At lunch today, I was talking to a friend, someone who’s a mentor to me, and he mentioned the idea that it’s been shown that we make bad decisions under duress, due to things like stress, bad health, tiredness, and hunger. I agreed, and in fact, I explained that I’d shown the worst side of me to my family after a stressful day yesterday.
In episode ten of Tsuki ga Kirei, Kotaro likewise makes some bad decisions that he likely wouldn’t have if he’d been 100%. During the town festival, which should have been a joyous time for Kotaro and Akane (you can feel the immense disappointment from the latter when she departs the festival in tears), becomes the scene of their biggest fight to date. Kotaro gets some time off from his performance and goes to find Akane; when he spots her, he sees her all alone with Hira, who is confessing to her. Kotaro does not take it well; let’s just say he puts on a passive-aggressive performance that rivals his festival dance.
Later on, after the festival, Kotaro lets out his frustrations at home, and we’re privy to seeing flashbacks of what might be running through his head. Although he’s unhappy and jealous regarding Hira, we see that his anger isn’t just because of that, or mostly even. The conversation with Hira is the straw that broke the camel’s back, with most of the weight having to do with Akane’s impending move and Kotaro’s worries about how he can meet that challenge. During the festival, he was also hampered by tiredness, hunger, and thirst, as well as worries about his own future.
It’s fine to make those kinds of mistakes when you’re fifteen. They’re almost expected. But what of me? I have to admit that I do silly (and sometimes harmful) things when I’m stressed out, acting like an adolescent all over again. And while I know the answers for me are the same as they always are – alleviate the stress, eat and sleep well, practice spiritual habits – there are times when I’m too tired, too busy, too defeated to do those things. What then? Am I just out of luck?
At the end of the episode, we get a glimpse of what might be an answer. Akane runs to Kotaro and opens the door to conversation, even though she’s the party who is less at fault. She demonstrates grace. And Kotaro returns the gesture with love and a bold declaration (a reminder, by the way, of what a terrific protagonist he is, and what a great romance this is).
Back to me. The other night, when I succumbed to stress and acted like a juvenile, I felt terrible afterward. I was inconsolable, or so I thought. But in that painful moment, I received encouraging messages from a young man I know, with whom I’ve been doing a bible study. Although he isn’t nearly in the same stage of life as me, and probably doesn’t really understand what I’m going through, his kindness was enough to break me from my funk.
When we’re not able to help ourselves, when we’ve gone to a place that we shouldn’t and feel trapped and unable to get out, there is hope in the form of relationship, in community. It may be your boyfriend, your mom or dad, your best friend, your kohai, your mentor, your teacher, your church member. When someone pours grace out onto you, it helps wash away the hurt and pain and struggle, like a violent but refreshing rain. That is the way of grace. It’s why I seek it in my life, why I need it to keep going – and it’s also why I need to be it, because I’ve been there and understand how empty it feels to be without and how as the deliverer of grace, it can mean everything in that moment to one who doesn’t deserve it at all.