Kokoro Connect, Episode 04: Just As I Am

In episode four of Kokoro Connect, Inaba, the serious, controlling member of the group, has an epiphany of sorts. She realizes that she can be herself among the friends, even if that self is ungracious and mistrustful. I guess it’s supposed to be a feel good moment, but the message left me irked. It’s all warm and fuzzy and nice that her friends accept her, but how can they do that and not push her to be a better person – to be more than she is? To overcome her mistrust and learn to love more?

If we love someone, shouldn’t we love them for who they are, but still encourage them to grow?

Kokoro Connect Inaba
Art by いいんちょ

I was reminded, though, of a favorite hymn as a child – one we frequently closed service with and one Billy Graham always used for invitations in his “crusades”:

Just as I am, without one plea
But that thy blood was shed for me
And that thou bidst me come to thee
Oh Lamb of God, I come, I come

It’s a beautiful image that we come to God just as we are. And for sure, like Inaba’s friend, we are loved for who we are, flaws and all. But the truth of the matter is this – when we come to God, we aren’t quite the same person we were before our conversion; and certainly after accepting Christ, we are different as well. It’s the same with Inaba – even as she tells her friends of her flaws, she’s already different, and in one way especially.

Inaba has become humble.

It’s difficult to humble ourselves, in almost any situation. And it takes this humily- this putting aside of our pride and especially in Inaba’s case, fears, to transform. She lets go of the fears she held so closely and in essence, bows herself before her friends, letting them make the decision about whether to accept her or not. She no longer holds their belief about her in her own hands, shaped by how she presents herself (a similar thing could actually be said about Nagase, interestingly enough).

And because of her humility, Inaba is set free. She can change. And as with Christ, whose grace frees us from sin and changes our hearts, Inaba’s confession and the gracious love of her friends frees her to become someone more. And even if she doesn’t think she can, I think what we’ll see is an Inaba who trusts and loves more. She is loved just as she is, but Inaba is going to become someone more than she thinks she can be.


8 thoughts on “Kokoro Connect, Episode 04: Just As I Am

  1. Hey long time reader, first time commenter. I love the parallel drawn here where the act of confession in itself garners a change. There doesn’t need to be any stark changes after that moment but it will come because you have taken the first step.

    1. Thanks for commenting (and for faithfully reading)! You’re right – without that first step, even lengthy change can’t begin to occur.

  2. I’m a strong believer (and envious) of the “First Step Makes a Difference” philosophy as well. I guess that’s why I enjoyed this series so much. Reminds me so much about growing up.

    1. You hit on a great point – so far, this series really has been about growing up. I didn’t talk about Nagase, but from my perspective, the problems she’s dealing with in regards to identity aren’t so abnormal – that’s part of growing up. Who of us really knew who we were at that age? But it is around that time where we start taking those steps that help to define us.

      Thanks for your comment!

  3. I think the crucial point I’d like to look at that you’ve pointed out is that Inaba’s confession and growth is much more suited to represent humanist philosophy rather than Christian. Many people see atheism and its intellectually similar partner humanism as devoid of salvation. But that’s not true.

    Inaba doesn’t seek reconciliation from a divine source. She turns to her friends–fellow humans–to make peace with herself. To me, this is a terrific example of how we don’t need god.

    1. Throwing out the lack of push from her friends to help her overcome what’s obviously a flaw, the group offers Inaba something incredible: grace. Even though she’s “sinned” against them, they love her unconditionally. It’s an amazing thing.

      What God offers, though, is grace for anything and everything. Inaba has peace now – but what happens when her friends fail her? When they grow up and move away? When she hurts others? If and when she reaches a point in her life when she becomes self-destructive? What if at that point, she has no friends and family to rely on, or they fail her?

      I’m not introducing God as a better solution or a catch-all. But I see the situation in the series as showing the power that grace can have; it’s a model of God, one whose grace covers all our iniquities, from beginning to end.

Leave a Reply