveal the plot, but a few key events may be slightly spoiled for you if you care to read the comic):

When Kieren hears from Lauren that what he does is terrible and he’s a monster, the truth of that is too much for him and he lashes out at her. He embraces the truth of his terrible deeds, but rejects the truth that he feels regret for them or was ever not the way he is now because that is too painful for him to accept while he still does what he does.

When Lauren learns some truths about her family, she is conflicted, she is not sure how she should feel about herself now, or her quest for justice. When Kieren confronts her about her more selfish motivations for their partnership, and hypocrisy, she is not sure if she is a good person anymore.

When Will is confronted with truth about his family, he is not sure how to feel. If he can ever let it go.

That is when Kym gives him this advice. She’s had some stuff happen that she’s still getting over, but unlike the other three, Kym has a slightly easier time admitting she has issues with what happened. She has realized that the truth about people is not always simple. Sure, they do bad things, they may even be bad people, but the way we handle it is not going to b simple. A simplistic solution, like resentment, just ruins your life.

Healing is harder, it takes a long time, and there are anyt imes along the road you will feel like giving up, and like you will never be whole.

Whether Kym is an optimist because she’s had better influences, or because she’s had help even from Will himself and Lauren to give her more hope, she seems to understand that she can’t keep sitting in the past, anymore than they can keep sitting in the cold snow that his scene takes place in. You have to get up and get moving eventually.

Healing and Peace are not a place, as the Oh Hellos said in “Theseus”, so much as they are a way. Coping mechanisms are not solutions, they are supposed to be temporary, people who park there are not healing, they are just surviving. you have to keep moving form one thing to another. My biggest obstacle to wholeness has been monotony. Stuck with the same thoughts, places, people, and problems for months, it’s like being in prison.

One way I coped was finding new shows and stories to read and watch, breaking up the sameness, but even that sameness became a part of the problem. Now I am changing it up with more social events, and going out and doing other things, if I really need to. So far, I’ve only tried it once, but even once was enough because now I know I can.

As I’ve changed, my anger has ebbed away. I no longer feel my dad is strangling me, or trapping me. I still face obstacles because of him. I wonder how long my trust issues will stay with me.

But I am starting to see how God is healing me and changing me, and more importantly, I have learned to say to myself sometimes “I don’t have to be healed all at once, it might take a few years, but that’s to be expected. It’s okay if it takes longer than this.”

I want to be ready for things like dating, working, and adventuring out into the world, but I am still preparing for that. I get tired of waiting, but the point is, I know I am waiting. This is not a permanent state of being.

Really, I’ve found even people who resign themselves to a mediocre life of sameness never get to keep it. Changes happen. Usually very suddenly. Trouble happens, or you are forced to step into a role you didn’t expect. Whether it take 1 year or 30, change comes to every life. Both World Wars interrupted the complacency of the 20th century. Awakenings can be quite rude. As last year proved to us all.

But we must wait actively. “Be ready in season and out of season” as the Bible says. If you are living a quiet life right now, still do as much as you can. I don’t want to be in college for the rest of my life, or doing nanny work, though I enjoy it. I have bigger dreams. I don’t want to be in therapy forever.

But while I am doing those things, I want to do them well, and get the most out of it that I can.

I reread some of my posts from a few months ago, and I was amazed at the world of hurt I was in. I wouldn’t change them, they were raw, but they were honest. That is my goal. But I am glad I do not feel the same way now.

It’s easier to feel happy when you feel good, but I think what I consider feeling bad has also changed as I no longer hyper-focus on it all the time. Turns out, it’s not so unbearable when I’m not having anxiety attacks over it.

I did have a bit of an anxiety attack last week. Much lighter than before, no breathing short. I got that tunnel vision thing where all negative outcomes seem the most real, and you can’t seem to shake the sense of foreboding or discouragement for the rest o the day, but it passed, and I stayed calmer than I had in the past. I hope soon I will no longer have them at all.

I now think not all of this was about the abuse itself so much as what the abuse made me fear about my life. I actually think most of the long term effects of abuse are probably far more about fear of repeating it than about what actually happened. Difficult experiences pass, but fear can last for years. Just like you don’t experience the pain of getting injured for longer than a few months usually, but the fear of the injury can prevent you from ever doing what led to it again. That’s good if what you did was stupid. If you get in a bad relationship by ignoring red flags, hopefully getting hurt will lead to wiser decisions in the future…but if you refuse then to get into a healthy relationship for the same reason, that’s Fear.

I’ve learned something since last year. I’ve learned that there area people who are what they are because of their issues, and there are people who are who they are despite their issues. And that difference is how you can tell a healthy person who’s trying to heal and grow, from one who refuses to change.

Also, everyone has issues. even people with good families have issues. Issues are part of being sinful humans. That’s why acknowledging them is so important, and it takes humility. I am growing in being able to do that.

With all this, my anger is so much weaker, I hope it will be all gone soon.

I have faith the Lord will guide me out of it, and out of any lingering fear or depression, because already, I feel I see so much clearer than before. But, that feeling may be the biggest sign I have a long way to go, often realizing it’s not the way you thought is just the first tiny step to true understanding.

With that, I think I will close this post, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Brought to you by Webtoon

I had a view from Israel today, my people! (not that they were necessarily Hebrew just because they were in Israel, but the odds are in my favor, right?)

I have to wonder how translate would do with English to Hebrew…? Ah well.

I have been wanting to talk about this, though I run the risk of exposing yet again how big of a geek I am. I mean, surely, only people with no life read Webtoon?

Just kidding. It actually took months for me to be convinced to try this app. Last January a friend recommended it, and I didn’t start reading it till like 7 or 8 months later. I didn’t really think I’d like it…well, now I’m hooked. I have daily updates on my subscriptions.

However, this doesn’t mean I spend all day reading it, the beauty of it is you can go through a few different episodes in 10 minutes, so it’s not an all consuming passion, though I did spend all day going through Lore Olympus to get caught up… and then regretted it because I had to wait a whole week.

I was kind of embarrassed by liking it so much, since I don’t usually read comics, and Spiderman and Mr. Miracle were the only ones that I felt really could be considered higher reading (both of those are very thought provoking, but Spiderman is superior, no offense to any DC fans, just from a written perspective, though Mr. Miracle has the more interesting concept. It just goes to show that any idea can be brilliant if you work it the right way.)

Not all Webtoons are really worth reading, a lot of them are translated from other languages, and the grammar can be sloppy. I still find them cute though, and the best thing is when the values of the story come across even with a language barrier. I read one called “Shoes For Cinderella” that is much like that.

Also, what I think draws (haha) the readers is getting to experience the author’s personality through their art. since Webtoon allows for more interaction between the creator and fans than in older serial comics. Of course, it’s also harder to get paid for Webtoon, but it’s free to use, so it’s a trade off.

I’d write on it myself if I could draw, but I can’t do art for crap, and I don’t do scripted stories well, I am literature all the way. I do enjoy them however.

So, I wanted to talk about a few of my favorites. I will say, most Webtoons are completely predictable, and trite, most of the time. Which is what fans complain about. The average Webtoon is written likes it’s fanfic for an anime. Most artists like anime now, since is does feature some of the best mainstream art available (the art in anime is far better than the script most of the time). However, I will give them credit, I usually find it less disappointing than anime. The stories do progress, don’t always rely as much on tropes to solve their problems, and the art can be more diverse too, if that’s you main concern, it’s not for me.

The ones I like the best are the most like stories, and my top favorite is one that I think actually is just too good as a comic to be translated well into a book or show, and that is the highest worth of praise.

The first one I read was, of course, Lore Olympus.

Lore Olympus Returns for a Glorious and Dramatic Second Season

I read it because my fellow mythology buff friend and sister recommended it, and I liked the development, (the color palette was little hard on my eyes though) and I love a good retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth.

I am not crazy about Persephone, as I find her a little hard to figure out, but Hades is cool, and the retelling is quite creative.

This comic has raised some controversy actually, because of the age gap between the two leads, and the sexualization of it. Some have critiqued it because a rape scenario was thrown in there just so the “hot guy to the rescue trope” could happen.

To be fair, those critiques were earlier on, and were based on what people projected would happen, and I would have had the same concern, but I read it later, so the story-line had already gone somewhere.

What made me stick with the comic was the portrayal of abuse, domestic and otherwise, and trauma, and how it affects you. I could relate to it, as could many people, and to the people trying to help the others out of it. I play therapist quite often myself, as well as ask other people for help.

I do like that girls in the story support each other, though I think more of the men could be better, some are also quite good. More on the topic of abuse later.

I started reading other toons after that. I read one called WindRose that was adorable, then I just kept sampling a bunch. As of now, I still try new ones on a weekly basis.

Not all of them are really worth discussing, but the ones that are unique even for stories are what I thought I’d talk about.

My favorite is Purple Hyacinth, it took a while to convince me to try it, (my sister also recommended) but then I realize it was perhaps the best comic on the app. It’s just a work of art how they draw, do dialogue, and use music and sound to enhance the experience.

Petition · Let's get an animated series of Purple Hyacinth- · Change.org
Kieren and Lauren

But you all know me by now, I’m here for the message, and anyone who isn’t, is lying. Seriously, no one actually is okay with a story having no point (I don’t want to meet them if they are, they sound scary).

Speaking of lying, the hook I absolutely love in this story is that the MC can hear when people lie. Not to give too much away, I won’t explain how or why (we don’t even really know yet) but that in itself was genius. Can you imagine, if you knew when people lied?

The catch is, if the person believes they are telling the truth, she won’t hear it. And it doesn’t give her the magic ability to know the truth, she has to lay the elimination game, so, naturally, she became a detective.

Lauren (the MC) is a great character. I wouldn’t consider her a role model, but it’s easy to understand why she makes the choices she does, ad to want to see more of them. Most Webtoons have very annoying MCs, even if I like the story, but Lauren isn’t one. She’s the right amount of independent, but not invincible, so she needs to get bailed out by her partner, but also can handle herself, by turns.

Kieren, the other MC, is a complex antihero, who seems to regret what he’s become, but is willing to sacrifice his own conscience in order to take down the final Boss in the story. Again, I don’t want to spoil too much, this is really worth reading if you are able to understand English (I know people do translate pages like this, so I can’t assume for sure you can read English). Despite how that sounds, he is neither Deadpool, nor the tragic stoic weirdo that girls think is hot but we all find kind of bland after awhile. Kieran owns every scene he’s in, even in panels. He almost outshines Lauren, but she holds her own. Their interactions are definitely the best part of the story.

Then we have Will and Kym, the side couple, who got more attention than I expected, and I love every minute of it. Kym can actually be my favorite character. She’s basically the definition of chaotic good, and Will is a good foil for her, though e’s the most boring out of the main four. Every group like this needs a straight-man to be balanced.

The Webtoon Community — webtoon: NEW LAUNCH 🚓 PURPLE HYACINTH Her...

Kym is actually the most consistent source of strong morality in the story, which is why she does more than the typical best friend character in a comic. She is the most loyal to her team, the most shaken up when a person ear her dies, and the most compassionate and forgiving despite her boisterous, often provocative personality. She’s a solid character, and I find my self agreeing more with her world view than any of the others.

Pin by Otaku & Gⓐmer on faceclaim | Hyacinth, Webtoon, Purple

So with a such a great premise, and such good charctes, this comic seems destined for success. Id on’t know for sure, since stories ofen drop the ball after a certain point, if they drag onto to long, but not a sinlge scene is theis coic is wasted, so i ahve hope sthey will finish strong.

A little writing tip for any new authors: The best way to pace your story is for every scene to have a purpose. When I write, the comic relief is put in between important dialogue in each scene so that the scene has a purpose, ad when i write action, the only exucse to cut away is to provide more info on wha’t happening that the audience needs to know beofore the fight can commence or continue. Otherwise, it’s just ogont ot ake t hreader out of the story. Hpwever, only pracitce and experience with hone your abilty to spot useless scenes.

An example would be, any scene devoted just to one charcter thinkng about how hot the other is and how they might like them, is a waste. I work that into the middel or end of scenes that actually build the relationship first, and the best comics and other stories i’ve read do the same thing.

There’s other examples, but that might be the msot common.

Anyway, since most of the comic Ir ead are not finished yet, I can’t talk about the enitre thing. But I do think it merits attention when they do something well. The use of red ink to desginati when soemoen is lying in Purle hyacinth, it’s clever. The use of eye color changes in other stories, when it’s sublte, is also clver. Whend one right, it becomes a whoel other experiene than a typical story.

When done wrong, it’s just more exhausting than a book emotionally, with less brain work to shaprne your skills.

I guess it’s sounds like I’m debating the merits of reading comics in general. It wasn’t something I did a lot of growing up, and i don’t consider them to be literature.

The best way to look at a good comic is a hybrid between a book and art, it’s not literature, it’s not just pictures, it’s both. So, it neither had the benefits of reading a true book, nor the same drawbacks of relying just on art to learn. Because, to be real, pictures only will not work for every scenario. But a comic can fit almost any subject.

I have found the comics enlightening in another way though.

Many of them deal with mental health, insecurities, problems with relation to people, and abuse and trauma. One I just found that’s been really good for this is Socializing 101.

They are a little too good to be true, usually. I’ve never had friends who talk to me the way people talk to each other in this, and I can’t talk that way myself. Often, it sounds like reading off the script in a therapist’s office. I suppose because so many people go to counseling and therapy now, it’s becoming part of our vernacular, which is good, because some people who won’t go to therapy may still here some of the same advice.

Still, wish fulfillment is part of most fiction, and there’s worse ways than solid relationship advice.

I had heard most of it already, and I don’t think all of it is actually that helpful in real life, it won’t fix your problem to follow those steps, but it can get you through some difficult moments at least. If you’re a novice, you certainly would benefit from following the advice, such as talking to people about your problem, and taking it easier on yourself, believing you are worth spending time on, and worth listening to.

Some comics put a lot of focus on finding out the truth, handling situations with maturity, and learning to overcome your personal flaws, like a hot temper, usually. And how to be patient with people like that and try to understand them.

And how to choose to date people who treat you right.

this helped me to start getting my head on straight about crushing on people who show no interest in my existence. I think I have always done that because I am more comfortable with no attention, after getting mostly negative attention growing up, and then neglected when I wasn’t being abused directly.

I don’t expect people to like me or want to be around me, but seeing myself in the Webtoon characters, it helped me question it more than just hearing about it had in the past. Seeing these people get talked to , it’s easier to think “maybe someone could see me the same way, maybe people don’t all hate me as much as I think they do. Maybe it is a misunderstanding.”

While it’s not a solution, often the first step is recognizing your perception could be off. And being open to being proven wrong. You got to lose the pride in your own opinion of yourself (and yes, people do take a sort of sick satisfaction in depreciating themselves, it’s very sad.)

I feel that my outlook has gotten a little better. It can be frustrating to read about happiness you don’t have, but the best ones make you realize that you need to believe you can have it, and will have it, if you seek it.

C. S. Lewis wrote that “all get what they want.” All of us, in the end, will get what we want. Whether in this life, or the next. We should be careful to want the right things.

Wanting a healthy relationship is a good start, but many people, honestly, don’t. They like what is familiar.

You see, you think you want someone to really love you, but then you spook as soon as someone shows they might actually love you. I had this experience myself quite recently.

Changing what you want is a step by step process, and can be ungraceful, people who stick with you through it are your real friends.

So, that was what was brought to you by WebToon, hope you enjoyed, I will see if I can link the comics I mentioned in the post, until next time, stay honest–Natasha

A vanishing breed

I am one follower away from 190, how???

This is great. Thank you all for your support.

As a little detour today, I thought I’d take you on a trip inside my world, from an imaginative perspective.

That is to say, I am one of a dying breed in my country and generation, so I think I ought to be documenting myself, you know for posterity.

All joking aside, I’ve slowly realized I have a very unique perception of life, thanks to the very mixed and assorted influences in my formative years, and current years, and it’s given my an ability to exist in multiple settings with a sense of belonging there.

You see, on the one hand, I am exposed to pop culture, the news, and the influences thereof. I can quote vines and memes and songs like most people my age, and use the lingo of the West Coast that has permeated the internet thanks to those sources. Not a big accomplishment.

I actually have to study pop culture, weird as it may sound, because I write characters who are supposed to be savvy in it, and they know more than I would know. Oh, the trials of a writer that we willingly inflict on ourselves!

On the other hand, I was raised with no TV for the first 10 years of my life or so, and limited access to movies for almost as long, I didn’t go on YouTube frequently till I was 12 to 13, and I don’t have Social media to this day in any significant form. So, I get references from books, old movies, old shows, and old songs that mostly “Boomers” are supposed to get.

C. S. Lewis wrote a book “Surprised by Joy” that described how his moral and imaginative life formed, while G. K. Chesterton wrote a good deal in “Orthodoxy” about how his imagination and passion led him to Christianity, and how they were shaped by fairy tales, and fiction, and nursery rhymes.

Reading both these accounts, and others, led me to realize I may be one of the only people in my age group who could even understand what an “imaginative” life in their sense of the word even is, they don’t just mean fantasies, like we mean “wish fulfillment” “sex fantasies” and all that crap. They mean fairy tales, and romance in the older sense of the word.

Romance used to mean, and still technically means, a way of looking at life, that focuses on the feelings associated with certain ideals, and actions, and beauty. It’s dramatic, often nonsensical, serious, playful, and powerful. It’s also virtually unheard of in modern fiction, shows, movies, etc.

If I had to pick a modern example of Romance writing, I couldn’t even think of one more recent than Madeleine L’Engle’s science/supernatural fiction stories, A WRINKLE IN TIME, A WIND IN THE DOOR, and A SWIFTLY TILTING PLANET. I think those are 20 years old at least.

Perhaps more exist, I just can’t think of them. “Beauty” by Robin Mckinley, is like it, and this other story I once read that was a retelling of “The White Bride and the Black Bride”.

The point its, I actually read the old classics, not all of them, or I read books that explained the classics, or imitated their style, so that I was introduced to it in way I could swallow, since like most people, I find classics hard to follow with their older language.

I have read actual Shakespeare though, and it’s not as hard as people think if you have a good vocabulary, as I always have. Thanks to having parents who read to me and had big vocabularies themselves.

And the best preparation for understanding classic is of course, the Bible, as most of the classics of European literature heavily involved biblical imagery and language.

It helps that I stick to the NKJV of the bible, (sometimes I read others, I just like the language better).

All this to say, I have very diverse influences in my life, and I am still adding to it. Being 22 now, and in college, I don’t read as much for fun as I sued to, but I still reread my favorite books at least once a year, and try to check off one or two new classics at least, plus other books I can find. So slowly I am still building my store of knowledge and experience.

I didn’t understand this until the last few years, but I have been very lucky to have that path. Funny, it wasn’t one i chose initially.

When I was about 7 or 8, my mom had already read The Chronicles of Narnia to me and my sister, all the way through, The Little House series, and some other books, and she set me on the path of classics when I asked her if we could read those books again,and she told me I should just read them myself. They were above my age reading level at the time, at least by school standards (flip school standards), and I wasn’t confident in myself yet, I’d never read a chapter book, but that was the day I started. Soon, I could go through them as fast as my mom had read them to us, I am now the faster reader in my family, I’ve read a 300-500 page book in one day, and can read a 150 page book in a few hours, if it’s an easy read.

I could read a 30 page textbook chpater in the hour and a half before class I somtiems left myslef (too little, but I could get away with it).

The experience of a child with no TV and a large library is so different from what’s normal now, that most people, I bet, can’t even fathom what it would be like.

It really wasn’t bad. I feel like I missed very little. i don’t think I’ve ever once expressed regret, even internally, or not being able to watch a show when it was on TV, all the shows I like are usually ones that were out years before I saw them, and the great plus of that is I never had to wait for a new season. Plus, being older, I understood the shows better than a kid would have. I watched the Justice League animated series when I was 10-14, and it was much better being able to understand the harder stuff in it, though I still appreciate even more now.

The idea that you watch a show one time is ridiculous to me, I always reread any book I truly loved. Reading or watching something once seems flaky to me, like a one night stand. You don’t really get intimacy with the material like that, and it seems flippant, like saying you could understand it all the first time. (Bad books, on the other hand you should never reared, understanding more of it is just further punishment)

I think TV shows foster a one night stand attitude in children because they are released episode by episode until it’s exhausting to finish it, and you don’t want to go back an repeat the experience for years to come. Though, some shows are exceptions. Children tend to like repetition more than adults, however, but the habit starts in childhood.

The reason I am laying all this out is to explain why it was different for me. Without TV, getting new entertainment was hard so I reread, or went to the library. I always preferred to read stuff I knew I liked already, so I tended to stick to one author, one series, and one book. Even now, I’m still reading new stuff for the first time from old authors because I liked familiarity so much.

As a homeschooler, I read what was age appropriate from a moral standpoint, my mom never told me a book was too hard for me. I could stop reading it if it was, but I usually didn’t. Up till my teens, I finished almost every book I started, because I had nothing to distract me from them. I now finish only half the books I start usually, unless I give myself less to begin with.

It’s the opposite now. I was talking to my 13 year old cousin last week, and he told me about a book “In The Graveyard” he had to read, last year, I think, and he questioned if it was age appropriate because of the content, not the language, but books are more likely to be assigned based on reading level than content now. I can’t understand why “Diary of a Wimpy” kid is acceptable literature, but “Huck Finn” often isn’t.

I didn’t watch R-rated stuff till I was 20, mostly. My 8 year old cousin has seen more R-rated movies than I have.

It’s a different world, even int he last 2 decades, that’s for sure. But, being homeschooled was also just different.

It’s not being sheltered the way people think it is. I was exposed to hard subjects, sometimes earlier than kids now are, at least, I was exposed in a way that asked me to think about them, not just mindlessly consume them. The stuff I read, and later watched, used moral questions to kids, either directly or indirectly.

My mom never purposely planned that, she just had me read well known classics that would be safe reading, and watch old shows, and the rest was up to the material.

My mom was not a very involved teacher in most of my curriculum, if you could call it that, so I was self motivated. She’d buy books according to my interests, and I’d absorb it all.

In then end, I ended up with a vast array of knowledge about many subjects, even if it was only a little knowledge. I have the ability to join almost any conversation… unless it’s about something that just happened in the present. Go figure.

People tell me I ought to stay informed, I’m too busy delving into the knowledge of centuries ago to waste time on this current century’s unreliable news sources. Just give me the highlights.

I do think it’s important to know what’s happening, but you’d be surprised how much I can learn form getting the highlights, and putting them in a historical context.

I just last week learned that COVID was not the first epidemic in this country or the world that caused circumstances like this, the Media won’t tell you this, but there was a thing called the Spanish Influenza. Arguably, it was more dangerous than COVID because everyone was at risk from it, medicine was less advanced back then, so people dropped like flies. They had quarantine, lock-downs, churches closed, they even wore masks, and were told to get out to the country and stay away from other people.

Yep, it all happened before. I keep hearing people say it never has, and that’s just not true.

My homeschool plan was something called a Thomas Jefferson Education, or TJEd, for short. Basically it consists of teaching students to love learning, and having them read classics, and add disciplined study only much later on. I tied to explain this to my older cousin too, he said he’s never heard it put that way.

It worked for me, I was college ready and then some.

The effect classic fantasy had on me was that I see the world in two ways. I see the world as it is, sort of. As much as one human can see something as vast as the world. I also see the world through the lens of how others have seen it, or wished it to be, or even cynically claimed it was.

A student who lives the average life of a public-schooler now is informed by their parents, their school, and pop culture.

I was made aware of that difference when I was helping my younger cousin with her social studies homework. It was a good assignment, one I would have expected to find in college even, probably a little more complicated though. (You know what the difference between complicated and complex is? Mostly connotative meaning.) The book asked her to explain how people might use stories to tell about things.

In the context, it might be like mythology, we don’t know what happened, so we make up a story to explain it.

People who call Christianity a mythology are not entirely wrong, in that is has mythic elements in it, but if you read the Bible it is not written at all like a mythology, anymore than the Iliad is. It tells about God without using flowery language in its most serious parts, and it’s most poetic when talking about loving and obeying God. Interesting, since people often get that backwards if they get lost in semantics.

While trying to explain to my cousin what a myth was, since she’d had to read one to answer the prompt, I hit a wall. She just didn’t get it. I thought, how could I explain it to her? All the books I could reference, she hasn’t read. All the ideas I have about it is stuff she’s not heard much in her secular household. Finally, I broke it down to brass tacks and had her pick a thing in nature (a tree, if you want to know) and try to imagine what someone who didn’t know what it was might come up with. She said to me “I would know it was a tree.” I said “What if you’d never seen a tree?” She said “I’d ask someone who knew.” I said “”What if no one around you knew?” She said “I’d look it up.” I think she even added “that’s what Google is for.” or something like that, but maybe that was a different conversation. So I said “What if this was the first tree ever and no one had ever seen it before and there was no internet.” She thought for a second, then shrugged, “I don’t know.”

So, I fell on visual aid as a last result, I’m happy to report, after looking at an actual tree, and me suggesting some stuff, she came up with her own idea, and I think she even understood myth a little bit finally. She’s a smart kid, catches on fast.

But, I thought to myself, my little 8 year old cousin could have just summed up our modern approach to knowledge. We think, wither we know, or someone around us knows, or we can look it up. There’s a general feeling that there is not much left to be discovered in this world. And if there is, it’s too advanced for us mere mortals.

Thanks to the GPS and satellite, we no longer have any unknown continents or islands on this planet. Thanks to space tech, we now know what’s in the heavens far beyond our galaxy. Thanks to encyclopedias, internet, and media, we now can hear about anything in less than 5 seconds, if we type in or even ask a key word. There’s nothing done that hasn’t been done.

At least, it feels that way, doesn’t it?

Yet, as Lewis thought, when we get to where we seem to know everything, that is really where we must go back and rediscover the truths that are always there.

The great thing about Christianity, and the reason it has revived so many dying cultures (don’t believe secular history books, Christianity is what keeps cultures alive int he first place, all other cultures die out in a few centuries usually, or are not worth preserving even if they endure longer) is that it is always knew. No matter how many people have climbed up that mountain to find God, every one of us is still he first when we do it. What God says to us is different than what He says to anyone else. God is not repetitive. He never does anything quite the same way. Why would He need to? The course of all creative energy is God, He surely never runs out of inspiration.

Christianity, in my opinion, is the only dam slowing the flood of deadness in this culture, and that dam is never going to break, but people who choose to ignore it are going to get swept away.

Mental illness isn’t going to get any better as long as we cut off all the things that prevent mental illness. We really haven’t learned from history. History tells us that the rich and pampered are often far more given to insanity that the poor and humble. Living in the pressure of the spotlight and having to be both the servant of the people, and yet be served by them almost as if you were untouchable, has driven many rulers insane throughout the ages.

Now, all of us can maybe not be famous, but social media gives everyone who use sit at least the illusion of attaining that goal. It’s not anything like true fame, but it’s just close enough to create the same problems, with none of the potential benefits, unless people truly try to use their power for good.

We can’t all be rulers, but we ca all post our opinions into places where people will only echo them, much like a ruler. We make social media, the comment section, and likes our cheering crowd of peasants. We don’t know their names or faces, but we crave their approval.

You see? It’s not new, it’s just more widespread. And rulers cracked under that pressure a lot, and we’re cracking under it the same way.

I see so many artists and YouTubers owning up to poor mental health. The smart ones take breaks. Others push themselves to exhaustion.

It is what it is. We can’t get rid of this stuff, but not all of us have to rely on it so much.

You might wonder, though, why I think it’s really so important to read, and understand myths, is that stuff really worth the time and effort, it’s not real.

I will say most of it’s more real than people on the internet will ever be. Myths tell hard truths that people won’t own up to when they want likes or subs, or whatever.

But, more importantly, it would save us, if we let it.

I know other people besides myself who have drawn strength from stories when nothing else would help them. God often uses stories, Jesus used them all the time. Stories are powerful. They get inside us.

And good stories only come from the minds of people who choose to look up at the world around them.

It’s important that my cousin only got my point once she looked at a real tree. Just picturing a tree didn’t do it for her. There’s something about the REAL that inspires us more than anything else can.

I was raised on fiction, but it was talking about real stuff, in a language I could understand before I even knew what it really was about. Fiction is the equalizer that makes adults and children able to communicate without barriers. A story can speak to any age, any IQ, any language even.

I see the world through stories, and it’s made it possible for e to draw connections between things that seem unrelated, I have such a rich mental life because of all the way I can connect the dots. I can glean one thing form one book, and it helps me understand the next one better, or retroactively, a new book sheds light on an old one. I can’t say I’ve had that experience with TV or movies. it’s just not the same.

What I believe the difference is, is the TV is too easy, and yet too hard. You see, hear, and it’s handed to you. But it’s so colorful and intense, you miss little details. When it’s spelled out on a page, you catch things that you won’t normally. Your mind interprets it in a way that makes sense to you. You get drawn into the world of the book.

While you can be drawn into a film and show, it’s never as complete as in a book. A book also keeps you conscious of your own experience a way a movie doesn’t. We’ve been warned that our brains accept everything we watch as real while we are watching it, even if we know it’s not real. In a book, that does happen, but you are more aware of it while it is, and you can withdraw more easily.

In the end, I still watch movie and shows, and I believe they are important. They still give you something a book doesn’t.

But for the purpose of fostering a real imagination, you need books. The reason art is so bland and repetitive now is all artists are drawing inspiration from movies and shows. Which just can’t be diverse like books, partly because producers control too much of what gets out there.

Books, though still controlled, are wild cards. You never know where a really good idea will jump out at you even in a mostly bad book. You imagination has to work harder when reading, so of course it gets stronger.

One page of a Lewis book, and I’ll think of 6 different story threads I could write. That’s how good reading is. A show, I might think of one. not bad, if its the one I need, but, I can’t deny what’s better.

I usually turn to books when I hit a creative dry spell. A few chapters is usually all it takes.

The point of this post is , I guess, to read. But the bigger point I was getting at is that we need our imaginations back. They keep us from apathy, depression, and even from fear sometimes. I used to escape fear with imagination, before I learned how to do it with God.

God is still better, but often He has used this method, so, it’s all of a piece.

I hope you enjoyed this post, it was a little all over the place, but that’s kind of fitting. I noticed I lapsed into higher language a lot, I think this topic just brings it out in me. I don’t use a thesaurus when I write, that’s another thing book learning did for me. (And that stupid Grammarly app can suck it. Just read a dang book, don’t let the internet write for you!)

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha

More about MHA ships, and what they tell us about our culture.

Another fun post for me, let’s talk about shipping wars in MHA.

I have strong opinions about this, but if you’re not a fan, this probably won’t seem very interesting to you (then again, who knows, maybe I’ll surprise you.)

What I think it intriguing about the “Art of Shipping” (yes, I’m sticking with that) is when Fandoms all agree about one basic aspect of the ship, and the MHA one is perhaps the one I’ve found this trend in the most, though the Naruto one has the same thing.

Bascially, if you take out the ship haters, and the people who ship anything just because they want to see people kiss/bang, you are left with a few groups of shippers who have actual reasons for liking the ship (yeah, salt). And to my surprise, those odn’t usulaly come in differeent flavors. We all agree onw hat we like about a ship.

To take the top canon ship for example, Dekuraka (Deku x Uraraka), many people find it boring, but those who don’t all seem to agree that the nice thing about it is the anime staple of pureness and puppy love. But even more, people like Uraraka trying to respect Deku’s life by not complicating it (I personally don’t agree with her philosophy of love, but it’s more anime acceptable.)

I don’t have much more to say about that one, since it’s not the one I find most interesting.

I could list after other simple ones, like “Kamijiro (Kaminari x Jiro), Kirimina, (Kirishima x Mina), Whatever the Froppy x Tokayami one is called, and more.

The ones I see the most fan stuff made for are Kamijiro, Todomomo (Todoroki x Momo), and usrprisingly, Kachako (Bakugo x Uraraka). I’m not gcounitn the homo ships because I don’t support them.

But I suppose I should say a word about it.

My overall issue with yaoi or yuri shippers (BL and GL for non weebs), other than my religion, is that I find the ships extremely boring. It’s all about the homo part, and rarely about anything deeper, so there’s not much for me to get into if I see it.

Kirbaku fans at times try to accomplish something deeper, and Tododeku fans, but it’s usually no deeper than “They like each other despite have difficult personalities, or trauma” and oddly, the Tododeku people focus on that less, despite the more canon basis for it, while the Kiribaku venture there usually only for humor. If there are exceptions, they don’t frequent the forums I’m on.

I find homo ships to be shallow for the most part, and I have not seen enough counterexamples to change my mind on that. So, I will stick to the straight ships for my point.

Todomomo is my favorite, or my first favorite ship before I learned about the other one. I liked the dynamic after the episode “Yaoyerozu rising” where most of us got on board that ship. but I also liked the CD drama (semi-canon stuff) because it did what I’ve actually never seen an anime do, maybe why it was snuck into a CD drama.

Todoroki, in said CD drama, actually opens up to Momo, in a nuanced way, about his feelings about his family, though he immediately becomes embarrassed about it. I’ve read that that’s a cultural no-no in Japan. Momo seems to be unsure what to say for that reason, but then tells him she’s not just “Someone else” (like a random stranger) but she’s his classmate. Meaning that it’s okay to talk to her because they have a solid relationship as fellow students.

For anime, that’s about as bold as it gets, and it’s cute.

More importantly, it’s what’s at the core of this ship. The theme of Todomomo is helping each other deal with your past, and your insecurities. Mostly the fans make cute stuff about them building each other up, inspiring each other, etc. But the more hardcore AU (alternate universe) writers have tried swapping their backstories. And seeing how Todoroki does with Momo as the traumatized one. I prefer it as it is, but I find the more different the AUs are, the more it tells you about what the fans agree about. As I said, it’s the theme.

More about themes in a second.

My other fave is BakuCamie (Bakugo x Camie,) which hasn’t gotten a lot of love since Camie has barely been in the show, but the Manga fans are more into it.

What my sisters and I got hooked by with this ship was the potential for shared difficulties. I didn’t really like it at first, because I thought Camie was supposed to be an airhead, but after I did some digging and my sister gave me the pitch discussing it, I came around.

Bakugo and Camie both have the experience of being targeted by the League of Villain solely, instead of in a group. While Camie cannot remember hers, and Bakugo and probably never forget, their victimization led to some of the same things. More people freaking out about the League, and victim-blaming.

We see Bakugo get victim blamed by the media and heroes. Because he is angry so much, they say, the villains are trying to turn him. (At this point, did anyone even know for sure that was their goal? I don’t remember it being stated in the attack). And while typical in anime, it’s pretty sick to blame a 15 year old kid with anger issues and bad parenting strategies, for being kidnapped by villains who already attacked his school once, and who he kicked the rears of so they might very well be out for revenge or to eliminate a threat.

I actually started loving Bakugo in season 3, and I wan’t the only one. Surprisingly, he doesn’t really get mad at anyone for blaming him, maybe since they don’t do it to his face, or because he blames himself too and his mom doesn’t help(I like her, but I would not want to be her kid).

Camie, on the other hand gets victim-blamed by her own classmate, giving us a peek into the very different Shiketsu dynamic than UA’s very supportive class system (pardon my terrible joke). Shishikura is an ass, and I was glad Bakugo kicked his rear in the exam, but he still gloats and looks down on Camie for her “flighty” or ditsy personality, saying she got kidnapped for that reason.

Now, we are presented with a surprising similarity here, Camie has everything Bakugo lacks. She’s subtle where he’s blunt, friendly where he’s antisocial (or shy), and relaxed where he’s a live wire, she’s got all the people skills to be a fan favorite in the hero world, and in the real world, yet… she and Bakugo are both blamed for their personalities.

What the heack is wrong with these people?

I notice that in anime, often it doesn’t matter what the reason was, if you lost, you are a loser. there is no honor in defeat, even if it was the best you could do. If you are wronged by someone, it’s your fault for not being smart enough or strong enough to evade them.

It doesn’t matter that Camie was drugged, and Bakugo was jumped in the woods by a trained magician,

Atsuhiro Sako | My Hero Academia Wiki | Fandom

they should have somehow been able to avoid that if they just weren’t so… them.

Yeah, there’s too many layers of NOPE in that way of thinking for me to even get into without turning this post into a rant, but, it’s very very common for characters in anime to spout that sort of thinking. And it’s very damaging, even in the fictional circumstances.

That being said, the fans have tried to remedy that problem by making Bakucamie about them helping each other heal and gather strength to keep going. Also making each other stronger. Camie smooths Bakugo’s rough edges via humor, making him more friendly, while Bakugo defends Camie from getting attacked by snobs by just being around her. That’s the general feeling…but also, people feel he just gets her, in ways no one else does.

To me it makes sense, Bakugo attracts weird people. Ones who don’t feel like they belong, or are ever strong enough, because just being around him makes you feel stronger. That’s true even for a fan watching the show. We all love Bakugo because he speaks to that crazy side in all of us that we want to be confident about instead of insecure.

See, it’s not about the anger. That’s just the vehicle that makes it funny, also the only way shonen anime know show to do confident characters without making them flat and stoic(prove me wrong), it’s that Bakugo embraces what he thinks, even if it’s not always flawless, and we want to be able to do that.

The reason fans have been drawn to Camie as a shipping partner for him, since her introduction, is because Camie is the same way, only she relied more on humor than anger. But Camie is unashamedly who she is, and blows off Shishikura’s criticism like it goes over her head.

The fans have read into it, however, the suspicion that Camie is not really oblivious, just knows better than to acknowledge priggish slights at her personality, since it only encourages them. We think that her ability to throw shade at Bakugo proves that she is not oblivious, just sly, in a good way.

Actually, Camie is the one who intiatilly suggests the idea that works, jus in the one ar she’s in, and my faoviretie thing about Horikoshi’s wriitng is how he subverts sterotypes. Bakguo is angry, but he’s actually sensitive, Camie is an airhead who’s actuallys mart. It would be in form for him.

I think th emanga has alreayd added to this, but I’ve only watched the show, and manga spoilers woudl be mean anyhow for any fans reading this, so I’ll stikc to fan stuff.

I was surpised, whien I was diggin for more Bakucamie content, to find a theme of deep emotional/ menatl helahty issues. I found a comic about crying that remeind me of a depression uote I saw once:

Not the full strip, you can find it on Google somewhere.

This isn’t the only fan creation like this, I found one about bulimia, and another where Bakugo was depressed. I thought those were extreme, but I noted that the theme is still they help each other, they lift each up, and the make each other better.

And I found way more serious ones than humorous ones, which surprised me because Camie is meme gold, and I expected more fan made stuff about that.

The themes can surprise you, but, I think that it’s telling when a ship spareks the imagination in almost hte dsme way.

It leads me to ask, why?

I mean, people come form all walks of life, with different goals. How is it we see the same protential. To me it means that ships strike our core needs, and that’s why, I often find shippers understand the characters far better than fans who stick stirctlyt o plot.

In fact, when I’ve watched reviewers who focus on plot, and think ships are a waste of time, I usually end up shocked by their take on the character and show’s tone overall.

To be fair, shippers can also ignore a lot of important red flags in order to ship. I ignored those because it really has nothing to do with my point, but yes, it has it’s drawbacks.

I guess it’s also fair to mention that Bakucamie’ does have a red flag in that, Bakugo can be qutie mean verbally. Though, he’s not suuallymean to Camie, but if you want to get in deep, you could arug he’s not really suited to being ina relatinship period.

I’d answer that, irl, I might agree, or I’d at least proceed with caution, but that fans only have the present to work with when they ship, and Bakugo is already growing out of his meanness, so in a few years, he could be totally fine, and we can look ahead. Realistically that ship can’t happen until they graduate anyway.

Todomomo has no red flags and is probably the purest ship on the freaking show (I don’t think Dekuraka is as pure simply because Deku is too self destructive to be attentive to a girlfriend, as of now, imo, but I don’t object to it.)

It’s interesting to note that as stupid as most of us find shipping wars, shipping is one of the only things fans go to war over. Other then political controversy, and problematic content, shipping is the top positive aspect of a show that people fight over.

And with a vengeance.

Why do we care aso much about it?

Like I said in my I ship it! post, Love, even fictional love, is powerful. And we can’t help but get involved in it. I sometimes are about couple I really hate, just because I can’t gt away from thinking love is important.

Often shipping is the biggest focus a story puts on love. Stories that focus on different types, like Violet Evergarden, tend to not create as much shipping controversy.

But what the critics of shippin fail to realize is how much it upholds the basic need we have for emotional peth in a story.

If we focus only on action, and plot, and drama, it becomes stale. I get bored of superhero shows that don’t include relationships.

And parent-child stuff is often made the problem, rather than a good example in stories. Friend-friend is usually better, but more rare. “My Little Pony” stays fresh to the very end because Love and relationships never feel truly old, even if you’ve seen it a hundred times. When a show is built around it, you keep people reeled in. A more grotesque example would be classic soap operas.

For the average show, though, shipping is the main exploration of love, and relationship dynamic. And while you can’t build a show on it, you cannot really max out the potential of any character driven story without shipping. At least, I’ve always felt dissatisfied by one.

Before I close this post, I’ll return to why I think these two ships in particular are important to look at.

Whether they become official or not is not really the pint, it’s that they took the direction they did.

People are really hungry for healing right now, especially after last year. They are drawn to ships that center around characters helping each other be whole and happy. It gives them hope.

Sometimes, too much. Just go on Webtoon sometime and see how important people find this stuff. They say they live off of it… literally.

You learn a lot, that’s the truth. When you can’t get out an talk to people, fandoms sure are a great (and terrifying) place to learn about them.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Welcome 2021

Happy New Year everyone!

It’s that time to do a obligatory post about the New year, how I hope it will be better, and what I want to change… yeah, not to be too “woke” but I don’t really see the point, you can read that anywhere else on the internet, and people talking crap about 2020 also.

2020 was not an easy year for me, as most of you know, but I don’t think the year itself mattered, even if people are just joking about that, I don’t like the idea that a year is just bad. I’m sure it was amazing for some people, and in may ways, my life was still much better overall than the previous year.

My dad was gone for the whole year, thank goodness, and I worked, if only temporarily, more than the prior year. I reached new heights in writing, got some actual fans on my YouTube channel, and of course, a lot of you joined my humble following this year. Plus, I learned how to cook a bunch of new dishes, mostly dessert, and got a car and insurance so I became mobile and much freer.

I also went to therapy and discovered far more about my body and soul than I ever knew before, that part wasn’t fun, bu I look at is as good because of what it make possible in the future.

My health is improving a little more each week, and my emotional state is gradually changing, though it ebbs and flows, I had a bad day yesterday and the day before, today I hope will be better, but it beats a bad week or month. Some of you people also battling mental and emotional problems know exactly what I mean. I hope that if you’re reading this, you are also on the upward slope, but if it doesn’t feel like it yet, I pray you stay in the ring until it does, it will.

So, yeah, that’s my outlook on 2020, nothing particularly profound about it, I just learned it’s better to be grateful.

I guess if the year taught me something, it was that as long as I looked at what I couldn’t do every day because I felt sick or depressed, I would always be depressed. I would always be anxious as long as I thought that was stopping me from doing everything remotely important. But, if I began to count the things I did do each day, even if they were small, and say “My problems didn’t stop me from doing this” then, I began to feel less helpless, and that made me more determined to kick this. I’ve heard similar stuff from others going through the same thing.

It’s really important to know that darkness in your life cannot blot out the light, in fact, it is realizing that that is half the battle of defeating the darkness period. Once you see the light as more important, darkness starts being displaced, it’s amazing.

I still have not gotten a miracle in the form that I envisioned, but I know that there have been miracles in this process, even so, and I hope and believe they will continue into the new year.

It might be interesting to talk about how God views human time, based on what the Bible says.

A lot of people make one of two mistakes about God, they either think He is bound by time the same way we are, and subject to its limitations so that He cannot act outside of it anymore than we can…or, they think that God is outside of time, and therefore, human dates mean nothing to Him.

The second one is closer to truth, but it’s not actually ture, if we pay close attention.

God is outside of time I think the same way a person who stands at the edge of a river is outside the river, you cannot be pulled along by the current if you are outside it, or even just in the shallows. However, if you want to do anything with the river, you will still have to follow its flow.

You have agency in a way a leaf floating down the river doesn’t, however, you can walk back up the bank to any point in the river you like, you can run ahead of it, or you can jump in and float along. But you cannot interact with anything on the river unless you are willing to be part of the flow, or else take that thing out of it. (What you might say death is.)

If God is outside the river, you could say He is putting us in the way you might put a toy boat. You can do it anytime but it will be in the flow until you take it back out. Birth, death, and life, are all like that boat’s journey.

I hope that conveys how God is not bound by time Himself, but since we are, He binds Himself by it in order to speak to us in ways that we can understand, and effect our lives in was that will matter on Earth. David, I believe, said “My life and times are in Your Hands.”

So, in the Bible, God often does use our timeline to order events. He sets a day of rest every 7 days, a year of rest every 7 years, a year of jubilee ever 50 years. Fasts go for 21 days, 40 days, etc. He puts Jonah in whale for 3 days, raise Lazarus after 3 days, and rise from the dead Himself on the 3rd day.

I don’t know why people find it strange that God likes time, who else would have made time but God? I find it pure nonsense to say that timing doesn’t matter.

But we are cautioned not to obsess over it. Paul tells us not to bother too much about what day we observe, and what we don’t, as long as we feel right with God either way. Christians argue (and so do non-Christians) about whether we should celebrate Christmas, Halloween, and other days like that, given the pagan origins.

And the Bible has examples of both choosing not to, and choosing to redeem it by doing something else. I don’t think it matters that much. God probably cares far more if we are kind to each other regardless than He does about a date on the calendar.

It’s not usually the number itself that God seems to find important, it’s the pattern. Certain things come in 3, 4s, 7s, 10s, 12s, and so on. What day on our calendar it is isn’t important, since several parts of the world use different cleaners, the Jewish one is probably the most significant, but I’ve never felt God blessed me less for not using it. It is what it is.

I also don’t really get the point of caring so much you go against the way your country is set up. Like, people who insist on doing it differently just because it used to be that way, even though it inconveniences everyone around them. Do you really think we have the exact calendar God used when He put this in place.

I mean, every year, someone predicts the world will end this year, the Rapture will happen, and we’ll all be out of here, or screwed, if we don’t believe. And none of them every seem to remember that Jesus said that ‘No one know the hour, no one knows the day, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.” See, even Jesus didn’t know when he’s coming back. Just SOON. And the bible says a 1,000 years is as a day, to Him. So, for God, all this time is like 2 days… I think it would be poetic if he came back in the year 3,000. I’m not sure this planet can last 900 more years though. So, hey, what do I know? Maybe he’ll come back 2,000 years from His Ascension and reign for the last 1000. But I’m not saying that will happen. Maybe there will be no pattern so that none of us can possible predict it, that seems to be what Jesus said, he said it will happen when we least expect it. That’s why we are supposed to live as if every year could be the last.

I used to get very upset by that idea, becuase I felt m life was so small, and if God came back now, I’d have wated it.

I think 2020 taught me something else about that too, I’m no longer really worried about it. And this is why:

Turns out, it’s all in the Bible whenever you need it. 1 Corinthians tells us the secret to a full life no matter our circumstances:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not [b]puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is [d]perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

What fascinates me about this chapter is how it turns all our ideas on their heads. But then, the Word always does. All mysteries and knowledge, all doctrine, all clarity, is useless without love. In fact, if you don’t have love, the last few verse imply, you will not have Clarity. Love is the thing we try to see reflected int he mirror, dimly, but the more we know God, the more we will love, and eventually our love will become perfect as His is perfect.

The greatest saints have all basically ended on that note. By telling us that toe be Perfect in love is essentially the same thing as knowing all, and knowing God. That when we Love like that, we will not need knowledge anymore.

Which is why you will find the deepest wisdom even in the simple and mentally challenged individuals on this planet, because they care far less about the differences and offenses the rest of us do, and they just love.

I note that fiction has understood this better than philosophers have (perhaps that in itself is telling). In fiction, especially romances, (especially anime, oddly enough) the smartest characters are not usually the most loving. Often, in anime, one half of a couple is intelligent, but cold; while the other is a moron, but very loving and unselfish, eventually they thaw the other person out. While the trope annoys me, there is some truth in it. The shows, movies, and books, are not wrong to tell us that love is not bound by intelligence, if anything, it’s harder to love when you think you are too smart.

I think of the movie “Forrest Gump” when Forrest, in one of his best moments, tells Jenny “I may not be smart, but I know what love is.” After Jenny had told him he doesn’t, of course if you watch the movie, Jenny is the one who doesn’t know what love is.

Love is too profound for a genius to explain, but simple enough for a child to understand.

And, in this year, I’ve had very little to offer people, except for love. It felt like I was taking theirs more than giving mine, but I tried to stay connected, and show people I cared still, and be available when they needed it. They didn’t always take me up on it, but they knew, I cared.

And love is what I’ve needed the most from everyone this year. I grew up very unloved, thanks to my parents and my own demons, and being isolated. Unconditional love was not available to me, not because my parents set impossible standards, but because they simply didn’t offer love at all, for the most part. It was very sad.

I have forgiven them a lot, and my mom has made steps forward. She’s tried. I am glad of that. My dad probably never will, but I am learning to accept it.

I found that Love is what fills our time. People who have more outwardly successful lives than I do, feel just as empty. My grandma, who is far healthier than me overall, doesn’t get any enjoyment out of that fact. In my suffering, I was still more joyful than my family who are suffering form insecurities of a different kind.

My life isn’t perfect, but there is Love in it. And I really have God to thank for that, it’s still not mostly from the people around me. They do love me, but I’ve learned that isn’t enough either, unless I am looking to God.

So, even if all I was doing was making a dessert, writing a fanfic, blogging, YouTubing, or visiting a friend, if I did it because I loved them, it wasn’t small. At least no more than regular life as it comes to us is small.

G. K. Chesterton thought everything was small, in a way, if it truly meant anything to you. And that’s true in that what you value most you won’t see as a huge burden. Someone sees 500 miles as a long walk just to get fit, but if it’s to get to your family in dire need, no one would call 500 miles a long distance, in fact, no one worth their family would even think of the distance. That’s how love puts things in perspective.

I wonder if that is why people were so miserable in 2020. No love. Am I hitting home yet? It’s kind of sad if I am, but there is hope. Love is always available to us, thankfully.

If I had to pick a closing thought, it might be something I felt God gave to me the other day: I was praying about believing I was healed NOW, even though I did not see it. And God reminded me of the story of Daniel, praying for an answer, and fasting for 2-3 weeks waiting, when an angel shows up and tells him that God answered his prayer the moment he prayed it, but it took the angel a long time to defeat the demon in charge of the region. Daniel is quite amazed by this, but it tell us something we forget all too often.

NOW is now.

But NOW is also not now.

I thought of something else while I was pondering this, or maybe this thought came first, I don’t remember. Did you know that when we see things, we don’t see them NOW, but in the time it takes light to ounce off them and reach our eyes. It’s less than a second, too small for us to possibly measure it, at least without scientific instruments, but it reality, everything you see is as it was a tiny time in the past…

Makes you question everything, doesn’t it?

But I was annoyed by how my astronomy class used that as a reason to discredit our idea of time. how else can we measure NOW but by what we see, when we see it. Nitpicking terms is silly, Now is what we perceive in the immediate, there is no other way for us to measure it.

But this bit of info made me realize that there are in effect two NOWs. The scientific one, and the one that matters to us, our human now.

And I think God has arranged it that way on purpose. It doesn’t mean our perceptions are invalid, because there is too little time for anything to noticeably change between the light and our reception of it, but our body has to wait.

That’s a lot like how prayer works, if Daniel’s experience is any indication. His prayer was answered at once, in God’s NOW, but the time that was present to Daniel was weeks later.

Prayer is answered, now. But it would be a true saying if we said that Now both means when God actually answers it, and when we get the answer. Sometimes it is immediate for us, but most of the time it takes time.

It’ll spin your head if you let it, but in another way, it’s very simple. The way we decide to do something and we say “It’s done” reflects how we see the intention and the action as essentially the same if we are capable of pulling it off. Action movies use that a lot.

I challenge you to think of time a little differently. Intention and completeion, they really aren’t that far away, in God’s view. Just in ours.

In the same way, whatever we decide to do is what will happen, though it sounds hokey. Of course our plans get changed, but by and large, what we achieve depends on what we decide to achieve.

I hope that gives someone hope. That’s why I say 2021 will be a better year, because I have purposed in my heart, as the Word puts it, to make it better. i will simply see it that way, because I decided that.

2020 may have been out of our control, and 2021 is too, but you decide what you have ultimately. Even under tyranny, what you decide still has massive power.

To the new year! Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.