New Life, New Season

I suppose it’s unchristian not to do a post about Easter… have I ever done one before?

This may not be the most conventional subject for an Easter post, but I was thinking today about some of my old posts. Back from 2015 and 2016.

I wrote one post about how much I didn’t like being wrong. This was not long after I started my blog, probably just a couple months. Nothing has changed, I still hate being wrong.

Being wrong and surviving

And I wrote another post about forgiveness, at this time I was about 16 or 17, I’d say. I know it was before I moved.

At the time, my dad was still at home of course, and would be for a few more years, and he was as awful as usual, though at that time we interacted less, he was addicted to video games and unless I interfered with that, or was working with him to earn money, we hardly spoke.

By then I was already reading books about healing and coming to realize just how much pain I had from him and my mom. This is an except from a post I wrote at the time.

Then

Letting it go-from another angle.

“Forgiving is hard. Yet, I wonder why? We all make mistakes and so why are we so hard on each other for making them? Maybe we want to see a fairness in others that we don’t possess in ourselves.

Let me be clear; by forgiving I don’t mean letting people get away with serious wrong doing. Nor do I mean living in a sort of denial that the damage other people’s words do to you, is not that bad. It is actually much worse than most of us know. Forgiveness is actually acknowledging they did wrong and letting it go. In the words of Stasi Eldredge “It was wrong, very wrong, and I release you.”

Forgiveness is actually more for us than the offenders… Emotionally most of us have probably heard about the necessity of forgiveness. When you hold on to the actions of another, you build them into your brain. I don’t mean in a mind control sense. But when you hate someone you obsess over them, you think of them and the things they’ve said and done to you; if it’s someone close to you then you struggle with not having their approval on your life even as you despise their opinion. You feel indifferent to their pain and even glad when they suffer. You say you’ll forget them but you can’t, because you can’t let what they’ve done go. If you don’t remember who will? It won’t matter to anyone. And that is what scares us, that our pain won’t make a difference in anything. That we ourselves don’t matter. These people who hurt us were right about us then. The emotional and mental damage this does to us couldn’t be fully disclosed if we took hours and hours to talk about it. To not forgive is to agree with the people who hurt us and to sink to their level at the same time.

That is why the first step toward forgiving is admitting it was wrong and you were damaged. A lot of people don’t get this far. They won’t admit their weakness. Or in some cases they will only admit their weakness but never that they can overcome it. They wallow in their pain all their lives…

So, if you are willing to take step one and admit you have been hurt–bad (And someone may be thinking “I can so do that.” Well hold on.) What is step two? It varies. It may involve crying your heart out. Grieving the wound the Eldredges call it. (I highly recommend their books Wild at Heart or Captivating for more detail on this very important part.) In my own journey of forgiving, I cried several times; I shared my pain with trusted people–but don’t do it with the person who hurt you, that was always a disaster–I prayed about it. To which I attribute all progress I made. Pain can be scary because it is so deep. Sometimes we wish we’d left it alone in apathy and numbness. But really that’s even more frightening.

After sadness, or sometimes before it, will come anger. More anger. And fear. Here we face yet another choice, we can press on, releasing the anger and fear, or we can let it drive us back. At this point you will not feel like forgiving, nor will you feel like the person deserves it, it will be purely a choice. I suggest writing it down. Saying it. “I choose to forgive (insert their name).'”

Now

Now that I know so much more than I did then about the situation, this level of grace on my part astounds me. Yet, I know it wasn’t me, I wan’t that wise, I was simply following what my teachers taught me, I always did have that childlike faith.

Actually for some context, (sorry for burdening you with my dark past), at the time I was attending a very toxic church– not by choice, my father forced us all to go. I hated it. “

Well they hounded us from the pulpit about forgiveness and how unforgiveness would land us in hell.

I don’t disagree, the Bible is pretty clear about that… but this church took it to an extreme that ignored that real damage other people’s sins did to you. No talk of therapy, no talk of long term healing.. I ‘m not sure the idea of emotional healing was ever introduced. I know plenty of the parishioners had family issues.

My dad would repeat all this at home, expressing fears over himself not making it, and praying that we all would. His fear scared me, I would not have felt dubious about my own salvation, but he constantly introduced doubt. Small wonder I still struggle with it.

I’m not naturally much of a doubter, not anymore, but it seems sown into me. Popping up when I least want it to.

My dad also found testimonies on the internet about people who’d been to hell and back, or saw visions, and warned about unforgiveness.

I cannot say how much of it was true, all I know is the Bible has no stories of any Christian visiting hell and coming back, and no precedent for it, though heaven is permitted we know from Paul and John. Perhaps hell is not impossible, though no one would like it, but at the very least, many of the testimonies were too much like Dante’s Inferno, a human’s explanation of what hell would be like, and I am skeptical hell could make any more sense to us than Heaven, and no human would come up with what the Bible says about Heaven (read Ezekiel sometime)

That’s not really the point. I have to thank my dad in a way, that is what pushed me to salvation, finally. One has to learned to be thankful for what good did come of anything in our crappy past, though once I felt offended at the very idea. And I wouldn’t take kindly to anyone else telling me that, since they’d be dismissing what I went through.

No, my dad did a few things for me, though not really out of kindness in this case, it stands more to God’s power that the fear and doubt of those years actually led to something good for me, God truly can make goodness out of anything.

My dad also read the post I quoted above. Which I wrote with him in mind. I heard him talk to my mom about it while he was reading it. I remember what he said, I may never forget it:

“I was reading (my name)’s post… I can’t imagine who (she) could know that would have hurt her so badly.”

In said post, I wrote how talking to the person who hurt you did no good… thanks Dad, for proving me right.

I really didn’t want him to read my post, and wished my mom would have stopped him, but turns out I had nothing to worry about. I think that was one of the last times he read my blog at all. I know he doesn’t now, he’d not like what I write about him, I’d be sure to hear about it.

Now, I no longer think that telling someone they hurt you does no good, if they are a mature person who truly loves you. Or even immature, but not toxic (it’s not the same thing, after all), but I was right not to tell him.

Years later, probably a year before he moved out, my dad also said in one family meeting that he got a sense that I had very low self worth, and he prayed for me about it.

I was aware enough by then to be thinking “Thanks Dad, who do you think gave me low self worth”

Wasn’t you treating my like dirt my whole life, neglecting me, abusing my emotions, telling me I was responsible for all your problems.

Now, this is not a post just for me to whine about my life.

But, we’re talking about rebirth today.

I’m starting to, like Paul, boast in my weakness. If I can take pride in nothing else, I can take pride that I have this terrible story (though it wasn’t all terrible), and I still held onto my faith.

There are man things I am still waintg for, the fullr edmeption of my past, the full meaning of why it happened t o me. A chance to tell more peopel my story. I aprpeciate ou 220 or so followers, but IW ant to reach even more peopel, more and more.

I haven’t to dlit all here, some things I did not even realzie were significant until later. soem thing sId id not feel comfortable sharing yet.

What can I say about this trial that other, wiser, better peopel have not alread siad? All I jave if my own story.

I can tell you that I’ve never heard of anyone else doing what I did, reading the books, pupmping thmselves full of self-help, roads to healing, seeking and seeking and seeking.

It was terrible to go through that dark time last year when I feared all that was for nothing, I invented years of my life in healing, and I though I ended up just as screwed up anyway.

While no amount of reading could have prepared m for the shock of getting out of abuse, it did give me something to fall back on. I took the leadership role in my family in my dad’s absence. Not fully, perhaps, but as the other dominant personality, it just happened naturally.

I felt I had to protect them, that since I hatched the plan to get rid of him, I had to make sure they were okay.

It’s been a blow to crumble as much as I did, and not be able to work steadily either, but I had to let go of the idea that everything is my responsibility.

When my dad left, I got my life back.

Really, I was getting it back every time I wrote those posts like the ones above, that I was basing off my real efforts in prayer and self reflection. My dad put all that venom into my brain, and I spat it all out through prayer, tears, songs, and resolutions.

5 years later or so, I still do that. Thouh I make less resolutions, I’ve learned to be suspisonv of those.

While I was still deeply damaged by my dad, the way I handled it back then, by God’s leading, has gotten the poison out of the wound, so it could heal, and I’ve haled faster than I thought I would.

I still have bad days, today even, doubt assaulted me again, even in Church, but I didn’t give way to it like I sued to, I do not know when I will stop being tempted, but I am a lot stronger now.

I gained back the weight I lost too. I’m walking straighter than I ever have, and I have less stiffness and back pain.

My chiropractor tells me I will be a new person when the treatment is finally completed. It’s taken 3 times as long as I wanted to see results, but God never promised it would be done when I wanted, just that it would happen.

I eat more now too. I think I eat more now than before all this happened since I’ve learned when I feel bad, I’m usulaly hungry and low on calroies, not sick.

My gaggin epidose have been over for proably 5 months or more now.

New year, new me, is what I said when 2021 started.

But when I look back at those old posts, and remember how I was then, and see that my heart was more pure than I thought, and that I was trying my best to obey God, as I always have… I think, I’m also just ht old me.

Somehow, my dad never dseprtryon who I am. Though he treid. Somehow, I kept waht I wanted in mind. I’ve never waved for long on what I want.

I want to have a great ministry.

I want to write great books

I want a great marriage

I want many children.

Whether all that comes in the form of adoption, or whatever I end up dong, and travel, or staying home, I don’t care as much as I used to, I know that all this must be part of me for a reason. I was born wanting those things. Except writing, that came once I knew I could do it, but I was always a storyteller even before that.

For ears I eceived little t ono enocuagemanet form anyone about these deams, but I didn’t lose them. That’s a mircale, from what I hear form others, pretty much everyone loses their fdreams as they grow up. To raitne then till you’e 22 is rare. Bt hte ime I’m 30, it’ll be a minoritiy.

I have a feeling I will still wan the same thing at 30 as I do now, only hopefully, I’ll have some of it by then.

I’m a girl from a toxic, abusive family, I’m not supposed to be the statistic that gets a good marriage, and becomes a good parent.

I’m the one who got told she was wrong, and criticized for everything, I’m not supposed to succeed at my talents.

I’m the one who had someone sow doubt into me a lot, I’m not supposed to have a good ministry.

Well, flip all that, God is the God of the unexpected.

Sure, right now, I have small blog, smaller YouTube Channel, and only a couple short published books on kindle that no one reads. I’m not in a lot of ministry, and I’m at a point in life where it feels no one sees all that much in me.

Perfect time to be suddenly launched into something unexpected, God has a pattern, but He’s not predictable.

I don’t know what will happen in the next 5 years, but I haven’t waited all this time for nothing, I’m sure of that.

New Life means Old things getting a new vitality, and new things springing up. Jesus coming back to life didn’t just give us His old life back, it gave us an entirely new kind of man, as C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity.

An odd hybrid between the Divine and the mortal, that is what we are. One that you won’t find anywhere else in heaven or on earth, and how can I say what the purpose of it is?

John said “It is not yet revealed what we will be, but we know that when He is revealed, we will be like Him.” (1 John 3:2)

As I’ve come out of my depression and anxiety, they’ve begun to make less and less sense to me, I no longer understand the logic behind them. I am sure, that is God.

To be sure, I’m still tempted at times, and I won’t say I have the cure all for either of those two problems, since the path I walked had to be for me personally, and my fears, but some stuff overlaps in our lives.

I can’t even be certain I’ll never have another time of my life where I feel this way, though I can’t picture it fooling me ever again. Feelings are not the same as mindsets.

I do think some changes will last.

Someday, I hope, God will give me the words to describe what happened to other people. Just now, I am still too much in the process to explain it, and I’ve noted others don’t really understand me if I try.

But someday, surely, I will be able to look back and see it clearly. Hindsight is 20-20. (That’d be a good blog post title)

I get it, some of you are still in the darkness. I hope some of you have begun to see light.

If you wait long enough for something, with God, it will happen. Or something better will.

God showed me that, actually, one time I was talking to Him, and He brought it to my attention that if I just waited long enough something was bound to change, no state of being is permanent for a human.

We hate being told it’s just a phase, but everything is a phase. The Bible calls it a “Season”

I don’t know if any angry teen or young adult will read this, but if you’ve heard those words “it’s just a phase” I know, it’s annoying, but, take it from me, you’ll want to believe that. All pain can pass. Even the worst and deepest kinds.

And while I was not assaulted with what humanity considers the worse crimes, I’d venture to say I knew that deep pain as much as the next person. I take things very seriously.

At least I could not lie to myself that way. God made me this way for a reason. If I could be blind, like others, I might still be in that situation.

One thing I kept saying to my sister was this “No pit is so deep that He is not Deeper Still” (Betsie Ten Boom).

Well, I tink that is enough for today. Thank you for reading, and have a great day

Until next time–Natasha.

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Death= Redemption.

I got the idea from this from a comment conversation I had under my last post. I have been thinking about writing it for a while, so let’s talk tropes.

Although this trope is not exclusive to anime, as I’m sure all of us have seen it in movies and shows, anime uses it a lot.

Correction: anime pretends its going to use it a lot.

All us weaboos know the annoyance of animes that pretend they’ll kill everyone all the time, and then never kill anyone…except that one person you were kind of rooting for to make it. (sniff, Pyrrha.)

Then there’s Death Note where everyone dies.. (I don’t watch it.)

Well, I don’t care if nobody dies, I just hate being lied to and faked out so many times.

Naruto is almost sadistic about killing characters, it will inform you a character died a whole two or three seasons in advance, and then bring in the character later for a side arc, or flashbacks, and show them being cute and lovable and ready to actually be happy…and then they show your them dying, alone…(I’m still salty about The Bubble Guy Utaeka, I think.)

But, sometimes villains die, and they might stay dead, and then you have the redemption arc.

Anime accomplishes the arc part usually with flashbacks, while American media tends to either show you the villains in the beginning of the film and hint at a possible redemption, or maybe drop small hints throughout the movie or show, and then they have the death be a surprise.

Anime rarely makes it a surprise, by the  time they’ve actually died you’ve been watching for like, three episodes, or seen half a dozen flashbacks dragging it out.

Anyway, before I get into the meaning of it, I wanted to point out that not every redemption death is for a villain. Sometimes it’s a good character who left the fight, screwed up royally, or never committed to actually helping until that point. They aren’t a villain, sometimes they are a chaotic neutral, if you will, but they choose to sacrifice themselves and end up a hero.

The most infamous example of this in America may be Darth Vader from Star Wars, everyone loves that redemption moment of self sacrifice.

Often in kids media, its common that the character not actually die. In The Little Mermaid, Arial’s father sacrifices himself without dying exactly, (but I always found it much more horrifying to be turned into a worm-thing than just straight-up dying.) Or they will appear to die, but end up being okay.

Anyway, the kinds of characters you’ll see get a redemption death are usually villains who were shown to have a human side, maybe a person they still loved, even more likely if the person is the hero, take Thor and Loki’s back and forth relationship in the Avenger movies; another common one is bad parents who couldn’t seem to get it up until then, but show they love their kids by dying for them (Darth Vader); also the mentors or sage characters who failed to stop the villain make a sacrifice to give the heroes more time to figure it out. That’s even in The Lego Movie.

MHA has used this trope in a slightly different way, equating losing your powers with dying, for a hero, in a way. Thereby adding a weight to their fights that actually has a longer lasting impact on the show itself, not just the characters, because it means they can no longer use that character as a fail safe.

So why is this so  common?

The simple answer is that it’s easier to use death to create sympathy for the character and often it just doesn’t seem practical for a villain to survive, they would just go to prison or die anyway, why not let it be a blaze of glory instead?

But mechanics aside, I think there’s a deeper reason this is used so often.

The thing about tropes is, people mock them, but the reason they are so common is because they reflect meanings about real life that people feel to be true. Romantic tropes mirror what happens in real life, Chosen One tropes mirror the feeling of purpose we all want to have, and fallen Hero tropes mirror the knowledge we have of our own human weakness.

The Death=Redemption Trope is no different, it mirrors a feeling human beings have that death is somehow the only thing that can make up for our sins.

The Bible says “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” For thousands of years that meant animal blood, so that people could be pardoned. After Jesus came and died, His blood was enough to cover all men throughout time.

Fiction has felt this truth, whether the authors admit it or not, and that is why villains die so often to redeem themselves. somehow death seems to be the only way to blot out the memory of their evil.

Anime is interesting here, because as I pointed out in my last post, it has many bad guys who end up living. And without fail, those bad guys feel they must atone for their sins.

See, when the death part does not happen, the good guys are faced with the much more complicated problem of still remembering what the bad guys did and having that reminder in front of them. Even if the bad guys are sorry, the good guys may have a hard time seeing past that, sometimes they do not want to. Like Katara with Zuko on Avatar.

If the villain is dead, you can’t punish them anymore anyway. Only rarely will a character obsess over not getting to kill the villain.

Plus, dying for someone is just so hardcore noble, that it can challenge the heroes to think maybe the villain was never as evil as they thought. a lot of shows choose to later reveal that the villain did some good things along the way, often that they even help the heroes by leaving clues as to how to solve future problems.

Naruto did this with Itachi Uchiha…I hated it…

Now that I’ve discussed why this is so common, the better question is, does it work?

IS it good to send this message?

The answer is yes and no.

While death=redemption can be a beautiful way to symbolically show how we need to die to our sin, and how “greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (-Jesus) there is one problem I see with it.

The whole point of fiction is to be symbolic. Sometimes when shows try to break down too much if death really equal redemption, then you have to start being more realistic.

The discussion then becomes “Should you have to kill yourself in order to be redeemed? Isn’t there a better way than that?”

Fairy Tail did this over and over again, and nearly always concluded on the side of life. But one time, at the end, they had Irene, the mother of Erza, kill herself because she did not trust herself and wanted to prevent herself from falling to the temptation to use Erza or her friends again.

When this happens it’s similar to Jesus telling us that if our right eye causes us to sin, pluck it out. If you really jsut cannot control yourself, then it’s better to lose an eye.

The bible is not saying self mutilation is a good idea. It’s saying that if we view sin that seriously, then we will put that kind of effort into getting free of it.

But we do not have to die fro our sins.

In the real world, this questions is also prevalent in our legal system. Should we just imprison people? Or should we kill them? Can’t anyone be redeemed? The real thought behind the more merciful system in America is that men can turn their lives around. But some men don’t, so we still need the Death Sentence.

Of course, Christians know that men on the verge of death for their sins have been saved, the thief on the cross is the most famous example. It happens nowadays too, in prisons and hospitals alike. But they still die.

The Bible does not seem overly concerned with whether men die in the body or not, as long as they are alive spiritually. That is, it is pro-life, but holds biological life as second in importance, if you follow God. And if you die immediately after accepting Christ, you are not the loser by any means.

Basically, with God, no one has to die for their sins, but some people still will because men cannot know for certain when there’s a change of heart, but that death is just of the body and not seen as a punishment to the christian anymore.

That said, you could say Death=Redemption really hangs on how well the villain understood why they were changing. You have to feel that, had they lived, they would have kept changing, not that they died out of some unhealthy, spur-of-the -moment, self hatred.

Dying for love is the preferred reason. And the one that reflects the most what Jesus did for us.

Though nonchristians may deny that, I don’t know anyone who hates this trope. It seems to be written into our psyches to see meaning in self-sacrifice. I know a YouTube reviewer who will give a movie a win every time there is a self-sacrifice in it.

Death is a tricky subject in fiction where death can be undone. Or prevented in ways we in the real world can only dream of.

Did they have to die? Does their death truly atone for their sins?

Death is all that can atone for sins, but yet, if they keep on living, can they live free?

Most often the answer is, they have to learn to love, to be a good person, to change.

Christianity ties these two things together by having a way to die before you die, to die to your sinful self, and to live in Christ.

As crazy as that sounds, the proof is in the pudding, more people become good because of Christianity than any other reason I know of. Throughout history, the bad kids, the rebels, the slaveholders, the cruel, the arrogant, have made 180 degree turns because of Christianity. Whole countries have changed over it. They still are.

In closing, there was one time Naruto did something with this idea that I thought was profound. When Gaara, a former murder/demon possessed person tried to learn about love, he later got kidnapped and killed in order to steal his power. He lost the demon (thank goodness)but also his life. But then a woman who had stuck him with the demon to begin with gave her life in order to resurrect him, with a little help from Naruto himself. Gaara is essentially given a new life, someone else’s life, and able to live free from then on. No longer needing to worry about losing control.

Easily one of the best examples I’ve seen, up there with Frozen.

Until next time–Natasha.