Emptying Out.

You know, recovery can be really sucky.

I experience a lot of mood changes, small things make me want to cry, small things make me want to laugh, more feelings than I’ve ever experienced before in my life go through me in a day, or a few days, after something triggers me.

It doesn’t help that abuse was also tied up with a lot of spiritual things in my life. I don’t envy anyone else who’s experienced it more than me, but even on a small level, it’s doubly disturbing to have human cruelty mixed up with spiritual problems. not that it’s ever not tied together, deep down, even when it’s hidden.

Between times like that, I can feel normal, level, happy. Like my old self.

Now, I don’t know who my actual self is. The one who doesn’t get emotional easy, or the one who gets emotional over everything, or both. Probably both.

I always wondered if my calmness could also be a bad thing, like why don’t I get moved easily? Why do emotional displays annoy me more often than get to me. (Which can still be true.)

Generally, I can empathize more with anyone I feel is trying to improve, but still getting tripped up over their feelings. While people who wallow in it annoy me.

For others, it’s the opposite. they don’t like people who try to stay positive and progress, they like the more “realistic” Everything sucks attitude. Emo anime characters come to mind.

Anyway, I’m not about the self-pity party, but I have to take how I feel seriously at the same time, treat myself with kindness.

A lot of days I end up saying to myself “It’s okay to feel bad, but it’s not okay to let that rule you. You can feel sad, and not be depressed.”

I have to come to terms with the fact that I’m sort of a trailblazer in my family when it comes to focusing on the good stuff, but not ignoring my own needs.

I have a father whose whole side of the family is obsessed with their own feelings, and that is all important to them. If they aren’t happy, no one can be. Everyone else is to blame.

And I have a mother who’s side of the family is about never talking about your pain or anger, and always soldiering on. Even if it means losing connection and communication with your family members. They go silent, and you freeze to death.

Where does that put me?

Well, the good thing about two opposites as parents is you end up seeing the pros and cons of both and if you try, you can find a different way.

Not ignoring my feelings can be a problem though because it is very hard not to dwell on thoughts and feelings that are negative for me. It was never modeled for me as a kid, and neither was positive self talk.

Here’s where I find myself. Two feelings are at war in me almost all the time, almost every day. One is negative, sadness, anger, anxiety, etc. The other is positive, joy, gladness, hope, triumph over the battles, love even.

Love is odd too, it runs very high sometimes. I think it’s a way to take my mind off myself.

I’ve been told to watch that Inner Critic, that it’s a big part of being stuck in an abusive cycle.

But I don’t have a very strong Inner Critic, I haven’t for a while.

When I get down, the thing that goes through my mind is more:

“God loves me.” “I love you.” “I love this person.” “I will not be ruled by my emotions.”

Sometimes another voice starts up “How do you know you’ll ever get better?” “Maybe this is the rest of your life.” “Maybe you are crazy.”

I guess if I am, everyone is. Crazy people aren’t the ones who hear stuff in their minds, they’re the ones who are dumb enough to believe it when it tells them bad things.

Going mad can be a choice. Giving your ind over to darkness is a choice. If at some point it ceases to be a choice, it’s because you gave in too much.

Yet anyone who can become a Christina at least can become sound in their mind again, according to Romans (5 I think).

Humans have survived great suffering, even torture, with their minds intact because they would not give in to it.

The process of Recovery can feel like an emptying of everything. For better or worse, something that was always in your life is now gone. Probably for good.

When you are emptying out, certain temptations become hard to resists (The Screwtape Letters covers this well).

Sexual temptation is big for many people. For me its more the temptation to dwell on romance. It could easily turn into pitying myself because I don’t have it, but I try to just enjoy watching it, seeing any kind of healthy love.

I guess I internalize healthy depictions of romance and parent-child relationships because I know I have a void of examples in my life, and I need to fill it.

I notice I’m not the only one. There’s a YouTuber I watch who loves good parents in fiction and sweet, touching moments because they know they didn’t have that, and they want to learn to be a better kind of parent.

You don’t have to have seen a good marriage growing up to see a better dynamic on TV or in a book, and know it’s the real deal. The classic Pride and Prejudice evens mentions Elizabeth’s ideals of marriage are not based on her own parents. Jane Austen got it.

I also am a more open shipper, I don’t have a “ship type” like edgy boy and upbeat girl (though I enjoy those, often.) I try to glean a lot of different examples from all kinds of couples, I don’t know what my marriage will look like yet, you can learn a lot form fiction.

I find as I feel empty, it’s best to focus on good things.Wholesome things.

You give out what you put in. I’m drawn to shows about overcoming emotional problems, neglect, and abuse.

In fact, just to really expose myself, here’s a list of the stuff I’ve been watching since my dad moved out:

Fruits Basket (in the process, actually)

Naruto (ugh)

MHA (aww)

RWBY (err!)

Fairy Tail

Lovely Complex (great show)

Say I Love You

Instant Family (movie)

Married at First Sight

She-Ra

Dragon Prince

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Miraculous Ladybug

Fruits Basket again

There’s more, believe me, but just on that list, anyone notice how many of those shows deal with the topic of abuse and emotional growth? Pretty much all of them.

I have a type.

The thing is, going into most of these shows, I had no idea they would be like that, it just happened.

This happens in my life a lot, I’ll start learning about something important, and suddenly everything I watch and read will be about that, not because I typed in in some search engine, it’ll just turn out that way.

I think it’s a Divine Gift. A way for a girl to grow who never had a lot of good mentors in her life to help her.

And it is possible to be shaped by books, movies, and shows, anyone who says different is lying.

Music too. I mean I started listening to Skillet in just the past year, and a lot of their songs are about that stuff. And the Oh Hellos.

Focusing on all this is a way to not feel so alone in my experiences, and as I can’t exactly join a support group right now, that’s good.

There’s more to the process of moving on, but I think I’ve said enough for one post.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

 

Normal?

Today I’m feeling better… I got in touch with a therapist, set up an appointment, fingers crossed.

You know, though, Anxiety and Depression is very frustrating for me. I’ve dealt with them my entire life, and the only time I have been free of them is since turning my life over to Jesus. Yet, periodically, they come back. Always in a different guise. School, sickness, emotional issues.

In times of stress, like currently, when my family life is rough, I didn’t always feel depressed before, but it’s like there’s nothing else, so my mind goes to that.

Being worry free can actually be outside my comfort zone.

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I read that one thing people with Depression feel is Self-Loathing. I always thought that meant I hate who I am, and I used to, but Id on’t any more. I don’t always love myself, sometimes I am downright frustrated with her, but I wouldn’t say I hate her.

Only, I’m noticing, the times I’m more frustrated with her, are when I feel anxious or depressed.

It’s not enough to just feel bad, I feel bad about feeling bad. I feel like I should know better. Like it’s a waste of time. Like if I could just stop focusing on it, I’d be fine.

Come to think of it, that’s what my parents always told me. Well, it was either that, or telling me how much worse they had it than me, and how they considered suicide, etc. Not exactly reassuring.

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It’s easy to see suicide as some kind of quick fix, if you lose sight of what’s important in your life. Right now, that’s tempting for me to do, because it looks like I’m experiencing a lot of what my dad experienced. It’s been ages since I had a really good experience with God, saw a real breakthrough, and my finances are not great, plus my family is a mess.

All of those things are things that caused my dad depression. He indulged it, it cant be said he really tried not to feel that way. My dad never worked proactively on his emotions, he just tried to remove stressors. I wonder if he feels better now that we are out of his life, as a huge stressor for him. My mom thought he might be relieved.

Well, good, I thought. So am I.

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So, I’ve found myself in my dad’s position. Things are a little less desperate. I’ve not had quite the same level of trouble as him, but it feels much the same.

My dad does not like being happy. I do, but I can feel uncomfortable with it, like I can’t trust it. Misery was company so much of my life, what do I do without it?

Yet, I could see potentially there being a plan in this somehow. I have dreaded becoming like my dad. It’s why I hate the idea of having depression, but why does that scare me so much? Is it because I saw it ruin my dad for being in our lives, and he was never happy, and he was always angry at me?

It’s like for me, there is no in between, if I have it, that’s the end of my life as I know it. I’ll never, ever be able to be normal. It couldn’t just be a phase.

Out loud, that sounds dumb. Many people move on from depression. Many only have it as a phase. Those who don’t can still learn not to be ruled by it. Knowing that doesn’t make me feel any better, it feels like a rationalization.

I have always felt like there is something wrong with me, deep down. It seems to be a weakness common to human beings to feel, especially women, but in my case it makes sense. I was treated like there was something wrong with me since I was a baby.

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#relatable

Always blaming myself for the lack of love in my life. Always afraid I was just too wrong to be happy, or fulfilled. On and on the cycle goes.

I used to try to fix that by self-improvement. When that didn’t work, I gave up on it and tried to move toward accepting myself. When that still didn’t quite do it, I thought I should move to focusing on God. Then to trying to enjoy life.

All the while, walking around with the emotional equivalent of a hole in my chest, spilling all the hurt out.

What could I do? It was hard to explain this to anyone. People praised me for how joyful I was. I thought I was.

I think, I am too. Sorrow does not suit my nature. Though I can describe all this, it might surprise you to know how little of it I can easily stay in. Half a day at most. It’s not easy for me to stay sad. It is easy to worry about being sad.

Anxiety is the sneaky agent of losing joy. It sneaks in when direct sadness would alert you too much to the attempt.

I get so furious at myself for feeling bad, and then I start this inner dialogue of all the reasons I don’t really feel bad, and if I’d stop thinking like this, I’d be fine.

What if I just had a reason to be sad? What if my parent’s response was not always to say I should just choose not to feel that way, but to listen? And listen without trying to fix it with cheap advice. Just be encouraging and kind. I do not even know what that feels like–well, I had one friend once who got it. But I moved and we got out of touch.

I have always found it hard to just feel feelings, without panicking because I feel them. I am not a very emotional person, that could be because I am terrified of emotions. They seem so uncontrollable, and I never had anyone who would pick me up if I fell apart.

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I expressed this fear to my family not too long ago, and they had no answer for it. Nothing. No reassurance they would be there for me if I did. I have been hanging on by my fingertips it feels like.

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God has been my outlet. I could cry and rage to Him, and not feel He could not handle it. Lately that has not been so easy to do. All the suppression seems to be reaching my prayer life too. I can sit an roll the problem over and over gain in my mine, never learning anything about it, but I can’t just cry it out, rage, and maybe feel better.

Oh, gosh, I actually do need therapy don’t I?

Evolution of the Big Brain
It’s kind of hitting me this week that all this isn’t normal.

 

The thing is, I didn’t choose to be this way. I’ve tried many, many times in my life to open up to my family, and to other people. With the same result of being brushed off, and shut down. No real help in learning how to process emotions well. I was fortunate to have an outlet, I was able to get this far because of grace.

But, if people do that to you, eventually you pay the price. It makes me angry, like, you all screwed this up, took out a loan from love that you couldn’t repay by making yourself depended on us for you happiness, but I’m the one who’s paying back that interest.

Somehow, it’s easier to blog this than it is to say it. I hit the same roadblocks when I try to talk, like “you just can’t say that in this house.”

 

Err, how am I going to do therapy?

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Well, I pray that’ll be worked out in time. The COVID crisis isn’t exactly helping, face to face is out, and I prefer that. But I don’t think I can wait till it’s available again.

One thought that does sometimes help, even when I feel helpless, is this:

I did not choose to have this happen, to be pushed into this dark hole, but, I can choose to leave it.

I can do what my dad didn’t, and try to get out. Early on in life. (Well, he did, but he didn’t address the real problems.)

The last year has felt like one long test to see if I will become like my dad, and do the things he did, I keep choosing not to. Lately, when I hear the same crap coming out of my mouth as he used to say, I think “This needs to change too.”

I hope that this is the right way to go about it.

Well, I guess therapy will give me something new to post about. Who knows, maybe I can help some people understand it better?

(I mean, you don’t have to talk about it, but I tend to talk/write about everything, I don’t really care much whether people know or not, once I commit to something.)

With that, I think that’s about all. Hey, thanks for reading my basically venting-about-my-life post, stay safe and healthy–Natasha.

Those who make them are like them.

I have another post about abuse today.

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

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

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

That reason is Idolatry.

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

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

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

In my family the False Image was My Family itself.

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

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

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

Our family should make music

Our family should be more hospitable

Our family should all go tot he same church.

Our family should be a witness to the extended family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, we’re so spiritual, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I digress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you trust in money, you become a miser.

If you trust in drugs, you become an addict.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One last thought

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

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

So, it’s okay to move on. Really.

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

Answer to what someone said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time–Natasha.

What’s Your Name?

“Who can give a man this, his own name?” –George MacDonald. (Unspoken Sermons.)

Hi, I’m back today with a much more mystical subject than I’ve been covering, (and by the way, mystical is not the same as mythical, mystical can be real, but very hard to understand unless you are a Mystic.)

What brought this on was recently watching the Anime Best Picture winner “Your Name.” I was both skeptical and hopeful when I heard about it, and so my siblings and I decided to try it out. We’ve only discovered we like anime over the last year or so, and we’ve been slowly trying different kinds. (I seem to like Slice of Life best aside from the shows I’ve gotten into.) I loved Koe no Katachi, a different anime movie, so I thought, what the heck?

And I thought Your Name was one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen, from a visual and story perspective, though not without its flaws.

However this is not a movie review, watch it if you’re into that sort of thing, otherwise don’t bother, if anime turns you off. But the concept of the movie was something I did want to talk about, because part of what  I liked about it was how similar it was to other things I’ve read, and it’s mostly read, since I’ve seen few movies tackle the subject.

The movie centers around a couple different ideas which I’ll list here for clarity before breaking them down.

  1. The idea that Love transcends Time and Space
  2. The idea that there’s power in knowing someone’s Name.
  3. The idea that people are destined to meet, despite whatever impossible obstacles seem to stand in their way.
  4. The idea that time is interwoven, not just a long line of events.

The first two are the most important, and the ones I feel the most informed of, if you could call it that.

I happen to be a fan of Madeleine L’Engle’s first three books in the Wrinkle in Time series, my favorite out of the three is “A swiftly Tilting Planet,” it’s amazingly complex for such a short book, and it focuses on Joy, and Love, like all three of the books do, as well as Time Travel.

What’s interesting about it is that just like in “Your Name” the boy in this book time travels by going within someone else. Only it is several different people and all male. Also he other person’s conscious remains. he just blends into it, giving them help when he can but only subtly. they can’t know it’s him or it would scare them too badly. It is not possessive, but sharing, like a passing traveler.

The boy, Charles Wallace, goes within for the same reason Taki in the movie does, it is to redeem people and save others. There is a disaster int he book that is going to wipe out the world because of an evil man, and he has to redeem the parents of this man and save some of them also. Taki has only to save an entire town, but it proves just as difficult.

Interestingly, both stories share the theme of someone forgetting quickly as soon as they come out of it, what happened. Only, instead of Charles Wallace forgetting, it’s Meg who is only helping him by a sort of telepathic connection they have (more spiritual than mental) and because she is not there, it fades from her mind. Like a dream. Other characters in the book have dreams that are actually from Charles Wallace’s life, while he is within them.

I find the similarities astounding.

Here we have the idea that lives can be shared across time and space, and it is because of love, joy, and the need for salvation (in every sense of the word) that it happens. We have the idea that our spirits are not bound by time, space, or our minds. Because Meg’s mind may not be able to retain it (her brother has a rare mind that is able to, not many people do) but her heart and spirit can. In the movie, the two people’s minds are only able to remember for a short time what happens, but their hearts and souls remember always.

It’s actually a common idea in Japan that people can be connected and share sorrows and joys, especially with lovers. And the idea is actually not unbiblical. I’ve heard stories of people sharing feelings or some other kind of connection in the spirit, or even physical pain.

But and even more important thing (at least for the average person who probably won’t expereince that kind of trascendential existance in this life) is the second thme. The power of names.

I again turned to L’Engle, this time her second book int he series, A Wind in The Door. In this book Meg learns more about her task in the universe (in Church we would call it spiritual gifting or calling, the secular world also calls it a calling, rather mockingly, but also with some seriousness.) It is to be a Namer, and she does not get it. She asks her teacher about it:

Meg: “Well, then, if I’m a Namer, what does that mean? What does a Namer do?”

Proginoskes: “When I was memorizing the names of the stars, part of the purpose was to help them each to be more particularly the particular star each one was supposed to be. That’s basically a Namer’s job. Maybe you’re supposed to make earthlings feel more human.”

He goes on to explain that their enenmies, the Echthroi, are trying to destroy the world by doing just the opposite:

“I think your mythology would call them fallen angels. War and hate are their business, and one of their chief weapons is un-Naming – making people not know who they are. If someone knows who he is, really knows, then he doesn’t need to hate. That’s why we still need Namers, because there are places throughout the universe like your planet Earth. When everyone is really and truly Named, then the Echthroi will be vanquished.”

In “Your Name” the problem is not that the characters forget who they are, but that they forget each other, every time the barrier of time is reinstated between them, they forget. And eventually forget even that there was a person they were trying to remember. Though they have a vague idea that they are always searching for someone or somewhere or something. Because they cannot remember the name they don’t know who each other are. It echoes L’Engle’s idea so closely, it’s bizarre.

Knowing your own name is important, so is knowing other people’s. But why?

George MacDonald had some very profound thoughts about this, in his Unspoken sermon about names he notes that the names we give each other are just shadows of what a real name is, since the real name, that God will give us at the end of time, is one only he and we will know, and only that one person will have.

“The true name is one which expresses the character, the nature, the being, the meaning of the person who bears it. It is the man’s own symbol,–his soul’s picture, in a word,–the sign which belongs to him and to no one else. Who can give a man this, his own name? God alone. For no one but God sees what the man is, or even, seeing what he is, could express in a name-word the sum and harmony of what he sees.” 

(Link to the full sermon here: http://www.online-literature.com/george-macdonald/unspoken-sermons/5/)

Taki and Mitsuha are not names that sum up who they are exactly.

Mitsuha means “third leaf” and is similar to her grandmother’s, mother’s and sister’s names, which are first leaf, second leaf, and fourth leaf, in that order. It symbolizes he place in the story as a carrier on of tradition, but not her personality.

Taki means waterfall or water plunging. He does plunge into water in a sort of vision in the movie, and that is when he is able to save Mitsuha and her village by switching with her one last time. But it doesn’t sum him up.

In the end, that’s not really the point. The names in the movie do just what MacDonald points out our human names for each other are meant to do, identify us to ourselves. Help us distinguish each other, honor each other, and of course, remember who is who.

But as MacDonald and L’Engle both point out, there’s a higher reason for names. Names carry our identity.

My full name (which I don’t use on this blog and won’t actually give here for privacy reasons) mean “joy/rejoicing, Christ’s Birthday, and guardian/one who guards or protects.” If you knew me in real life, it makes sense. Even on this blog, it makes sense.

I’ve been told many times my name was no accident. Not everyone is blessed with a good name. In India many girls are cursed with a name that means “unwanted” there’s a group that takes in some of these girls and allows them to legally change their name into something better. If your name has absolute no positive connotations, I’d suggest you consider going by something else, but most names do have some good meaning.

Why is it important?

It might surprise you.

In the Bible a lot of stress is put on names, I’d say more than almost any other religion. Names are seen as so powerful that priests could not even write the full name of God because it was so holy, they abbreviated it to “Yah.” The bible doesn’t actually say not to write God’s name, that I know of, it’s more of a Hebrew culture thing added later, but that is how seriously they take it.

The second commandment is not to misuse the name of God. Sadly, even Christian often don’t take this one seriously.

But even so, other names have power. Abigail’s husband Naboth, who disrespected King David, name means fool. Sometimes bible names come to mean that thing because of the bearer (I think Ruth is like this, it mean friend), but Abigail tells David he is just as his name suggests, meaning it already meant that and his parents clearly sucked.

Judah means “praise,” and David was of the tribe of Judah, as was his son Solomon, both of whom wrote psalms and considered worship to be very important.

Jesus means “deliverer”, Emmanuel means “God with us.”

The list goes on and on and on, any important Bible figure almost always has a name that connects to their purpose. Noah means “rest or peace”, Jacob means “usurper”, Moses means “drawn out”, and if you know their stories, it all makes sense.

But even more importantly God himself tells us names are important.

Phil 2:9 “Therefore God has also highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.”

In Exodus 3:15, He tells Moses his name is I Am Who I Am (Yahweh) “This is My name forever.”

Google verses about names if you want an even more in depth list, but even this tells us names can be eternal, and higher, and powerful. Names mean authority.

Heck, everyone knows this, think of even a couple hundred years ago when black people had “slave names”, names usually not in proper English, that they would change when they were freed or they would finally get a last name like a legal citizen would have. Changing the name was a sign of being able to be though of as an intelligent human being. Even before they really were, by most people.

Even in fiction, every writer knows, names are important. My character’s names always come to me, and then unless I use them, no other name will stick in my head. After awhile I started looking up the names when this happened and was shocked to discover that (at least when they were real and not made up ones) each name had a meaning that matched the purpose I had for the character, and something about their personality too.

Even when we don’t know a meaning, a name has immense power. There’s a whole cultist idea about this, but let me say, names don’t dictate everything. They help, sure, but you still choose what you do with your name. So don’t worry about it if your name has a personality associated with it that you don’t like. (I prefer not to look into that stuff at all, I stumbled on some by accident. It was scarily accurate in some ways, but wrong in others. No one can fully predict who you will be except God.)

Well, this ran long because of all the quotes, but it was interesting. I hope it inspired you to go look up what your name means, it might surprise you. And until next time–Natasha (Christ’s Birthday.)

Footloose (and what it says about mourning and dancing.)

The movie that defined a generation, right? An oldie but goodie?

Well, they did a remake in 2012 I believe, and I watched it and it sucked. So I was looking forward to seeing the original masterpiece. And it was basically the same as the new one.

Except I have to say, the cast made the original. Kevin Bacon and his best friend really get you through.

But if the movie defined a generation, I’m concerned. The teens in the movie do some really reckless, stupid things, and they don’t really explain why they thought it was a good idea.

But in the end Kevin Bacon makes a good speech with a good point, one I’ve been thinking about this week.

He convinces everyone that dancing is biblical. Which it totally is. I don’t give much for denominations, I figure, each to their own as long as it’s not against God’s word; but the no dancing trend in the 80s and in some churches still really gets my goat. The Bible says to praise God with dancing, David danced, Miriam led the Hebrews in a dance after they left egypt, and Ecclesiastes says there is a time to mourn and a time to dance.

I have no problem with dancing as long as it’s clean.  In fact some people consider it part of spiritual warfare to dance.

Biblical dancing is the best because you don’t have to be good at it, you just make it up, God doesn’t care. No one else does either if their heart is in the right place.

I just got done with VBS (VAcation Bible School) at my church, and there’s never been so much dancing and enjoyment at any VBS in my memory and I’ve been going to them and participating int hem since  I was 8 or 9 years old. sO I have a decade under my belt. The kids were loving th music, and so were the leaders, we all felt celebratory.

It was simple, but that was fine. It didn’t need to be big, the point was that the kids were just enjoying God, and so were the adults.

And for me personally, it marked the anniversary of my cousin’s death. I’ve spent a year in mourning you might say, though I didn’t go all Footloose with it, and now it seems like the time to dance.

Actually, you can dance all the time as a Christian, because our joys and our sorrows tend to intermingle. That’s our life. And it’s not a bad life. Not if you believe it’s just the shadow of things to come.

People really want to live forever nowadays. Or they don’t want to live at all. It seems to be one or the other. And I think for both the reason is they don’t believe in heaven. Or if they do, they believe in it as this abstract ethereal thing that hopefully exists, but it has no bearing on the rest of their lives. Even Christians fall into this.

But how does a heaven like tha fit into Jesus’s instructions to bring heaven to earth? In the Bible heaven is the place filled with the presence of God.

LEt me unpack that a bit. We in the church always talk about “the presence of God” but do we understand what we’re saying? How is it different then just saying God?

It’s complex. We believe or are supposed to, that God is so vast he can’t fit into our perception, so when He is with us, it is never fully all at once there, or it would overwhelm us. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 that we see dimly as through a glass. Like a telescope you might say. We look at God as something far away that HIs SPirit makes closer and bigger to us, but if we were close enough to see him clearly without the telescope, we would burn up. (Like the sun or a star.)

The presence of God refers to the amount of him we can sense and recognize. Though it is not the God only gives us a piece of Himself, when you get God, you get all of Him,  Just like the 1 John says whoever has the Son has the Father also. (And therefore the Spirit.) Only God could make himself both small enough for our minds to hold, and large enough to fill our bottomless void of needing love.

That said, heaven is the Christian’s dream, or it should be. Because in heaven our mortal limitations will be removed and we will be like Christ. Paul said “I will know even as I am known.” The Christian wants nothing more than to know God as well as God knows him or her. To finally have more than enough understanding of God.

We can’t have that here, but we are meant to be getting ever closer to it, because our eternal life doesn’t start in heaven, it starts on earth.

And that is why we say “Let heaven come to earth.” And goodness knows this earth needs some heaven.

To get back to the topic of dancing, mourning is at bottom not a part of heaven. Rejoicing is part of heaven. If anyone decides to embrace mourning as the truth of life, they have given up hope. And we shouldn’t do that.

If you’ll pardon me for using as superhero yet again as an example, I would point out Batman as someone who embraces mourning as the fuel for his fire. The only thing giving his life a purpose is his grief and anger.

Happy people puzzle cynical people, have you ever noticed that? And they annoy them. And they make them envious.

Now if someone is depressed, I know the answer isn’t as simple as just saying you perceive things the wrong way, but realizing that there is another way, and there is more to life is the first step toward wanting that for yourself, which is a step toward getting it.

And those of us who are already fairly contented with our lives, we need to celebrate that, dance, sing, have a party.

Until next time–Natasha