Lately, I’ve been trying to pray more. It’s hard to start, and when I do, it’s shaky and unconfident.
Especially in some of my lowest points, I’ve been trying to come to God with my problems. But admittedly, most of the time it feels fruitless. Like I’d have a better time just trying to figure out my own issues in my head. And it isn’t until I’m depressed for days, until I exhaust my emotions, do I start to recover and see the light again.
And in those moments of newfound clarity, I never quite understand how I was supposed to rely on God’s strength in that situation. Did I pray wrong? Did I not reflect hard enough? Is there something twisted in my heart that I won’t recognize?
Strangely enough, I think I found my answer watching anime.
I first discovered Naruto, one of my favorite anime shows, in middle school. Ninjas, power jutsu moves, ramen – it had everything. And I remember being entranced by the concept of chakra – that in my body, I could awaken and manipulate this living force inside of myself for strength.
When everything looks bleak, when there’s nowhere else to turn, the idea that we all have something we can tap into to give us the strength to keep going – that really resonated with me.
And perhaps that mentality permeated into adulthood. Because when I’m in those tough situations, I call on God as if he’s some glorified bellhop, just waiting for me to beckon for his services. And all I need to do is ask and he will provide everything I need.
But I think that “relying on God’s strength” is more than that. It’s not a sudden burst of energy. It’s not God reawakening dormant power inside of me – no, it’s supposed to be a prolonged sustenance. A way of life. We rely on God’s strength every day, through the most mundane of circumstances. We consult him for guidance for everything, and learn and grow while doing it.
The reason why I don’t even know where to begin with my prayers is because I never do it. I have no practice. I have a weak relationship with God. So how can I even begin to ask God for help when I never talk with him? How can I expect to hear his answer if I can’t recognize his voice?
If I fall out of touch with any of my friends in this life, often there are doubts of whether or not we truly care for one another. The relationship has a risk of falling out. But the beautiful thing about our relationship with God is his incredible patience. That he is always waiting for us to build it and nurture it. But it takes work. We mustn’t forget that this is a relationship. And relationships take time, commitment, communication, effort, and love.
Ironically enough, in Naruto, the main character has a dormant nine tailed fox spirit inside of him that infuses him with extraordinary power in dire circumstances. But he has no control over it. And it isn’t until he faces that spirit inside of him and builds a relationship with it, is he able to truly utilize that strength and reach his fullest potential.
I need to watch more anime.