If you frequent my blog, you might have noticed that I mostly talk anime and generally ignore manga. My tendencies are something like 95/5 when it comes to anime and manga. But I’ll say this – when I read manga that grips me, I become addicted – and series like Claymore, Genshiken, and Fullmetal Alchemist drew me in like few anime have – even the ones based on those manga.
Based on an answer by Keiko in a recent interview here, I decided to check out Koko Ni Iru Yo! (I Am Here!) and for me, it became one of those series. I couldn’t stop reading.
If you don’t know the story, it follows Hikage, a “plain” girl who is ignored by seemingly everyone at school. She finds solace in her personal blog (cute point!), through which she’s developed friendships with two young men who comment on it. Things begin to change when one of the most popular boys in her school lets Hikage know that he does, indeed, notice her.
The material in the series is rich for application (and I may revisit it in the future). So I found it strange when I began to key in on one relatively small point in the series. As the story progresses, we find out about the long friendship between the two popular boys, Hinata and Teru. We also see the friendship between the two begin to break apart. But in the end, the friendship survives, despite difficulties that would try any relationship.
I’ll say it now – I think God spoke to me through this manga. I’ll tell you why – the day after I finished it (actually the day of – I stayed up until 3am reading the story) was Sunday. I went to church focused on trying to greet and welcome new people visiting, something that takes energy for me (I’m not naturally a people person). But to my surprise, I saw someone visiting I’d known for years – someone who had recently hurt me pretty deeply.
Without going into detail, I’ll say this – this particular guy is an All-Star type – a popular, genuinely nice guy that all the boys want to be friends with and all the girls want to date. He and I served together and were friends – to the point that he came to my house for holiday dinners. He wed his fiancee a few weeks ago and…I wasn’t invited. For all the reasons that could be, I think it came down to this – I just didn’t mean a whole lot to him.
At first, I was very angry. And also very hurt. I came to conclusion that, despite my claims of Christian faith, I would not forgive him. Neither would I talk to him if I saw him again (which might never have happened – he lives in a different city now).
But lo and behold, here he was at church. And throughout the service, I kept thinking about two things – the need to forgive and a certain little manga.
Teru and Hinata, in the manga, quickly and easily put aside the boiling differences that threatened their relationships. They quickly forgave and let bygones be bygones. Just. Like. That.
It wasn’t so easy for me. Even as I went to greet my old friend and meet his bride, I literally gritted my teeth at times. But I was also happy to speak with him and even happier that I was able to “love my neighbor,” even if he was also my enemy.
The message hit even further home as I remembered a little interview I’d listened to on the way to church about the Good Samaritan. Jesus’ story about the Samaritan helping the fallen stranger was in response to another’s question – “who is my neighbor?” It isn’t merely someone who lives next to you – it’s one in need who you come across. And while my friend wasn’t in need, he was my neighbor and once a good friend, so how much more should I show forgiveness to him?
The hurt is still there, just a bit. But today, I can say I’ve forgiven my friend. I’ll love him like I have in the past. After all, I live with this in mind – how much more am I loved by those I’ve hurt, particularly by One who gave it all?
Is there anyone in your life you have a hard time forgiving? Why? Is there a story of one who have forgiven who, like in my case, hurt you?