Rediscovering Intimacy: Darling in the Franxx

Whew! I have been looking forward to writing this one!

Darling in the Franxx - Wikipedia

Let’s talk about this anime: Darling in the Franxx.

I heard about this from an AMV of all things, and someone in the comments gave me the title, so I looked it up, liked the reviews, and decided to check it out. Then my sister, who I convinced to join me, told me “Oh, I heard this whole show is one big metaphor for sex.” I was surprised since the review I watched never mentioned this (nor most of the plot) just the ending. But I said the reviews were so positive, I was sure it couldn’t be just sex jokes, people said it was deep and moving. So, both my sisters agreed to try out one episode.

Spoiler Warning now, I will be talking about the end and all major plot points:

So, episode one did confirm all my sisters thought, and I was kind of grossed out. They refused to watch any more, but I was still convinced it had to get better if so many people who weren’t even anime fans liked it. So, weeks later, I finally picked it back up, and within about a week, I both finished it and convinced them to watch the end with me, my younger sister actually got more interested because I watched a back story episode and she paid attention and decided it was interesting.

By the end, we all liked it, and actually had no complaint about the ending, which was a rare opinion among the fans, I already knew.

I tend to run long with reviews, so I decided not to bother giving a full synopsis of the show’s plot here, trust me, the plot is the weakest element, and the end was all over the place.

But what is worth talking about is the themes, pacing, and characters themselves.

Fun fact, this show is not based on a manga like most anime, it’s actually original.

One of the best epidsoes is the backstory of MC Hiro and 2nd MC Zero 2, it’s the first anime epsidose I’ve seen with a split narrative throughout the whole thing and it was very skillfully done even by my American standards (as it’s far more common here).

The characters

So, the characters of this show, who I will not be able to spell all the names of, sadly, are a cast of kids who pilot special mechs that are designed after weird bug monsters, typical anime stuff. The mechs need a male and female pairing to operate, and the teens are basically organized into different types of ships. We have

Goro and Ichigo– the competent pairing (you’ve seen it plenty of times in anime)

24 Goro x Ichigo ideas | darling in the franxx, zero two, anime

Miku and Zorome–the old married couple, who bicker constantly and are often immature but would rather do that with each other than get along with anyone else.

8 Zorome (Darling in the FranXX) HD Wallpapers | Background Images -  Wallpaper Abyss

Eventually after some partner swapping, we also have Kokoro and Mitsuru

Mitsuru and Kokoro – The Best Part of Darling in the Franxx – Objection  Network

And we have Ikuno and Futoshi, who are the only non-ship partners (she’s supposed to be gay, he gets married to someone else later.)

Darling in the FranXX (Ikuno, Futoshi (Darling In The Franxx)) - Minitokyo

Lastly, of course, we have Hiro and Zero 2, who I think the show believes are the pervy couple, but they really aren’t.

Darling In The Franxx Wallpapers - Wallpaper Cave

The whole confusion kicks off after Hiro fails to be able to pair with his old partner, Naomi, and she’s taken away from their home, she comes back later though.

Naomi | DARLING in the FRANXX Wiki | Fandom
Naomi

So, these are the pairings we have to work with and analyze, like most multi-ship animes, the show uses the different personalities and dynamics to show different ideas of romantic or friendship love. Over time as they develop emotions and affection for each other, the friendships get stronger, though feelings get more complicated, and they become more of a family than a plantoon (squad? What’s a ten person soldier group called?)

We see the kids mature, and resolve conflicts that arise form having emotions. They start to realize people aren’t perfect if they have feelings, which is why the Adults on the show have chosen to shut down all their feelings, but by the end the kids understand that to not have feelings is really not to be living at all, it’s not to be human at all.

This anime offends me less in the “not having answers to its own problems” complaint I usually have, because the kids are starting from the ground up, and have no resources to teach them morals or philosophy, you wouldn’t expect Socratic answers from them, just gong off feelings and their own logic is all they can do, and their logic isn’t so bad considering.

What makes Hiro different, we are told, is that he asks questions, what attracts him to 02 is that she also fights the system of cruelty and apathy that he hates so much but doesn’t understand how to leave. He’s just a kid when they meet, but they promise to be together forever. Which the show appropriately acknowledges as marriage.

02 is embittered by eyars of mistreatment as a living experiment from a very sick doctor (who is still somehow not the villain) and being told she’s a monster. She starts off as a very uncaring, sometimes psychotic seeming character. While she clearly is drawn to Hiro, she doesn’t realize who he is, and tries to use him to get her goal.

She had the most complex character, I would say. While we don’t approve her behavior, we see how ears of being told you’re a monster, and forced to act like one by being sued a s a weapon, and given men to literally drain the life out of, without anyone seeming to care about it, would twist someone pretty bad. She shows signs of guilt, but is unable to change just because the team calls her a monster. It takes Hiro thinking that for her to realize what she’s done, but she still doesn’t stop because she thinks she’s lost it all already.

Hiro then realizes he has to be with 02, even if she’s done some bad things, because she is still a person who he loves, and he wants. So, he forgives her, and she finally accepts his love. Then the 2nd half of the story begins.

Along the way, we deal with Ichigo having feelings for Hiro, and having to accept he won’t be hers, which is hard when she’s never had love before, and doesn’t see other options, though Goro loves her. And Mitsuru and Kokoro begin to develop a relationship also. Culminating in them getting married, torn apart by the Adults, and then eventually getting back together and having a baby.

The characters are not extrmeely intersting in of themselves, but they are human and likable. I didn’t expect a whole lot since there was so many, but they all did what they needed to for the plot, and it’s not a long enough show to spend as much time as MHA or Naruto on developing personality ad backstory for everyone, the pint it the expereinces they share, and what they do with them. Sci-fi anime tends to focus more on that then on individusla, form what I’ve seen.

Themes

Okay, this is the strongest aspect of the show, and I want to try to stay on track here, there’s a lot I could talk about.

First, the elephant in the room: Sex, is the show really about sex?

Yes, and no.

I would not show any kids this show, the innuendo isn’t really the problem because it’s mostly non visual, but there are scary, gory elements I didn’t have an easy time with myself.

That said, if you’re a parent looking this review up to see if it’s okay for kids, just watch it yourself first and decide if your kids can handle it.

I’d say young teenagers are more at risk of missing the deeper themes and just watching it for the sexual innuendo, and probably young adults too, to be honest.

I mostly don’t get turned on by animation, it’s just not real enough for me to be effected, it bothers me more in live action movies, I try to avoid highly sexual ones. But a 2D character? They don’t look like a real person. So, I can watch most anime and only be grossed out by the idea of it, not tempted to actually look. But this is a specific trait of mine and I am cautious recommending anime to other people who may have more of an issue, as clearly plenty of otakus don’t have any difficult sexualizing 2D characters (ew).

So, if you do have a problem with it, this may not be the show for you, at least int eh first 3 episodes, it gets better after that.

The show is about sex. It’s like one long Sex Ed class, there’s metaphors for infertility, deep intimacy, compatibility, DNA, and possibly STDs, though it was unclear. A lot of the language has double meanings.

However, on the other hand, none of what it says about Sex is really wrong. The show is not promoting immorality, or promiscuity, or perverseness. The topics are broached lightly, but the mature route is taken by the kids. They talk honestly about how they should treat each other with respect, and forgive each other for having a little trouble occasionally with ogling, as it is hard to never do that if you like someone (and if you are married, wouldn’t even be natural.)

Kissing is talked about, and Hiro decides it is something you should only do with the one person you love, you should kiss around, basically. Partner swaps are taken seriously.

Though riding in the Franxx mechs is a metaphor for sex, the show remembers it is just a metaphor, and doesn’t treat changing partners as cheating, more like realizing you’re not right for your bf or gf and not forcing yourself to stay with them. Though Kokorp does break a promise, it’s not literally marriage, since the show later has actual marriage, so you don’t have to feel it’s the icky affair divorce and infidelity would be.

Also the Franxx are a metaphor for emotional intimacy, the kids literally connect their minds and feelings inside them, and while sex is one way to do that, it’s not the only purpose of the metaphor. People who are not sexually attracted to each other can still pilot together, if they have mutual trust and are willing to try, because it is also about relational intimacy. The lesbian and the reaming guy can still work together because they are friends, not as effective as the others maybe, but it’s not a sexual thing for them.

Some fans probably saw this as inconsistent, but I saw it as wisdom on the writer’s part not to take their own metaphor too far, that always cause major plot issues in a story, you need to remember no metaphor is perfect.

The idea that you should find the right person and stick with them forever is actually stressed constantly by the show. And you could say it leaves room for arranged marriage, at least two of the couples are put together by the Adults without getting a say in it, but they eventually grow close and make it work, while the other get to choose their own partners eventually, and they make that work. The point is if you are willing to try and you have a decent person, you can learn to get along.

Then there’s 02, she, I eventually realized, is sort of in the role of a slut/prostitute, if you follow the metaphor. She lets herself be used, and devours other people, which of course is a sexual term, one found in the Bible also. Used specifically for harlots and cheaters. like most lusts, 02 does this because she has no self respect and feels it is all she is good for, and she hates the men she is given the same way most sinners hate the ones they sin against, she calls them “fodder” because that is what the system is giving them to her to be, and she hates it but feels stuck.

As with many whores, though, 02 secretly dreams of love and trust just like ordinary people can have. She met Hiro years ago and wants to find him again and be with him, no matter who she has to kill and what she has to do. As her conscience grows, she gets more desperate and unhinged, then feels ashamed once she finds out the truth.

I thought it was one of the most powerful thematic moments when it hit her that her lifestyle of debauchery in order to find love was exactly what made her unable to have it once she did find it. A major reality check you could say.

Then, in a Hosea like move, Hiro forgives her and accepts her anyway, and she confesses “I am a monster” but he’s already told her he doesn’t care.

Let’s unpack that.

Should you actually be with someone like that? People like 02 have very deep issues, and often will do what she did, try to suck your life out in order to fill their own void, like with her, it may not even be something she always does on purpose, it just happens. Then they may start doing it on purpose as a way to cope.

The show stresses that 02 is a monster in some ways. That her actions made her that way, even if her DNA didn’t. But believing she was a monster is what caused her to do that. Hiro was the first person who made her feel human and she wanted to be human so she could be with him.

I believe the “monster” metaphor is meant to represent how people do have ugly parts to them, and you have to accept that.

I was reminded of Fruits Basket, which I am also currently re-watching, in episode 23, I believe, when Kyo laments his mother covering up his ugly form. he says he knew it was monstrous, and he wish she would just face that with him together, instead of pretending he was not what he was.

People are not literally bests or monsters, but it’s a metaphor, so we can’t take it too literally. The point is that we all have ugly sides to us.

I don’t hold with calling that a good thing, it’s not. But neither of these shows seems to be falling into that error. 02 is clearly not a monster for her horns and pink hair, bur for her actions. Kyo had damage and a curse that makes him have an ugly side, but it is not who he is truly, he transforms back to a human when Tohru accepts that about him.

I was reminded of myself. I spent many years worried about being a monster, I used to think it was just me, I later learned it’s almost everyone, at some level, whether we all use that word or not. I struggle even today with wondering if anyone will ever love me enough to get past that.

Most people would not describe me as someone with confidence issues, or as a bad person. I have gotten much better at loving myself than I use to be, but it doesn’t rear its’ ugly head at times.

I know that I will always, in this life, have moments of insecurity. Maybe not about this, but about some things, to be human is to sometimes have fear. But you don’t have to live in torment of it.

My family does accept me, much more than ever before, and I have healed, but an abusive past is a detriment to many people when they consider who they want to spend their life with. Though I do not believe I will repeat my dad’s mistakes, some people don’t think that way. And I know that the trust issues I have are likely to flare up in a romantic relationship, all the therapy in the world will not take it away, it just gives you a way to work it out. Something many people don’t understand.

Hiro chooses to see 02 as beautiful despite her differences, and at first she rejects that as much as any broken person would, but when she realizes he loved her from the beginning, she melts.

The relationship is not one side though. Hiro teaches 02 how to accept love, but she teaches him what passion and emotion are, she brings him to life.

It’s very much how I’ve read the male-female relationship is meant to work. Man gives strength and care to woman, she gives it back to him in life and beauty and enriching his existence, you need both.

Goro and Ichigo have a more typical anime type relationship where Goro had to be in it for the long game, and Ichigo doesn’t love him at first, but eventually he does win her over, though we don’t get to see it own screen. The point is he never becomes bitter because she likes someone else, and she learns to be mature about it, and let Hiro go. I was surprised at the illogical hate fans had for her, when I didn’t really see any other way she would have handled it, knowing nothing and with 02 being a anything but healthy at first.

It’s a tough call too, some broken people should not be in a romantic relationship, and if your friends are warning you about that, you should take it seriously. Other times, a broken person can be healed through a romantic relationships.

I am no expert in this field, but the best clues I can guess at are look very carefully at what kind of broken they are, the reason behind it, and if they seem at all willing to change. 02 wants to become human so much that once she realizes what that means, she changes very quickly, not without road-bumps along the way, but still, Hiro’s trust in her proves justified. If she didn’t want that, it would be an entirely different thing, and some anime do go there, some of Western shows go there (actually way too many now) and that is very toxic.

Final Themes

All right, the final themes I want to talk about are the idea of what makes us human, what it means to bring life into the world, and the surprising take on what sex is really about.

Some feelings make us human. But pure lust doesn’t. The doctor character lusts after a creature on the show, but that makes him a monster, very Claude Frollo like. 02 understand lust in a weird, twisted, way, but not love. Hatred doesn’t make us human.

But the alternative the show’s villains offer, that of only purely spiritual feelings, is also not human. They don’t quite go so far as killing god, thanks goodness, but the idea of becoming gods is actually voiced, to my surprise. The Doctor says repeatedly “I’m an atheist.”

He might be, but is the show? Not really. Prayer is actually part of the solution to the final battle. Not prayer to any specific god, but still. Spirituality is not actually discouraged, but the idea of disassociating it with being human, and leaving behind humanity to be “spiritual” is what is denounced.

C. S. Lewis warned that Spiritual pride and Spiritual sins are the worst kind. The most dehumanizing. In the end, a witch becomes little better than a pure beast, because their value for anything good will be eaten away by their darkness, this is quite literally in “The Silver Chair” where the witch is literally a serpent. not human at all.

Now, the Bible teaches us that our mortal bodies do house sin, and we will be rid of them. But we will be given new bodies, not be disembodied spirits. Jesus is described as having a body.

The point is not to think of it as choosing between a body and a soul, but it becoming a new kind of being, never before seen, that is someone both at the same time. That is what the Bible says Jesus is, and that is is till now unheard of.

And, to my astonsihment, DITF actaully went to that conclusion.

Darling in the FranXX Windows 10 Theme - themepack.me

At the very end, 02 and Hiro combine their bodies, minds, and spirit, to become something that is both a physical and spiritual entity. Hard to explain with any scientific logic, but if you are following the metaphor, it makes perfect sense. True perfection is the melding of those two or three things.

Not many people even in church know this, but the sexual act is supposed to represent in a very small way, the connection between Christ and the Church.

In the best sex, between a man and wife, you experience the other person. You become one with them, while remaining yourself.

The show describes this as “I can’t tell where you begin and I end” and going deeper inside that person.

While you could see that as crass, it only happens when the show is putting empathsis on the spiritual connection, not just the physical act of sex. Yes, the physical components do mirror the emotional ones in that way, I’m a virgin and I can understand that. The whole sexual design is a living metaphor for connection between people.

Which is why it’s been degraded so much by the culture. We sexualize everything, because we have no ability to understand spiritual intimacy anymore. Sex is the closest experience to that the average person has, so many people bring it into everything.

But, it is about so much more than that.

The show is far from being vulgar. It keeps it within the context of a husband and wife, and explores what it really means.

It deviates a little from just sex, as they share memories too, but the point is it’s a deep connection. When it goes from 02 using him to her doing it out of love, they become a whole new person, in a very literal sense.

The show ends with them saying they are ONE. Not like that weird alien creeps are all one, uni-formally, but ONE because they joined together two very different creatures, but embrace that fully.

I realize I can’t write this without it sounding like innuendo, darn it show!

But there is a reason we use those terms about sex too, it is true. When it’s between people who have that real relationship out of the bedroom it will be expressed in the bedroom too.

I don’t feel embarrassed talking about it, though I’ve never experienced it, because I see it as beautiful. God-ordained, and I see no reason to treat it like a shameful thing.

I was surprised that the show used the terminology is did. It sounded like the Bible. Saying the two became One. Hiro literally leaves his Papa to become joined to 02 (though in this case, he wasn’t leaving anything worth having, as PAPA was just the villain.)

The Bible has the unique idea, among religions, that becoming one doesn’t take away your individuality. That God is 3 in 1, all 3 being different, but being 1. That husband and wife show this to us on a smaller scale.

It’s like if you fit puzzle pieces together, the only way they can fit is if they are different, yet made to fit together. Men and women quite literally are made to fit together. If we were more alike, we couldn’t do that.

In the most poignant part of the metaphor, Hiro and 02 even look alike, and have exchanged DNA (not like that), they have fully merged, yet remain separate in a way.

Not everyone knows this, but your DNA in sex does get imprinted ont eh toher person, in a strange way. Even if it’s just one time and a one night stand. I’ve heard that it’s harmful in every ocntext but marriage.

Married people start to look and act alike after awhile, and sound alike. My mom’s sense of humor a=changed after marrying my dad.

Actually, if that’s not happening, it’s a sign of dysfunction.

Finally, the theme of life, and legacy. Not much to say on, but I really liked that the show depicted having a baby as something to value, and the beauty of new life. When Mitsuru cried at his daughter being born, I got emotional, something is very precious about seeing babies valued in media.

In Conclusion

There are more themes in the show, micro themes like what to do with unplanned pregnancy, and if you don’t remember something are you still responsible, and I liked the show’s way of handling them all, but I can’t go into them here, I covered the most important stuff.

So, I hope this was enough to convince you to check this show out, but even if you don’t, I hope you got something out of this post.

I have to admit, I better be careful who I admit having watched this too, since I think its reputation is skewed by the people who only watched it for the sex thrills. They were probably disappointed ultimately in its mature take on all that. I loved it though.

It’s not the anime I enjoyed the most, and it may not be on my top 5 list of ones I’ll re-watch, it’s not really that kind of story. But it is beautiful, and poignant, and worth seeing at least once. It’s also one of the first ones I’ve seen that I honestly can’t disagree with the conclusion of, and that is remarkable.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha

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A Sad-Happy post

I need an outlet, so I guess blogging works.

Since my last post I found out my step-grandmother, who’s had Covid, is unable to eat and they think she will be gone soon. So my family and I are planning to say goodbye later today.

When I first heard she was sick, I wasn’t very upset, things happen, she’s been on the verge of dying anytime for ears now in Hospice care with Alzheimer’s.

This will be the first person close to me who’s died of COVID, I guess I am lucky it has been so long, and no one else in my family has died of it.

I didn’t feel much before, but now I think I was suppressing it, as I tend to suppress sadness, I was never taught how to handle it well, in my house sadness =depressed/suicidal, so I became very afraid of that feeling.

But just plain sadness is good, it shows you care about stuff that happens around you. I am working on that.

I guess I can commemorate this post to my step-grandmother, or Grammy, as we always called her.

Though we aren’t blood related, I was closest to her out of all my grandparents. before her disease got so bad we couldn’t really talk anymore, and I grew into an awkward teen who wasn’t sure of who I could trust anymore.

Before I had other friends though, she was my outlet to talk about my home problems. She’d listen to my complain about my dad and my other toxic acquaintances for 30 minutes, almost every day for a while. Looking back, I don’t know how she put up with it, but it helped me not become discouraged.

I got embarrassed about it after a while an stopped calling, though she still affectionately referred to me as her “phone buddy” and asked why I wouldn’t call anymore. I didn’t know what to say. I think the abuse and adolescence combined were getting to me. I felt stupid for complaining, and felt like I should handle it through church.

I don’t know, and I will never be able to ask, if she saw it as abusive, but she would at least agree m dad shouldn’t treat me that way. house she got annoyed at me from time to time if I pushed to talk longer, or called at a bad time, overall she was a great sport about it.

I know a bit about her background. She used to model, she was really gorgeous as a young woman. We look nothing alike, though I’ve been told I could model too, but we both liked make up and clothes and she gave me some of my first make up and beauty tips.

I guess in a way she was a maternal figure in my life. And when it went away, I didn’t know what to feel.

For several years her memory has been too bad to really have long conversations, and she’s been in hospice so I only see her once or twice a year, and it stresses her out to talk for longer than 10 minutes.

So i have focused on the thought that she is a Christian, and I will have to wait till heaven to really talk to her again.

I suspect my coping mechanism is not a very healthy one. It’s okay to still be upset about all this, even if I have hope.

I don’t know why I was so confused as to how to act, but I always felt guilty about not talking anymore, and I pushed it away. The whole thing made me uncomfortable, and then I felt guilty for being uncomfortable with the dementia and other stuff.

I know now that’s a normal thing to struggle with, but no one told me that, and no one really asked me if I was okay. I didn’t expect them to, I grow up with my emotional needs being ignored all the time unless I absolutely begged for attention, or even argued for it… and even then, I still didn’t get it, or I got it very grudgingly.

M grandparents were an exception tot hat, at least this one and her husband, though things still got awkward if my dad was around, as he liked to start fights. Still, about the only unconditional love I experienced as a kid came from that source.

When my grandma, her husband, died nearly 2 years ago, I wasn’t sure how I felt then either. We were never close, but he at least invested time and money into us, paying for my braces, and giving us gifts to help us with our interests. And listening to us sing and recite and stuff. I think my dad got jealous, honestly, and tried to make it awkward by telling us lots of terrible stories about how he grew up.

Knowing my dad lies and exaggerates now, I question if it was all true, or as true, as he told us, I’ll probably never know that either in this life.

I’m not sure it really matters, all us girls wished we’d just been left to pass our own judgment on our grandparents without feeling like we couldn’t like them because of our dad’s past. Maybe they were different people then, but who they are now is trying to be better, right?

At my grandpa’s funeral, my dad was upset, but also torn because he never liked his father or got along with him, or felt loved by him.

I wonder if I will feel the same when he dies, I hope not.

But it confused me, and I got confused about my step-grandmother also. She was a really nice lady as long as I knew her, but used to be into bad stuff, and an enabler for the other toxic people, she always had a very forgiving attitude towards people, for better or worse.

That made her by far the least toxic person in that part of the family, but my dad made sure we knew about the past, even at an age it was hardly appropriate for us to know about it at.

So, now what?

I’ve come to realize that I don’t need to hold my dad’s grudges. I value knowing the truth about people, but if it is in the past, I don’t think I always need to know, unless it still affects them now.

And I could know they were dysfunctional without needing the gritty details. Some things you should not hear about your family, especially if they became Christians.

I can say this much, Grammy would never take sides or bad mouth people like the others. I felt safer talking to her because of that. I didn’t feel safe with my dad or mom, they’d repeat stuff I said, sometimes to the whole family. Sometimes to strangers.

But I don’t want to go on about my abuse right now, I think it’s just a distraction.

Still, it does color a lot of my memories, making them more difficult to understand, and sort through.

I remember Grammy took us to museums, some really fun places, as part of our homeschooling, you could say. We loved one where there was a stage you could dress up and perform on, with working lights.

And before she got too sick to go out, she’d take us Christmas shopping, we’d get $50 each, to get whatever we wanted.

And we got to play all these cool computer games (back when they still had those, and not just apps and video games) on her computer, and play with old toys she had. The she gave us later some of her more prized possessions, these old china dolls, really expensive stuff now.

And I got some of her clothes later, I wanted something to remember her by, and a few pieces of jewelry.

Yeah, I guess we did do the most together. I’ve spent more time over all with my maternal grandmother, but our personalities and beliefs clash too much for intimacy. She’s a real nice lady, but it’s never going to be ideal, unless something changes.

Which, is okay, though I wish it were different, I can accept that.

But Grammy having dementia, as well as lupus, was just another sad thing on my list of sad things, and I never knew how to process them.

I don’t think I will stay sad for very long, I am at peace about her soul, at least, and I want her suffering to be over. After all, she will be far happier in heaven than she ever was here, and it’s not separation for forever. I believe that.

The Bible says we are not like those who mourn without hope, we have hope, though we still mourn. Knowing our latter glory will be greater than our former.

I don’t know if heaven is a place where we walk around like the classic idea of the afterlife, whether it is somewhere we rest until God recreates heaven and earth, or whether it is both.

I do believe, whatever it is, it is like Lewis’s idea of “further up and further in” that God is eternal, and we will always be drawing closer to Him, but never far from Him again.

From the stories I hear, people experience being taken to heaven much like going through a door, or transporting to a different dimension, but until I go myself, I won’t really know, and it wouldn’t surprise if it’s different for everyone, what in life is ever the same for us all?

Some people think pets go to heaven, others don’t.

My thought is, if we love it, truly, it will be there, in some form or another. That we humans give life to whatever we love, as the Bible seems to teach it was meant to be.

But, that’s a theory, and what can I really know?

Some people feel God’s presence strongly in grief, others don’t. For me, I tend to feel alone when I am pushing away my sadness, but when I welcome it, I find God is there, waiting.

I can’t write anything like “A Grief Observed” to due credit to the beauty of human life and love, I still need to learn so much more about both.

And while I like to forget about death, I know I can’t escape it anymore than the next person.

I don’t buy the “live forever in our hearts” line, because it seems too small to me.

I am glad at least that Grammy is a Christian, my only other deceased relatives were not, and that’s it’s own pain, knowing that.

I guess it still hurts, and I can feel it, when I let myself, but it doesn’t have to crush me.

I remember when my great uncle died, I kept thinking “The old has gone, the new has come” as my cousins had recently been born.

I don’t know why I had that line stuck in my head.

But I’ve thought of loss in that was since, old things pass away, all things become new. For Christians, growing old and dying means we become new.

Our final reenactment of what Jesus said about going into the ground and dying, in order to be reborn and bear fruit.

Why do Christians still die if we have eternal life?

I guess because Jesus physically died, and we are supposed to imitate him, and he who loses his life for Christ will find it. Our lives symbolically reenact Jesus, even to death. At least, we do not have to die alone, like him.

There may be some people alive now who will never die, who knows? But most of us will. That has been one of the main reasons people come to God over. Funny that now that fewer people believe in God, more people kill each other and themselves, as if the fear of oblivion isn’t enough to keep us from doing evil.

In the end, love is the only thing that really shows us how to be good.

And the loss of love is the worst loss.

And for that, I am still sad, but, I think, The Notebook has it right, love never dies, not really.

Interstellar pointed out that love transcends space and time, we love people who are dead, who are far away, who we haven’t met yet, like our babies, or even our lovers, sometimes (Like in Your Name).

I rather think that Love must be eternal also, that we love people before we know them, and after we’ve forgotten them, and only our mortal limits keep us from realizing it. You’ve met people you just clicked with, right? Why?

Something just happens with love.

We can love people we met once for one minute.

Anyway, perhaps my grandmother will pull through, I can’t know for sure, but whether she does not not, I wanted to honor her life a little bit today.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Bad At Love

A slightly late post for Valentine’s Day that’s not about being single or family love or self care!

Yay!

There was something in my post Why not just reconcile?, there was one part my sister told me she really liked.

“You shouldn’t aim to be better than someone else, you should aim to be as good as you can be. As loving, as pure, as brave, as wise, and then you have no real limit, you can always grow.”

We talking about that, and I said “Love is exponential.”

What I meant by that, is that we tend to weigh and balance love by certain standards.

It’s kind of what Valentine’s day has become hasn’t it. You got to do the flowers, candy, stuffed animals, and if you have an SO, you got to have holiday sex (I might be a sheltered homeschooler, but I know how it goes, I read books. Yes, I’m aware that flex just makes me sound more sheltered, but it is like that for real.)

Great day for me, right, single since birth?

Well, like many people, I chose to look at the day as a day to remember to think of anyone I love. I get my family chocolates or cards, usually candy, since my card making skills suck and buying that stuff is pricey.

So, I don’t get depressed on Valentine’s Day, but it does remind me how we have commercialized everything now, how we put pressure on ourselves to love on just certain days of the ear.

I am all for holidays, St. Valentine is someone I look up to, anyone who stands up for love and marriage tot he point of death is going to be important to a romantic such as myself. I love the idea of having a day just to remember love.

What I don’t love is that holidays are often not just the public day of love, but the only private day of it for many people.

I read in a book once about one couple who’s kids were all born in November because Valentine’s Day was one of their only sex days, that’s just not right.

Not that sex has to be present if both partners are not physically able to have it, but if they are, then that’s just sad.

And that’s the problem. What’s the use of paying lip service to Love, literally (sorry that joke was horrible) on one day if you ignore our family the other days.

I also don’t like the Single’s Awareness Day jokes, because to me it disrespects the whole thing, very selfishly. You don’t have to be married or dating to value marriage or dating, in fact, if you only value those thins when you have them, you don’t value them truly for unselfish reasons.

Spending a day getting jealous of all your not-single friends is hardly encouraging you to think of Love on better terms.

And Love goes beyond that romantic kind. That stuff is really good, but it’s not the only thing.

Though, I will say, we are undervaluing even the erotic side of love these days.

If you read Song of Solomon, you’ll see that even our ideas of sex are far short of the Bibles in terms of the adoration between lovers and the purity of sex when it’s done right, ad the sheer joy of loving each other so deeply. I don’t see that too much anymore.

I think there are times, as C. S. Lewis even said, that you have to encourage your desire for sex with your spouse. That may be the most important thing to do at that time.

But any one with half a heart ought to see that’s really something you do because you have a deeper love that goes beyond your own conveniences or wishes.

And that’s what I wanted to talk about.

As a culture, as humans, we are just bad at love. There’s two songs, and at least one Webtoon titled that that i know of, and far more people who’d admit they suck at relationships.

Common reasons?:

Jealously

Fear of Commitment

Fear of Intimacy

Baggage (usually the reason for all of the above)

Do you know anyone who’s GREAT at Love?

If I do, it’s not many people. I know far more people who wish the were better at it, and even more who probably don’t even think about it being the most important thing in life.

This was brought to my mind even more by a conversation with my 10 year old cousin last week.

Ever since I started tutoring/mentoring her this kid has been giving me crap, throwing tantrums, trying to guilt me and blame me for all her stress and insecurities being triggered, and saying she’ll talk to her parent about it.

Of course she has no idea who she’s dealing with, I’ve heard all this before, multiple times.

Last week, she admitted to ling to me the whole week because she doesn’t like me being there, watching her. I told her I was disappointed to hear this since we had talked about trust. I asked her how I was supposed to believe her when she told me stuff, if she had lied to me for 3 days straight just to get around me.

She didn’t honestly have an answer to that, and I didn’t expect one.

But she got very emotional and finally she said “I’m just bad at love” or “being loved.” Like how she doesn’t always want hugs when she’s emotional, and how she used to be good at making friends, and now she’s not (thanks to some mean kids beginning to bully her).

Unfortunately, her home environment can be toxic too, her parents aren’t so bad, but their relatives and friends constantly expose the kids to ridicule over very minor mistakes that has caused both of my cousins to shut down in different ways. They are more open around us, but sometimes do the same thing if we ever show displeasure or disagree with them. To them, that means mockery is coming, though we never mock them ourselves.

I know how they feel, my dad subjected me to many humiliating experiences, and so do my relatives on their side of the family. I have never been comfortable around them, now that I am an adult, I’ve grown stronger and I usually am left alone by the relatives, but it took years to get to that point, and when you live in it, what do you expect?

That sad thing is, this is hardly abnormal now. In fact, my aunt and uncle are still above average parents, but they don’t have a clue how to do positive reinforcement. I support discipline, but not exclusively, it’s too discouraging. Giving people digs is just normal in our day and age in America, and I can’t change that myself singlehandedly.

But I am left to deal with the effects of it, because my cousin is to scared to confront her actual parents, so she projects it all onto me because I am nicer to her, and more considerate. When she got fed up and said she’s “bad at love” I was remind of myself.

I didn’t talk to anyone about it, but when I was even younger than her, I had trouble feeling love, and I thought there was something wrong with me. Looking bad, I did feel love when I was 4 or 5, but my anxiety and other fears took over sometime after that, though I remained affectionate for a while, til my dad’s treatment squelched it mostly. Then in my teens and pre-teens, it got really bad, with my dad actively trying to give me a complex. I only got through it because I came to Christ at 13 and began to mature in Love.

Love has always bee my primary focus as a Christian, when I came to Christ, I had been seeking out the truth about love, without even knowing it, reading certain books, watching things, and trying to understand. Once that change happened, the world became alive for me. I remember one of the first things was I began to enjoy Nature, I never cared much about it before, but I did after that, I read in “Hind’s Feet on High Places” of the same thing happening to Hannah Hurnard. I’ve known my sisters to have the same experience too.

Without love and life in us, it’s no wonder we turn to the over stimulus of electronics. It’s hard to be in Nature when you can’t love problem, it tends to remind you how empty you are.

Maybe it’s because real things cost us so much.

A fake bouquet can be bought for a dollar, a real one is going to cost you. Fake gold is cheap, real gold isn’t. Fake jewels, fake cards, everything digital and plastic is less expensive.

And somehow, less satisfying. Even the chocolate that’s cheap just doesn’t’ taste as good and we savor it less.

My cousin is a kid growing up in a culture obsessed with fake love. To the point where it’s semi-normal to have imaginary waifus and husbandos, and ou can get a certificate of marriage to an anime character, and be in a dating sims with one too.

I saw this dumb pick up line on Webtoon yesterday as part of some weird Valentine’s Day special “I’ll be your body pillow”

Do NOT look that up if you didn’t get it, it’s not worth it. I only know because I watch other fans talk about shows.

Hey, I am not knocking fictional romance, it’s actually therapy for me. At least seeing better examples of love than I saw growing up gives me hope. I know it’s not all like a story, but if it could even be partially like that, that’s way better than what I saw.

But, at some point, you have to get up and go put this into practice. You have to try to be the kind of supportive friend you read about, or boyfriend, or girlfriend.

The main thing that stops us is FEAR.

Fear and Love just do not go togheter.

Why don’t I confess to my crush? I am afraid of losing a friend, and humiliating myself.

1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, for fear has torment.”

I was tormented by love growing up in a toxic house, and it’s gets complicated.

I believe in the sacredness of Love so much that few things seem worse to me than twisting it into a tool. That’s why my favorite books is “Till We Have Faces” which contrasts holy and profane love with each other.

Profane Love, as the MC of the book says “Can grow to be nine tenths hatred and still call itself Love.”

No one likes to be loved like this, but all of us can fall into the trap of loving this way if we don’t watch ourselves.

I read a Webtoon that also illustrated this well, called “Freaking Romance.”

Image result for Zylith

In this story, a girl and guy from different dimension find each other and fall in love, but the girl resists it because she hates love. “Love” was what her abusive father called it when he controlled her and stole form her and tried to force things on her. Reading that part was difficult for me, some of it was almost word for word what my own dad would say. Down to the fake apologies and gifts.

The guy i this story had an abusive mom, and in one of the best episodes of the comic, he tells another girl with a toxic past, that broken people tend to be drawn to each other, wanting to fix each other’s pain and thereby fix their own, and that can be good, with two people who truly want to be better, such as him and the MC, but in other cases, it can feed into it and recreate the cycle, which is far more common, sadly.

But he wants to be the kind of guy who heals. And the MC ends up falling for that despite her misgivings.

The story rather maturely acknowledges that her mistrust is more becaue of her own past than anthin the guy ever does. Wehn they finally decise to give it a shot, she learns to try to giv emore.

Spoiler alert if you want to read it:

At the climax, Zylith is given the change to be with Zelen forever, if she will get everything she ever wanted, ad then give it up just to be with him. it’s important, because she’s constantly chosen her career over love, and hesitated to to change her mind, even in a crisis. Zylith agrees, gets all that, ad finally gets to return to Zelen. He tells her he’d never ask her to give all that up for him,and she shouldn’t have to.

she replies that though it was great to get allt hat, it wasn’t satifuing, becuase she didn’t ahve him. And she makes an efoort after that to be a giver, not just a tkaer.

Notably, the cosmic forces at work in the story were firm but fair. IF you can’t give our all at love, why be in a relationshp?

That does not mean everone needs to be able to love like that gong into a rleationship, I don’t think any human being starts off that way, myself.

IT means that no matter where ou start from, ou give it all you can there.

That could mean taking our steps to get off an addiction, going to therapy for your mental health, and getting rid of your toxic influences. All that is love, if you do it to become a better person. And don’t ask your SO to fix you.

On the other hand, for some of us, it’s letting our SO help us, and support us, being honest with them, and working not to take out our issues on them when they tr to help. That is also love.

Love is not really about whether you give or you take from an outward standpoint. In true Love, giving and taking become indistinguishable.

Giving a service to someone is a gift, but receiving it is also a gift, I’ve learned that form personal experience, real love is never selfish, whether it gives or takes, because in a way, it is always giving, and always taking, since you get pleasure form loving.

Love then, is just a way of life. It is life. No one without love is really living.

The Bible doesn’t say that in so many words, because the Bible assumes the truth of that. God requires us to Love each other in order to be holy, and to love Him in order to please Him, but he doesn’t demand it. It is simply what we’re told will actually make us right again.

All God does is Love, and if the Bible reiterated that, it’d be every time God is mentioned. Though it does not always look like love to us, that doesn’t matter.

And truly good people do all they do out of love of some sort. That’s just the truth.

I’d tell you all what I told my cousin, for me, there is not way to stop being Bad at Love except through God. That is all that changed me, and all that does now, and all that kept me from becoming toxic.

With that, I think I’ll wrap this up. Happy Love Celebration Day, stay honest–Natasha.

I don’t really like this song but it matched the title so….
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Why not just reconcile?

I hit 200 followers! *party noises* thanks you guys!

Want to hear a crazy story?

Life happens weirdly doesn’t it? Yesterday we were just minding our own business, and we got a message that our dad was having a medical emergency, alone at his house.

My energetic aunt who lives, like, a 1,000 miles away from us, was somehow the one trying to organize all this, and my dad was calling a bunch of people, but didn’t think to just call a taxi.

Later we found out, to add insult to injury, he’d actually almost passed out several times earlier in the day, but neglected to go to the doctor then, instead he still drove home. I believe they call this “dumb luck”.

After he finally was taken to the hospital probably an hour and a half after he should have just called a taxi or 911, they discovered he had a heart attack and he went in for immediate surgery. The attack was bad and could have killed him.

I haven’t talked to my dad in about 18 months, give or take, and this was the first time I spoke to him, but, with an emergency like that, it would have been cruel not to.

Getting on the speaker, we all talked to him. Almost the first words out of his mouth, once he said “I really would like to talk to the girls in case this is the end for me” or some rubbish like that, were “God has really been working on my heart, and I’ve changed a lot… and I believe with forgiveness should come reconciliation, that the Bible makes it clear they go together.” (I paraphrase a little for clarity, but I assure you I am not exaggerating, I don’t do that, the truth is bad enough on it’s own.)

I suppose it sounds innocent enough, to someone outside the family, but those of you with toxic family members know hot there are certain phrases and words and tones and references that have been built up over the years a s part of an intricate web of manipulation, usually disguised as harmless so that others don’t catch on. But the family members know themselves what it means.

You see, my dad will use the bible as a weapon to cover his own bad behavior. He’d yell at us and rage and throw fits, and use “honor your father” as an exude, ignoring “don’t provoke your children to wrath.” He’d storm about not being respected as “the head of the house” but ignore “love your wives as Christ loved the church.” You’ve probably met people like this too.

Abusive parents tend to use love as a requirement only when they want love, and then deny it to their victims especially children if they are the most insecure about children, or their wife, if they are more insecure about romantic relationships. Depends on their own background usually. Most of the time, it’s both.

My dad also swore to us more times than I can count that God was working on his heart, and he was a different person. He treated us exactly the same every time, and treated God the same too. My dad lives in a fantasy world when it comes to spirituality. It’s simply a game of rules and appearances to him, not depth.

He also said he’d been healed of a lot of stuff, I don’t buy that for an instant.

Later on, he told us that if this was his last request to us, he wanted us not to hold any bitterness or resentment in our heats because God wouldn’t like it. And that he loved us so much, and missed us, blah blah blah.

He didn’t ask once how we’d been doing, my sister told him, but he barley listened. He talked about how he’d been doing most of the time, and how he might die, (though it wasn’t actually that likely), yada yada, and reconciliation, and it was so nice to talk to us again. It was almost worth it for this to happen just to be able o talk to us…

I sympathize with the fear and terror of a medical emergency, I’ve driven my sister to the ER when no one else was home and she was throwing up and having other signs of a concussion. I’ve taken care of my other sister after she fainted from sun poisoning. I’ve had terrible moments myself, especially last year. I am not one to put that down.

But, none of us use medical emergencies as an excuse to be vindictive and manipulative. Amidst all this chaos, my dad still managed to impress me with how petty he can be.

I mean, if it truly could be your last words to your children and wife, would you spend it going on about how terrible you were doing, and how they made you so lonely by not calling, and poor you.

I know I would want to spend it saying things that would leave good memories, if nothing else. It’s not he time for final digs.

I concluded he never really believed he was going to die, as indeed, it was past the point where that was likely anymore. It was an attention grab.

It may sound terrible of me to think so, but his mom pulls stuff like this also, and he’s done it before, and it’s really much sicker to do it at all than to realize someone else is doing it.

I suppose we knew deep down he used his health to manipulate us for pity and attention, I just didn’t think of it much with all the other, more violent stuff, but this one was always so blinking unfair because how can you get angry at soemoen who’s sick? Even if they are making it worse on purpose?

The man says he intends to go right back to work instead of resting like you are supposed to do, I doubt he’ll actually do that, but he wants us to talk him out of it. These tricks are as old as our lives.

I don’t intend to try, but it’s very frustrating to hear someone be such an idiot, and just to garner sympathy.

My aunt was no help, she just encouraged it, and event old my sister “can’t you put aside your feud for a short time?”

Yes, a feud, that’s all 20 years of abuse, neglect, and folly was… sure.

Because none of us have proof of physical damage, our family has elected not to take us that seriously, at least, the one who listen to my dad and aunt in the first place.

Based on my studies and comparing to others who’ve undergone the same treatment, we more than qualify for all three types of abuse, with Emotional being the crowning one.

My dad is something called a “dark empath” if I understand right. He know what you want to hear, and need to hear, but instead of genuinely giving it to you out of compassion, he gives it in a fake twisted way, that always brings the focus back to him. I’ve almost never heard the guy shut up about himself in the whole time I’ve known him.

In conversation with me, it has never been about me. Same with all of us, including my mom.

He’s not totally without sympathetic feelings, but it’s a superficial kind that always ends up becoming about him after about 5 seconds. I don’t doubt he feels bad, but empaths can take our feelings into themselves, and then reflect them back. A dark empath can do that, in a bad bay, making the misery all there own and expecting you to feel sorry for them, when you’re the one suffering.

In proof of this point, my aunt entered her late son’s name in a walk-a-thon for charity that she asked us all to participate in. She asked my dad not to start telling stories about the past and making it about him. That was what he immediately did after she asked, including telling them her embarrassing nickname and encouraging us girls to participate. I declined.

My father is cruel, he was cruel as a kid, he’s cruel now.

Yet, he has the audacity to say he loves us so much while crying and acting like he’s in the worst pain in the world. Like we ever did anything to him. Sheesh.

Okay, as you can tell, I am blowing off steam and I may regret being so raw after I’ve had a few days to think about it.

But I bet you’ve felt the same, and maybe you even understand why it would bother me how he acted.

But is it worse that none of it really surprised me? I didn’t call him when he got Covid-19 because I knew he’d say stuff I didn’t want to hear, and I wouldn’t be comforting him at all, save for the sick satisfaction he gets out of having us pity him and kowtow to him. Perhaps he imagines he is making us feel guilty.

And I called this time only because it might have been my last chance, and however terrible a person he might be, I don’t want anyone to die without hearing some last kind words form the people around them.

I didn’t expect him to really appreciate that, and I was not disappointed in that, but he went further than I would have believed, it took him less than 5 minutes to say something manipulative.

All the nice things he said just because he’s been told to say them. It’s nauseating. I felt my throat tighten up.

I wanted to laugh, my sister held me back, she felt the same but didn’t want me to visibly show it while he was still on the line, especially since we were on speaker. I held back, but if he hadn’t been about to go in for heart surgery, I’d have given him a piece of my mind.

I hope you understand I am not advocating bullying someone who’s potentially dying or in a lot of pain. I am saying it was out of basic decency that I didn’t do that, but I assure you, had our position been reversed, he would not have afforded me the same courtesy. That’s how delusional he is.

I believe we have to show mercy, so I told him I loved him, and we’d forgiven him. That was when he came back with that “reconciliation” crap.

Since he brought it up, and some of you might have similar problems, perhaps I should answer here what the Bible’s idea of reconciliation is.

In the Old Testament, there are far more examples of reconciliation than in the New, because it talks more about people’s stories. The best examples or Joseph with his brothers, Jacob with his twin, Esau and also his uncle Laban; David with Saul; Hagar with Sarah, and Hosea with Gomer.

In only two of those examples did reconciliation involve establishing close contact, or living in the same house. Joseph, and Hosea both stayed in close touch with their family, though we don’t know how often Joseph saw his brothers, or how much Gomer reciprocated Hosea’s love (that was a direct assignment from God to give an example of loving an unfaithful woman. But Gomer was not abusive.)

Joseph did not reconcile with his brothers until he was in a position of power and it was entirely safe to do so, and after testing them to see if they really had changed. Once they proved they had truly repented and regretted their wrongs, he revealed himself.

This is where most therapists will leave it, if you have proof they changed, then you can become close again. I don’t think Joseph intended to kill his brothers if they didn’t change, but I doubt he would have revealed all to them in the same way.

In the other examples I listed, peace was made, and the people went their separate was to live out their own lives. Even Hagar eventually left Sarah’s service, and she was a slave who couldn’t legally do so on her own, but Sarah chose to send her away, and God made it to be for the best. Later in the New Testament, Hager is used as a metaphor for how the slave to sin must be driven out so the child of the promise (us) can flourish. A powerful symbol for abuse also.

“Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.”” (Galatians 4:30)

So, my dad has no real basis for using the bible as leverage here, but it’s an old trick he clearly thinks we will still fall for.

As for the New Testament, it was actually or inspiration for kicking him out. When we talked to our mom about it, we reminded her of how Paul kicked some people out of the young church till they could learn respect for God and stop teaching false doctrines. Two people who tried to deceive the believers dropped dead on the spot (harsh, I assure you it doesn’t happen often, I’ve near heard of another case, I think it was just to make a point).

Paul also says that while we are not to judge the world for being the way it is, we are not to associate with people in the church who claim to be holy but still act like the world.

“I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.” 1 Corinthians 5:11 (This version includes “abusive” others don’t, but the idea is there.)

This gets me to thinking about how people tend to split into two camps about abusers:

There’s the people who are so angry about it they stop seeing abusers as human. You should see the death threats against fictional characters that Webtoon and YouTube are littered with, and probably concerning real life stuff also.

Then there’s people who recognize abusers are still wounded human beings, but use that as a reason to stay with them and give them a sort of emotional life support that just barely keeps them functionality at status quo, usually worse.

I am not in either camp, but I do lean more toward staying away from them, as I think the Bible teaches to do anyway.

There’s an anime coming to mind that depicts this struggle well, called Torodora

Image result for Toradora images

(Tiger Dragon for you language buffs) in which the main girl had a toxic father, and the main guy encourages her to “reconcile” and give him a chance when he shows up randomly in her life, her dad says all the right things, and seems really repentant.

Image result for Toradora images Taiga and her dad

Then after things go well for a few weeks, there’s a play that Taiga (the girl) is going to have the lead role in, and her dad promises to come see. As you can guess, he doesn’t show up, and instead of calling her himself, he calls Ryuuji, (the main guy) to ask him to tell her for him, that something came up.

Ryuuji can’t understand how the guy could be such a jerk, after seeming so sincere, then Taiga’s best friend drops the final death bomb on him by informing him that the same thing happened a year or so ago, same act, and Taiga went with it, only to be disappointed. Ryuuji feels horrible for not listening when she warned him, and pressure in Taiga based on his preconceived notions of her situation, but he learns from it.

Ryuuji makes the same mistake I’ve made myself, and have felt other people made with me, and still do. He judges by his own experience and the very few things he sees about someone else.

People who haven’t had abusive parents tend to hear how we victim-kids talk about our parents, and think “Wow, they’re a brat.” Because we’ll say things like “My parents don’t love me” and “Yeah, that’s my dad, what a jerk.” “I just can’t believe him” “I don’t miss him” etc.

And yeah, bratty kids do say it, but we have to remember, everyone who fake whines about stuff that’s not actually bad is doing it in imitation of people who have had serious problems.

Like people jokingly say they have depression because depressed people abound so much right now, but it’s not a joke to someone who really has it, and it probably feels like overstating it to them, whether they say so or not.

Or people saying they have a problem with binging when they really couldn’t, while people suffer with real additions around them and don’t think it’s funny.

It’s the same with having bad parents, people will joke and whine about it who shouldn’t precisely because of the attention it gets them to sound like people who do. It’s the difference between real and fake ailments.

And anyone with experience with learn to tell the genuine victims from the fakers very quickly. I’ve gotten fairly good at it myself in a short amount of time.

But I’ve been treated like a faker. Faking my problems to get attention has always been disgusting to me, I can’t say that even as a kid I would do that very often, if at all, and as an adult, I don’t pretend to have problems I don’t have.

The lasting damage from being emotionally abused is that I assume everyone disapproves of me, constantly, and it’s taken a whole year and a half away form my dad to even crack that image enough for me to see some light on the other side. I hope one day I will not feel that way at all, but it’s been hard to shake, even after years of trying.

My aunt has been treating us like fakes who are making a mountain out of a molehill, and our dad talked to us the same way. It’s like it’s nothing to them that we got so miserable we had to kick him out or we’d run off ourselves. They don’t get it.

Well, people who refuse to see the obvious cannot be taught, it’s the sad truth.

Remember my last post, when I talked about PH, and how the truth sets Lauren free?

See post here:

Losing the Value of Life

Today I want to write about a phenomenon I’ve been noticing for years, but, somehow, it was just this week I began to draw connections as to why. First, I want to illustrate what I’m thinking of: In simple words, this phenomena is “a loss in the value of human life.” I think, in general, … Continue reading Losing the Value of Life

The Chosen

I recently joined the millions of other Christians in my country who have been watching the new series “the Chosen.” Some say it’s the best show about Jesus to come out. And I’ve made it through all the available episodes, and I’ve been enjoying it. This wouldn’t be a very interesting post if that was … Continue reading The Chosen

Well, it does when she accepts it, there’s plenty of truth she’s still fighting in the story, that’s at the basis of her dysfunction.

And to tell the truth about yourself is very, very hard.

For me, it’s a question I have a lot. Am I a worse person than I realize? Do I lie to myself. Am I not as kind and compassionate as I think?

But even asking that question, in earnest, shows I am more those things than someone like my dad, who will make excuse possibly to his dying day, if yesterday was any indication. I know his father did, I visited him just a day or two before he died. Still full of dishonesty, though he had made huge strides in forgiveness compared to how he’d been a few years ago.

I will say, trying to be better than your abusive parent is a low bar, my dad aimed for that, and failed because he had a warped perception of what “better” really meant. If better meant not smacking us as hard, and raging at us over every little thing, he only succeeded at one of those things. If better meant being less selfish, he never succeeded at all.

“It’s been a long road losing all I own, you don’t know what you got until you’re gone, and it’s a nasty habit, spitting at all you have,

but if you’re doing all the leaving, then it’s never your love lost, if you leave before the start, than there was never love at all.

Heaven knows I’m prone to leave the only God I should’ve loved, but you’re far too beautiful to leave me.” (The Oh Hellos, In Memoriam.)

You shouldn’t aim to be better than someone else, you should aim to be as good as you can be. As loving, as pure, as brave, as wise, and then you have no real limit, you can always grow.

My family and I will find some way to deal with the crazy of our relatives, but we don’t intend to be a part of it.

My sisters and I laugh about how whacked our situation must sound to people who don’t know the intimate details. Our little unit was supposed to be the “normal” one in the dysfunctional family that was the stuff TV shows are made of. My grandmother once attacked some police officer. My step family got into occult stuff. My uncle was in a cult for years. Because my mom is the “sane” one, no one could believe she married my dad, and it’s the main reason us girls turned out as normal as we did. No one thought we’d be the ones to kick someone out and actually mean it, not just doing it for a power move like the rest of the family.

I am learning to think about it less often, I’ve gotten used to it.

I wonder what my dad would think if I told him we’ve been perfectly fine this whole time without him. In fact, we rejoice in his absence, and all of us have had nightmares about him returning. I’ve said I’d go through it all again before I’d live in the same house as him ever.

You can’t imagine till you’ve gone through it what an utter relief it is not to feel your life and happiness depend solely on one person.

I’m sure he can’t fathom it. He thinks we’ll cave. We’ll get tired of this. He doesn’t know I’m already planning my whole life out without him in it as more than a vague figure. Sometimes, the abuse seems unreal to me, like the difference between then and now is so great, I almost can’t believe I was ever in that place.

I am getting used to not being treated like dirt, and I’m determined never to go back to that willingly.

Because I am doing better, it’s easy to question if we have overreacted. If I were just going by my awareness of it, I might think my aunt was right.

But, I know what God has directed us to do, and I do have people to confer with to remember what happened. I don’t think we should harp on it, but it’s important not to forget, because you have to be able to protect yourself by setting boundaries.

All this progress could go away if we let ourselves be deceived again, but we don’t have to let ourselves, it’s a delicate matter, but it’s not impossible.

As far as I’m concerned, reconciliation means we forgive and can be on peaceful terms. We are ready for that, my dad is the one incapable of letting it go. So, it’ll be on him, and there’s nothing more I can do about it.

And that’s okay.

And if you have someone like that, just try to believe, it is not your job to take care of them. You don’t owe them anything.

All we owe each other in this life is love, and respect for each other’s humanity, anything beyond that is something you have to choose carefully to offer the trustworthy people. No one can demand it, if they try, they won’t get it.

I think that’s all I got for now. 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.