Anime Bondage: Naruto (pt 2)

Well, no one read the first part of this yet, but far be it form me to let that deter me from writing what I want.

Heck, I’ll read it if no one else will.

So…

Sasuke is the worst. But I think he’s of a different kind of bondage than the other three I mentioned, so I’m reserving him for a separate post.

I’m still talking about how to deal with bondage you didn’t really choose, and with that, we have two characters left. (Probably not the only two on the show, but I like these ones, so let’s do this.)

Neji Hyuga:

Neji’s story is somewhat like Gaara’s. As a kid he was born into the Branch part of the Hyuga clan, he was branded with their special curse mark so that he would always have to protect Hinata, the daughter from the Head of the Clan, who was Neji’s father’s twin brother.

They’re cousins, if you’re confused.

Neji’s a pretty big jerk when he’s introduced, and goes on about destiny more than Pyhrra Nikos, and with a pretty twisted view of it. He thinks it cannot be changed, that we are stuck in certain roles, because the curse mark prevents the bearer from rebelling against the head family.

Neji’s a gifted Ninja, but feels he will never get to pursue that as he would choose, but as has been chosen for him. and resents that his father died to save his uncle.

It’s a messed up story, like most of the character’s are, and it wouldn’t be anime if people didn’t have daddy issues and tragedy in their past.

But Neji’s is resolved rather quickly, and he begins to become a better person, after embracing the path of forgiveness, and deciding to try his hardest to live his own life.

As far as spiritual matters go, that’s an excellent way to begin.

Neji’s story is a prime example of something called Generational Sin. Another anime, Fruits Basket, is pretty much devoted to that subject. And I know I mentioned it before in another post.

Generational Sin is a sin that passes from person to person in a family. The parents teach their children, who teach their children, who teach their children. Often the sin is started by one bad seed, and becomes a pattern over the course of just two or three generations.

Feuds start because of this.

And if it’s strong enough, the Sin can become a curse.

A curse doesn’t have to be bad luck, or even being forced to be evil, in fact, curses are far more often being given a tenancy to a certain self destructive behavior.

If you hear something enough times, and don’t actively resist it, you start to believe it.

Kids who grow up being told their stupid, and won’t ever succeed begin to live in a way that guarantees they won’t. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I think, really, almost all prophecies are self-fulfilling, what we speak effects what will happen.

Neji’s Curse Mark works as a visual representation of hos Family Curses operate. They are all about control, you can’t do a certain thing, you can’ be a certain things, you have to act a certain way.

And this has nothing to do with what class you’re in, all that’s superficial. I’m talking about things like holding onto a grudge, criticizing people constantly, addictions, anger issues, deceitfulness.

People used to get branded by what family they were. IF you read any book from the 18th or 19th century, chances are you’ll see references to someone from a family who’s known for dishonesty, or sluttishness, or pride. It’s all over L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series, for instance.

And if you try to break out of your family pattern, as C. S. Lewis points out in The Four Loves, the family will bring down all their force on you to get you to conform.

This has occasionally worked in someone’s favor. Pressure to be good is not always a bad thing, if the person retains their individuality even so.

Neji’s cousin Hinata is, despite her position, a kind person who doesn’t seem to blame Neji at all for his resentment of her. Though she eventually learns to stand up for herself.

Within families, there are usually a few individual who break the cycle. For whatever reason, they don’t fall prey to the temptations the other members do. Much might depend on how well they understand why those temptations work.

In the example I’m using, though so far it hasn’t been explained, one could infer that Hinata simply noticed how the Curse Mark and the system in place was cruel, and bred resentment. She noticed that hatred and mistrust were at the center of it, and she decided not to be full of those things. She’s far from fully understanding, but she’s not cruel.

Neji himself realizes that part of the Curse’s effectiveness is making you live by it, by hating people so much that you have to be forced to help. His own father realized that if he chose to protect his brother, then the Curse wasn’t making him do it by force, and so, in way, he was free.

In Spiritual terms, Family Curses are hard to break without self awareness. But once you realize the patterns in place, it can be simple. It’s not easy.

In my own life, I have a father who carried on the curse of resentment and fault finding with me that he learned form his own parents. Despite hating that they did it, and recognizing it was bad, he has not yet shaken it off himself, or come to really understand why it was so destructive, and so he put it on me. We do what we are taught.

But, I’ve chosen a different path. It’s no good to just vow never to be like your parents. You have to dig deep into your own soul, you have to learn why your parents fell to these sins, why you yourself are tempted.

It’s no good denying it, we like to think we’d never be like our parents, but we inherit their weaknesses.

The good news is, those weaknesses can become our strengths and our children’s strengths if they are exposes and turned around.

I have had tenancies to tear people down and take a negative approach to things, much like my father, and to wallow in self-pity instead of responsibility.

It’s been hard to break that, because if he got away with it, why can’t I?

But, I don’t want to be that person.

I’ve had to dig up the roots of why I do this, for myself, and not just blaming my dad for every bad habit. After all, it’s not his fault I’m tempted to bet he same way, that’s my own nature, wanting to take the easy way out.

And, the Curse, unfair as it seems, is the easy way out. Change is hard, and it’s often discouraged by your family.

When Christians address Family curses, we break them off, but we also focus on healing from the pain. Because the pain has to be healed if you’re going to start moving forward. Forgiveness is a big step to healing the pain.

Forgiveness isn’t just about letting your family off the hook, that’s not what it does, forgiveness is not hanging on to their actions, because that keeps you tied to them.

I forgive my dad, because he’s my dad, and because I will not let him dictate my life anymore by blaming him for everything. I don’t ignore what he did, but I don’t cherish it either.

Neji does, thankfully, realize this. For him, breaking the Curse would be a simple matter, since he’s already let go of it.

I’ll get more into what happens if you don’t let go when I tackle Sasuke, and a character from a different show also, but for now, thanks for reading–Natasha.

Anime Bondage: Naruto (pt 1)

Okay….here we go.

If you read my previous post: Thank you, first of all.

This is going to be fun.

So, why use anime to talk about this?

Because anime literally has spiritual battles in pretty much every show. Even innocent shows tend to use things like aura; the show Fruits Basket uses the idea of thought Waves; and curses.

What brought this to a head for me was recently starting Naruto, and Fairy Tail. I know I’m late to the party, but I never watched anime till the last 10 months or so. I know that most weebos probably will already know about Naruto.

I’m getting the worst over with first, because Naruto has unusually dark examples of this, but with both Naruto and Fairy Tail I will be going over the kind of spiritual problem that is not actually your fault.

That said, let’s…wade in, you really should’t dive into this subject headfirst.

So, Naruto had 4 huge examples of demons and spiritual issues, and plenty of smaller ones.

If you watched it you’ve already guessed I’m going to bring up Gaara and Sasuke, but I also want to use Neji and Naruto himself as examples.

I’ll tackle Gaara first, since he’s the biggest, in a way.

For the non-fans, here’s the skinny on this character.

Gaara of the desert: Tragic past, has sand raccoon spirit inside him that kills people, can’t sleep because of it or it will take over, was bound to the spirit since birth.

Gaara did not choose to be possessed or to be bound to a demon. As he tells his story, his village put the monster inside of him in order to gain power for their people, they killed his mother in order to link it to him. It’s an awful story.

(I’ve only gotten through part of the first show, by the way, so if I get anything wrong, please forgive me. It will still illustrate my point either way.)

Gaara, as a child, didn’t like being that way. He wondered why people were afraid of him, why he kept hurting them by accident, and why he felt unloved.

Then, as the story goes, his uncle told him the truth, and told him no one would love him, so he should love himself.

Gaara, under the trauma of the moment, snapped and resolved to live only to kill people who tried to kill him, or who struck him as powerful enough to validate his existence…or to kill in general.

We might all wish this story was an exaggeration, but it’s not. We’ve heard the news stories of people like this.

But I can go further, because I know also what caused it.

The show doesn’t hide that it’s a demonic problem. This kind is a serous kind, it’s something known as a blood oath or blood tie.

It’s most common in cults to do it.

My family knew a girl once who had a blood oath with an evil spirit.

I prefer not to get into it too much, but these oaths usually involve sacrificing an animal, or cutting yourself. The Bible tells us never to do this as an act of penance or worship. Self-harm is forbidden.

God made the body, He made it to work. He made it as a gift to us, he does not want us beating it up like its garbage.

The result of a blood oath is not something I know much about, I can say it’s likely to be like Gaara, the person will probably deal with not being able to control themselves, or with being haunted by pain and guilt. With feeling alone.

The really serious part though is that just casting it out is not likely to work with that kind of bondage.

Every bondage can be broken, but spiritual warfare is very specific.

I’m not writing out steps to it here, it would be foolish for me to try to walk you through it. You may not need it, and on the off chance you’re reading this and you do need it, you’d need a more specific approach than a blog can provide.

This is just to help identify the problem and solution. And if you’re into anime, it might also be interesting for you.

Anyway, with a blood tie, with any tie where death was part of how it happened, you need to know Jesus, and His blood has to cover you, His death has to free you. That’s the only thing powerful enough. An evil power has to be cancelled by a higher good power.

Holy water isn’t going to cut it, in other words. Actually, Holy Water is not scriptural, I’ve never heard of it working.

Gaara’s case goes further though than just the blood tie.

The strength of all bondage is lies. A curse can’t stick without a cause.

Gaara was first neglected, then traumatized, at a very young age before he could even begin to know how to make sense of it. Sadly, this is common to many kids, especially ones whose parents dabble in the occult. They often don’t get a choice about being raised in the darkness of that.

But there are amazing stories of people coming out of that thanks to God’s intervention.

With trauma, you have to walk through it. Demons stick to brokenness like sharks to blood, or leeches, if you will. It’s necessary to seek healing if something terrible happened to you that started your problem, or to someone you know. That applies even if it’s more emotional and not spiritual, but it’s rarely one or the other, it’s almost always both.

There is healing in Jesus.

There is one more part to freedom.

Gaara took the wrong path, he stands as a foil to Naruto, when he’s first introduced before his redemption arc, because he took the dark path.

He wasn’t given much of a choice, unlike Naruto, he can’t control his power well, he also was born to be an assassin, and his village didn’t really make it an option. A man who’s got no way out will usually learn to like his prison, in a twisted way, because the torment would be too much to bear otherwise.

It’s like being a masochist. Something is broken inside you, but you can’t fix it, so you come to enjoy being broken and bruised as a way out.

In Mark, I think, Jesus casts a demon out of a boy who had it since childhood, and it tried to kill him with fire and water many times. Jesus says that this kind only comes out by prayer and fasting.

It’s harder with long-standing problems.

If you have had a problem like this, don’t try to deal with it alone. Seek deliverance, but use wisdom. See what kind of reputation the place has. Or find some Christian who understand these things to pray with you privately. It’s always better to have help, more than one person preferably, with things this intense. As Gaara points out, Solitude eats away at everyone if it’s not addressed.

And, never believe you are a monster, if you have a monstrous feeling, it’s not you. There’s a way out.

Thanks for sticking it out, until nest time, stay true–Natasha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heart recovering after abuse.

It’s been a month since my dad moved out.

Things are slowly beginning to feel different.

Yet, it surprised me how little changed at the same time.

My dad has been so far removed from my life for so many years, that I lost no more substantial contact than the toxic words and an occasional family game night that went okay.

I wonder, if I knew anyone who’d go through this already, I’d ask them if they felt the same, or if the abuse was so involved in them that it was an immediate release.

Slowly, feelings of relief have begun to creep in, but only small ones so far. My mind still hasn’t really grasped it.

My friends have been great about it though.

I also, surprisingly, almost feel like I miss him.

I know it is not so unusual for people on the receiving ends of abuse to feel sympathy for the abuser. It’s not, I think, wholly bad. If you can still see how that person has real needs and feelings even if they are cruel, you are less likely to dehumanize them by being cruel in return.

Though, perhaps never standing up to someone is a form of dehumanizing them, because it keeps them on a pedestal of fear.

I tried to pity my dad so that I would not hate him. Hate would turn me into a person I do not want to be.

I’m not willing to pay the price of hatred, the loss of everything I can feel joy and gladness over, and every other relationship.

I find myself thinking a lot about new beginnings. I had begun to wonder if my dad would hold me back for many years yet, out of fear of me breaking free. My dad never, perhaps, knew he was doing this, but his insecurities did it for him.

I also still feel like he’ll get at me somehow to punish me for this, I think that is also common to people like me.

It’s not, however, completely unfounded, he’s the type of person to do it. I wonder if my success ever depends on him again, if he’ll try to sink me on purpose.

These anxieties keep bugging me, though I do not take them especially seriously.

It’s hard to move forward. I must rethink everything about my life, in a sense, and ask how much of it was affected by the toxicity.

That I still enjoy things at all, and am even able to open up to people, I credit God with.

God has ministered to me through people, often people are imperfect about it, they give up too easily, put their own spin on it, or push too hard when you most need them to ease up and let you breath, but even so, that there are some who try is encouraging to me, because I can hope that I will learn to trust them.

I have trust issues. My dad proved himself untrustworthy many, many times. Every time I needed him, pretty much, he failed me. Then, he blamed me for never relying on him.

I ended up with a very weird complex due to this. If I ever do open myself up to someone, I usually feel like they are just bearing it out of a sense of duty. I tend to withdraw, and then push forward in strange ways.

I tend to not put myself forward just when I most want to be noticed, and then to not set enough boundaries when I am asked for help.

In one way, it’s because my idea of giving is that it is limitless, even if as a human I must rest from it sometimes, but it’s also because I see my services as worth so little.

On top of that, I am confident most of the time, and then I have very poignant insecurities on certain things that surprise people.

Overall, I believe the Holy Spirit has healed me enough that my stronger side is the good things, and the insecurities, while they give me trouble, do not rule me. But they influence me more than I thought.

In the absence of my dad’s abuse, I almost seem to be trying to invent it, to recreate the same feeling, since it was my normal…at the same time, I’m fighting it.

I think, I want to defeat it once and for all, and I could not defeat it in him, so I want to pick a fight with someone I can defeat it with, and finally win.

I could prove I was worthy of more by being strong enough to stand up for myself, or I could plead until someone finally took pity on me like I wanted my dad to.

It’s strange to no longer be the victim. I wanted someone to hear my case for so long, and now it happened, it felt so short, and I am no longer a victim.

In a way, I stopped being one in my mind a long time ago, but the marks of it remain on my soul, where only healing can remove them.

I basically sent my dad the message: NO, you cannot do this to me anymore.

Now, all that remains is to receive the deliverance that came, and move on. Build a new life.

Someday, I hope my dad can come back into it, when he’s had a change of heart.

Can I move from fighting for my own survival to fighting for other people?

Thought I never let my heart die entirely over the years, by giving it to God, it could not help but take damage form this. Now I’ve been looking at it, wondering how it’s doing…

Hello my old heart, how have you been? Are you still there inside my chest? I’ve been so worried, you’ve been so still, barely beating at all…

Hello my old heart, it’s been so long, since I’ve given you away. Every day, I add another stone, to the walls I built around you to keep you safe…

Hello my old heart, how have you been? How is it being locked away? Don’t you worry, in there you’re safe, it’s true, you’ll never beat, but you’ll never break.Cause nothing lasts forever, some things aren’t meant to be, but you’ll never find the answers, until you set your old heart free…

I began the process of taking down the stones around my heart years ago… by which I mean, God began to heal me. Yet, I had an active role in it too, we choose our path.

Still, I knew that there was more, my capacity to give and receive love is far from full. I seem to have shut down a good portion of it, sufficing on a little bit from time to time.

Like how my dad would occasionally be amiable, never really loving, but not hostile.

I went through a phase years ago of feeling I could be loved all the time, and loved deeply. I’m not sure what happened. I think as people failed me more and I got distracted by adulthood, I stopped tending to my needs as much.

It’s really hard to come out of that. My mind still thinks it’s true, but my heart has a much harder time committing to it.

So, I want my old heart to come back alive again.

Until next time–Natasha.

Getting out of an Abusive Situation.

This is going to be difficult.  I wouldn’t write about it, except I think my experience might benefit other people.

If you’ve followed me for a while you might remember me mentioning having problems with my dad before.

Since I keep myself anonymous I feel I can share this without disgracing him to anyone who would recognize it.

The problems between my dad and I were not just misunderstandings, the situation was actually an abusive one.

I wasn’t physically abused more than once or twice, and not severely. I’ve been hit one time, flung out of chairs and rooms a  couple times, threatened  several times with violence; but I’ve never been beat on, thank goodness.

I was verbally abused more, but even that was not as often as I hear about in other cases. I wan’t yelled insults at very often.

The kind of abuse I was subjected to all the time was Emotional.

My dad is a very manipulative person, he uses guilt to control people. he is able to play the victim to perfection, and to lie, to feign being penitent in order to get you to ease up on him and let things go back to normal.

I don’t need to give a lot of specific examples and drag that out. But if you’ve been manipulated by love before you know the ways it works.

You know how you are always trying to please someone who is determined to be offended and the victim no matter what you do.

How the person will refuse to forgive you for mistakes that were minor, and then not apologize for things they did that were appalling.

The worst of it is the justifying. After threatening or doing something to me, my dad would say he was just so desperate, he had no other way to handle it, because I just made it so difficult for him.

A lot of horse hockey if you ask me. But I fell for it so many times, and so did the rest of my family.

I also got the blame heaped on me for everything that went wrong. I know now that my dad neglected my needs on top of abusing my emotional attachment to him.

Some might  be quick to say that people my age make themselves victims over anything now, and that we assign terms to every little thing.

I doubt anyone would say so to me, but because it does happen, I want to clarify that I am not about being the victim.

It took over 9 years of this pattern being open, + the previous 11 of it only being in the background, for me to recognize it was abuse. I thought it could never happen in my family.

Also, I call it abuse because of the impact. Had my dad’s sins only damaged him and made him look foolish, they would be ordinary selfishness and lack of self control. Bad, but not threats to anyone but him.

It was because this cycle sucked the life out of my family, destroyed a lot of my self worth for many years, and gave my siblings major guilt problems and my mom a miserable marriage that I call it abuse.

Abuse in the literal sense, misusing something in a terrible way. Love can be abused also. That is what The Four Loves and Till We Have Faces are about.

I’ve had my needs trampled on and my efforts spit in the face of many times.

I may go into it more some other time. But for now I want to focus on something different.

It’s over.

Not completely. There is plenty to work through. My dad is still a royal mess and he has not yet repented.

but things are never going back to the same cycle.

Because we did something about it.

My family came together, even my grandmother, and agreed my dad should move out.

A thing that is likely obvious to all of you reading this, but when you are in the cycle, that solution seems impossible.

My dad had all of us cowed for so long, and I was the least under his thumb, but because of that I got written off a lot. It was amazing to finally start to get my voice back as I and my siblings explained that we would move out of the house if our dad did not, but that he clearly should, because our mom needed to be free too.

And, after feeling it would never happen, it did.

The whole thing went down in under 2 weeks, actually. It’s now been a little more than a week since he got the last of the major stuff from the house.

Someday maybe I’ll be able to understand how to explain what changed, things happened so fast.

All I can think clearly about is that I knew that something had to break, that I could not stand years and years more of this. I knew that I did not want to see my family live like that.

I knew also that I was strong. Years of isolation made me draw close to God and become very independent. I am already more out of the cycle than the rest of my family is. I knew that even if I stayed trapped in this for more time, I wouldn’t be crushed.

But I knew no such thing of my mom and siblings.

And it made me mad how the lies that my dad told got swallowed by everyone.

Doing this meant burning some bridges. I may have permanently lost any chance of being liked by some of his friends and cut ties with my former church entirely.

Whether my dad will ever forgive me, I do not know. I did nothing wrong, but I do not think he will see it that way for quite a while.

I do not feel as upset about it as I did. There was a sense of guilt for the first few days.

I knew it was the right thing to do, but no one wants to have to do that to their own father. Plus the week he’d put me through was hellish.

I am also sad that it had to come to this. I know I had no choice, we had tried counseling, prayer, communication, and every other thing we could think of. Nothing worked.

What about God?

I wonder too, if you will wonder, how I as a Christian, feel about being abused and having to take action about it. God did not stop it. And God did not stop my dad, who claims to be a christian and hear from him.

That might be better explained in another post, but in brief: I know a lot about my dad’s walk with God, and I know that God did talk to him through people, and to him directly. I know I asked God for help. I know God tried to reach my dad. My dad is a sieve, he recognizes the hand of God briefly, but it passes through him and he forgets it and goes back to the same old ways.

Also he hates me, and never really wanted to change toward me, but wanted me to  suffer. And this goes back to problems that started before I was even born.

I have no doubt that God wanted to make this better. I spoke to God about this decision, and He was not silent, as people often say He is during trouble. (I don’t doubt that they are being truthful, it just did not happen to me this time.)

God made it clear to me that He had given it to us to change this. He did not say why, but that he wanted it to be through us. I’m sure He has His own reasons.

From my human perspective, I can see the value in us learning how to help ourselves, while still praying and relying on God’s guidance throughout the process. We used the gifts of Common Sense and discretion that he gave us. I never felt abandoned by God at any point during this whole ordeal.

I hope that answers the basic question.

Christians are not perfect. But I would never say that excuses abusers. That is not a problem you can just say you’ll work on, it must be cut out like a tumor. Gross, yes, but so is abuse.

Some Practical Advice about Ending Abuse:

Action needs to be taken.

Never, ever, expect an abuser to be the first to change. It may happen in rare cases, but if you are not seeing it now, do not wait for it. Do something.

Don’t act alone: We went to multiple people for help, I kept at least two people updated about what changed day by day in case something went wrong, and so I could have clear headed people confirming my decisions.

I set up meetings, asked questions, and planned my actions so that my dad could not stop them.

Be Informed: I made sure we were legally in the clear.

No two situations are exactly the same, so if you know of someone in this situation or you are in it, you’ll have to figure out the best plan. But I’m imploring you, do not do nothing.

Be Cautious: Also, I never confronted my dad personally about it, once it got really bad. My mom did, but she was safer from being physically lashed out at, though she got lots of verbal backlash for her efforts.

I recommend not confronting an abuser alone ever, or with anyone they can attack without serious consequences.

But, do something.

That’s what I’ve learned. Whatever you do, inaction is what kills you faster than any amount of mistakes along the way will.

I regret little of what I’ve done over the years, and more of what I could not do because of age or lack of understanding.

I’m happy God has led me into freedom, even if it took a long time, it was the perfect timing in the realm of what was possible.

I am learning not to complain about how deliverance comes, so long as it comes.

And that is all for now, though you can be sure I’ll be processing this and having more to say about it, until next time–Natasha.

 

Rebirth.

I’m still perusing the 39 clues series, I just finished book 4. Despite my post about how profound these books actually were, I was surprised to din this passage:

Irina stared ahead at the wall. Rebirth, she realized. This chamber wasn’t about death at all. It was about rebirth.

Could that happen? After a life lived, after choice after choice after choice led you someplace small and dark…could you…change?

To give you a little context, Irina is an ex-KGB spy with the expected checkered past to match, and she is looking at an Egyptian painting of a queen going into the afterlife.

She recognizes the subtle idea hidden in almost all mythology somewhere, of new life.

This is not really a romantization on my part, or hers, surely anyone can see that any idea of the afterlife is a suggestion that we can have a new kind of life. Generally a better one than we have here.

Some people think that this being common to all cultures is a sign of how we fear death and want some kind of weak comfort out of it.

Such a person writes off heaven as wishful thinking.

What that person would be missing is two things: One, why do we fear death? And two, why are our ideas of what happens after it so oddly similar across culture. There’s an afterlife, but many common themes in even what kind of after life it is emerge. Themes like wealth, ruling, reunion with loved ones, and there being two different kinds of afterlife. The idea of being able to help our loved ones achieve the good life is a theme in many religions also, from Native American to Egyptian to the Catholic idea of Purgatory. (to be fair, I believe the idea of paying people out of it is now old, but it was the norm in Martin Luther’s day.)

But why do we fear death at all? And why do some religions even carry an idea of dying before you die? Of getting renewed even in this life?

Irina is contemplating this, and you could almost see her quoting those lines for Jean Valjean in Les Miserables: “Take an eye for an eye, turn your heart into stone, this is all I have lived for, this is all I have known.”

Since I was using the 39 clues as an example of family problems, why not put this into that context?

It’s opening a can of worms to even ask how many of us have lived to get even with their relatives who hurt them. To see that they get paid back.

Or, how many of us have, as in Irina’s case, lived under the thumb of some of them. Unable to free ourselves because of our own weakness and desires to get ahead.

Never let it be said the root of fear and cowardice is not selfishness.

I can just feel how uncomfortable even thinking about it would make some of us, myself included. Ugh, I don’t want to think about it. How could I be so stupid as to try to even the odds? How can I still sometimes just wish to retaliate, regardless of the consequences.

If you’ve never felt like this,you are probably perfect…or you have no family. Sorry if that’s the case, but it’s a safe bet most of you do.

It’s not really mistakes that ruin a family dynamic, but the inability to move past them.

Whether someone can’t forget because it was just too traumatic, or because they are too spiteful to not want a shot at revenge, or because the other person is still dong it and constantly reminds them, family drama is a mess.

How many of us have the estranged sibling, the difficult child, the absent or abusive parent, or the critical extended family?

You don’t have to raise your hand.

Just thinking about it is painful.

So, what do we do? We have a terrible time even forgiving ourselves, let alone them.

It’s the sheer beauty of what she sees that make Irina start to wonder about rebirth. Could it be true?

Once, she’s back out, away from it, in the distraction of everyday, noisy life; she pushes it away. Yet the seed has been planted. Irina eventually ends up turning around.

Hope of that sorts sees fragile, better in fiction, but in our real sometimes awful situations, is it even possible?

Yes, it is.

The path of rebirth begins with wanting it. Sometimes it takes a terrible loss, a huge blow up, or sometimes it takes seeing a picture of something better. I’ve wanted it after seeing movies with more positive role models than I always had in my real life.

For your sake, I hope your calling comes through beauty, but may times it is through pain. Sometimes a mix of both.

Really, the method is not the important part. What we do with it is. Do we finally open ourselves up to rebirth? New life? A new way? Whatever the cost?

Or do we go back out into the everyday, noisy, busy crowds and lose ourselves in them.

How does rebirth happen?

It always involves a death first.

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” Matthew 16:25.

There really is no avoiding my faith while talking about rebirth, even if I wished to. Jesus died for us already, but He also teaches us that we must die ourselves in order to be reborn.

“3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

“…And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3)

You know what’s interesting is that I’ve read and watched all sorts of genres, and been debriefed on related ones, to the point where I know the idea of dying is almost always tied to redemption and new beginnings.

The more mystical genres, such as many animes, fantasy movies/shows/books, and superhero sci-fi on occasion, have death along with resurrection. From Dragonball to Harry Potter to time travel epics to Superman, people die and come back to life in order to get final victory.

Genres like The 39 Clues are a little more practical, but the same theme of self sacrifice remains. especially in war stories. It is just irreversible. (The few exceptions to this are usually too weird and creepy to be valuable.)

Irina’s story also involves death in order for her redemption to be complete.

The idea I’m presenting is not really disputed, in fact, it just goes unacknowledged by most people.

God promises that with the death of our old self, the rebirth of our new selves will happen immediately.

“26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36.)

Change starts with you. That is perhaps the truest teaching of Gandhi, and it was hardly original. It might be more precise to say change starts within you.

All you have to do is ask and want it. Really want it. Sometimes we just have to be sick of ourselves before we can be willing to let go of all our grudges and selfishness.

Irina was sick of herself. And so was I, when it was my turn. I like myself much better now.

Until next time–Natasha.

You become what you hate.

On the same note as my previous post, I have more inspiration from my most recent anime obsession.

I didn’t have time for it and it was off topic anyway, but it was something I just had to write about.

On My Hero Academia there is a character called Shouto (Shoto?) Todoroki, not sure I spelt either of those right.

He has a pretty tragic backstory, as even the main character of the show, Deku, admits. Purposely more like a traditional superhero’s backstory instead of the more conventional ones most of the others have.

I’ll just sum it up, abusive father, mom went off deep end because of it, and he has a permanent scar on his face from where she burned it.

Yeah, most of the fandom hates his dad’s guts.

Anyway, Todoroki starts off as a cool and composed guy, not really friendly or nice, just kind of there. And stays that way up until the tournament when Deku successfully pushes him to break down his walls and come to terms with himself. But Todoroki ends up still needing to revisit that, and as of now, is still dealing with his resentment and hate for his father, and his issues with not wanting to become him.

All too familiar to many of us with parents who made us miserable.

Of course, it’s a little rougher when half your body is literally reminding you of said parent every day. Ouch.

Yeah, your heart breaks a little for the poor guy.

But watching it, I realized something about hate, and about forgiveness, that wasn’t really clear to me before.

I’ve grown up hearing that we should forgive. That our salvation actually depends on it. But sometimes the reasons behind this are passed over.

Hate, resentment, and bitterness tend to blind us to their own effects. It’s sad, but most of us have people we resent, even if we think we are well-adjusted and have moved on.

True forgiveness is rare because it is really, really hard.

People will say unforgiveness will put you in a prison. That forgiving really frees you.

Todoroki made this clear in a new way.

Another student accuses him of having his father’s eyes, eyes filled with hate at something. This horrifies him, as you can imagine.

And yikes, how many of us have been told we’re like our parent whom we feel is so unkind to us?

I have. I always hated it.

The thing is, I am like that parent in many ways. Not necessarily bad ways. But that last thing we want is to turn into the kind of person who hurt us.

But the kicker is, hate, it does that.

Hate made Todoroki more like his father than he realized. He treated people the same way. Maybe his was born out of his pain more than his pride, yet it ended up having the same effect, and unfortunately, pain often turns into pride.

We can be so good as convincing ourselves we’re okay without love. And okay shutting off a part of our lives.

I do that more than I admit, I think. I don’t realize I’m doing it. But I prefer to forget all the pain and crap happened to me.

Especially when it borders on abuse, or some kind of unfair treatment, you want to deny it really happened to you.

In Todoroki’s case, the evidence is right there on his face for all to see. Many people have scars like that, maybe not  on their face, but things they can’t remove that remind them of what happened.

Often, like him, they choose to withdraw emotionally. To become cold, hard like rock, and determined to prove they can survive on their own.

But if we think about it honestly (hard to do) we’ll have to recognize that parents and other perpetrators, they probably made that same choice back when they went wrong. They chose to withdraw, and then they became abusive, or cruel, or bitter.

And since sin always springs form similar sources, it’s in repeating their emotional sin that we start to repeat their actions.

That’s why not forgiving is so very dangerous. You will become what you do not forgive.

Racism goes both ways. One race abuses another, then the abused race starts to hate them, then when the odds shift to their favor they often do the same thing.

People who obsess over what was done to them start to neglect their own responsibilities. They end up hurting other people.

“Hurting people hurt people,” is a saying that is true. The only way to not hurt people is to heal the hurt in yourself. To seek healing really, since we can’t heal ourselves.

It’s in forgiving my parent that I’ve started to see why they are the way they are, why it’s wrong, and how I tend to do the same thing out of my own insecurity.

It takes strength to say the cycle ends here. To decide you will pursue healing until you no longer have forgiveness.

But in the end, if you want to be better than them, you have to do that.

Strangely, grace is not only what saves us from our own sins, but giving it is what saves us from other people’s.

Sin is contagious just as much for the pain it cause as for the pleasure. Much like untreated wounds can spread infection.

We should not blame ourselves for what people did to us, we only need to realize it’s up to us to seek healing. We can’t wait for someone else to force it on us.

Deku is a rare find. Most of us will have to make that choice without someone hammering away at our walls until we snap. Though if you have someone like that, good for you.

I still get angry, but I spend so much less time angry than I used to because I’ve begun to realize the real freedom lies in letting it go. It took me over 6 years to get to where I understood this at all, though I mentally accepted it before then, but at last I am starting to feel it.

When you are angry, this is really hard to accept, we have so many excuses to hold onto our hate.

Which is why it takes character to decide to forgive anyway.

You won’t feel it, you’ll feel like your anger is justified, but if you’re honest enough to accept that you need to let it go anyway, then I’m confident you’ll succeed.

It’s not impossible. It just takes patience.

Until next time–Natasha.