I relate to Shinji Ikari more than I’d like to admit.
A friend of mine is diving into Neon Genesis Evangelion for the first time, and I’m sure she’s discovering what I saw in my first viewing, that Shinji Ikari has great highs and great lows, and not necessarily with the latter first and earlier last. His experience does not lead to linear growth in character building.
Such is me.
A few months ago, I shared how I’d grown a lot spiritually during my time in the hospital. And for days and weeks afterward, I was a new person. Unfortunately, that lifestyle hasn’t lasted. Like a high school kid at a church retreat, I’d lost my momentum and returned to my normal self – my often grumpy, generally impatient, and usually hypocritical self.
Like Shinji, who receives praise after annihilating an angel, even after reaching a high, I still find a way to sink low. This, even knowing that becoming a better person is within reach.
I guess that’s human nature.
I admire the people who pull themselves up by their bootstraps and become great people or do great things. They can look to the future and forget the past. They move forward and grow, no matter the circumstance. We as a society adore such people, because they show us the best we can be.
Sometimes, though, I think that they (and we) are hiding behind a facade. Knowingly or not, we’re putting up a false pretense. It looks as if we’ve hit a pinnacle in growth, when inside, our supporting structures for this tower of strength may not be so strong. We can (and do) fall back, even if others don’t see it. It’s kind of like, well, all the girls from Kanon, who put forward an enchanting, strong face, when they all have flaws and pains that tear away at them. Or, if we’re lying to ourselves, it could be like the brothers from Frasier, who play the role of psychologists while they need quite a bit of psychoanalyzing themselves.
For me, if I want to recapture that truth I found in the hospital and grow from that point, I must find an anchor – otherwise, I’ll remain adrift at sea forever, growing and regressing as the tides change. I can’t rely on my own strength. I can’t rely on momentum or emotion. I can’t rely on others. All these things are temporary and changing.
In my attempt to reverse course once again, I focus on response. I attempt to put the “cross before and the world behind,” remembering what the gospel means as often as I can. The message is never changing. And when I meditate on it, I find my response remains the same as well, and in that, God will do wonders, even through someone unworthy as I.