Blue Spring Ride, Episode 11: Guilt and Despair

My mom moved around from church to church quite often as I was growing up.  I of course, hated that, because as soon as I would establish myself among a group of friends, it seemed, I would be uprooted.  Once, when I was in fourth grade, my church friends and I were working hard for the Christmas pageant we would act in just a few days later.  My Sunday School teacher sternly reminded us, “Makes sure you show up for the pageant!”

It was that day that my mom told me we were leaving that church.  I tried to explain my case, but to no avail.  I was very distraught.  Even today, occasionally, I wonder if they missed me and how it all went (probably fine, as missing Shepherd #2 usually doesn’t effect a Christmas play too much).

That event was something I could nothing about; yet, I felt guilty about it for a long time.  Most of us probably have similar stories – some much more painful than mine.  In episode 11 of Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride), Kou reveals one such story.  As his mother holes up in the hospital with cancer, he receives a call from his brother.  But instead of finding solace with family, Kou can only feel guilt and despair, recalling his brother’s final words before leaving some time earlier – to take care of their mother.  And although Kou has no godly ability to shoo away cancer, nor should he for any rational reason feel guilty, he still does.  He can’t help it.

ao haru ride kou
Guilt is strong. But grace is all the stronger…

For Christians, guilt is a feeling that seems to be part and parcel of the religion.  I think that many outside of Christianity might say as much, seeing guilt as factor in forcing people to make changes in their morality.  And within, many of us may feel guilty falling to a specific sin or to many.

But one of the awesome aspects of Christianity is this – in Christ, we are no longer condemned.  We no longer need to feel guilty.  In fact, we shouldn’t feel guilt.  Guilt isn’t and shouldn’t be a motivating factor for us to become more Christlike, because understanding what grace means is understanding this – when God sees us, He doesn’t see our sin.  Instead, He sees his perfect son, whose sacrifice covered our sins.  He sees an adopted son or daughter, a co-heir with Christ.

The freedom of Christ is a freedom from the grip of sin.  His death and resurrection cover us and make us clean.  And because we did not deserve it, for this very reason, we need not feel guilty, because we are not earning salvation; we are not paying Christ back or atoning for sin.  We are covered because of Christ’s perfect and gracious love, and that love empowers us to “try, try again” as we seek to become transformed into the image of Christ, pushed forward not by guilt, but by grace.

If we’re living in guilt, we’re living in legalism – we are not living the Christian life.  And if that’s the case for you, I hope you’ll remember the power of God’s grace from the time you became born again.  Or if you don’t remember that kind of experience, I hope you’ll seek it out, because it’s life-changing, powerful, and immense.  In fact, for our purposes, perhaps it’s Kou that puts this kind of grace experience, given to him by an unrelenting Futaba, best:

Maybe all this time, I’ve been waiting for something like this.  Something like a storm.

It is a storm, a violent one that washes away the old and brings in the new, with a promise of love, and only love – and in it, there’s no more room for guilt.

5 thoughts on “Blue Spring Ride, Episode 11: Guilt and Despair

  1. Ah, you are right on this count: we are not condemned because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and the application of His merits to us; however, there is plenty of reason to feel guilty on account of one’s sins. As is revealed in the history of the saints, the closer one comes to God the more easily one feels the pricks of conscience. And in daily life, one finds that many people who lack a sense of guilt are often the least able to recognize their own faults and quick to pick up on the faults of others. Not a very Christian attitude!

    While the view that salvation has been earned for us and could never be earned by us is completely correct, I have ever been suspicious of the view that God the Father sees His Son rather than us at the Judgment. Jesus Christ, through the union of divine and human natures in His person, contains within Himself all the perfections of mankind. And so, whatever is good in us is a reflection of Christ, in the fullness of whose stature we must grow. However, God the Father will recognize those parts of us not in conformity with His Son. He sees us as we are, and Christ demands that we “be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” To complete the work of redemption, our vices and sins cannot only be covered over, but completely erased until we ourselves attain a purity and innocence without a spot.

    That this purity and innocence cannot be attained through our good works continually draws us back to God for the forgiveness of sins, especially to the Passion of Christ who merited this forgiveness for us. It is impossible to realize that one is responsible for the Death of Christ and not feel guilty! But, this kind of guilt–approaching Christ and confessing our sins–brings healing to the soul rather than the worldly kind of guilt (which is perhaps what you meant to speak against rather than all kinds of guilt) symbolized by Judas Iscariot, which brings moroseness and discontent. Some people look at Catholics as being too gloomy because of Catholic spirituality’s focus on the Passion of Christ, but curiously and paradoxically the focus on the Passion brings both guilt and joy: guilt for our sins and joy for Our Savior’s love. Through the Passion, the people who are the most sorrowful for their sins can simultaneously become the most joyful people.

  2. Thank for your comments, Joe. They are truly wise, as always, and I lean on you for your theological knowledge and your experience!

    While we disagree a bit, you certainly point out to me that what I meant (if not what I wrote) is that we should be free of the kind of paralyzing, absorbing, and overriding guilt that tells us “we’re not good enough.” While that statement in itself is probably true, the wonder of grace, as we know, is that even despite this, we’re loved by the Almighty Creator, and that imbues within us something marvelous.

    A little guilt that leads to repentance – that, I would agree, is good and necessary.

  3. I don’t know how different the anime is from the manga, but I think it would be very interesting to know how you view the story besides the religious aspect of it. This is where I start my intense disapproval of Kou

    1. I’m kind of indifferent to the story at this point, to be honest. For all anime/manga, I’m very character-focused – the characters are everything to me. And regardless of whether Kou is admirable or not, or the same of Futuba, I just haven’t connected with these characters on the intimate level I have with some of my favorite shoujo, like Kimi ni Todoke. Thus, I don’t have a particular interest of looking further into the manga.

      I do think some of our writers here have liked the series better than I have, including JP, who might have even less experience with shoujo than me.

      And on another note, if you’d like to read real analysis about the anime from someone who I think has also read the manga, and not through the Christian lens as we do with almost all of our posts here, I would suggest you head over to Heart of Manga. Laura is a wonderful writer and she’s been blogging the series, episode by episode (something I don’t think she’s ever done, as her blog is manga-based).

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