Have you ever filled out one of those memes on Twitter or Tumblr where you talk about your anime favorites? The questions are like, “What’s your OTP?” and “Anime or manga?” Sometimes it’s difficult to give just one answer to those questions, but there’s one that I have no problem with. It’s the question that asks which anime character I’m most similar to. That one’s easy for me: it’s Tomoya Okazaki, the protagonist of Clannad.
He and I don’t share any superficial similarities, but we do share a similar frame of mind, one in which we work hard for others at our own expense, hiding deep needs and longings inside until they blow up. Our self-destructive behavior is also similar, as we’re liable to transform from selfless to hateful at the drop of a hat. Most challenging of all is that we both have alcoholism in our families. That disease had a profound impact on Tomoya, diverting the course of his life and eventually taking control of him as well (at least to some extent). For me, over the years it was something I ran from and made all sorts of commitments regarding.
Most interestingly, my feelings toward alcohol mirrored the developed of my faith. In high school and into college, I swore that I would never drink. Although seeing what a toll alcoholism took on my family was what fed this idea, in my mind I had made the decision as a promise to God. I saw myself as a modern-day Nazirite, which probably fed my already-considerable ego. I didn’t say as much, but I felt I was better than my friends who drank – just one of many judgments I would make daily concerningpeople around me, not realizing that inside I was rotten to the core.
It’s no surprise then that at some point, I broke my vow. During college I started to drink, frequenting parties and and living a typical college lifestyle, even though it didn’t fit me at all. I was a wallflower at parties and, frankly, didn’t even like the taste of alcohol. By this point in my life, though, I didn’t feel guilty for abandoning a deeply-held belief for something I didn’t even like, probably because I was so disconnected with the reason behind my promise. I hadn’t attended church in years by this point and I considered myself an agnostic as I experimented some with eastern religions, though mostly I was just a hedonist who didn’t care much about spirituality.
Shortly thereafter, I started going to church again, one that really spoke to me (which I still attend) and led me to really consider my sin and God’s love for me despite the way I treated him, used people, and lived for empty things. I became zealous, and so again stopped drinking though I hesitated now to say it was for God. I feared failing again (or just changing my mind) and I didn’t want to disappoint God. Of course, in taking something like this and putting it on myself, I actually made it about me rather than God. It’s interesting how we often do that when we become over-zealous, immature Christians who think they’re mature, but are still babes in Christ. And so while I abstained, I felt this discomfort within me – what did avoiding alcohol really mean?
I finally found out what it meant. As I’ve gotten to know God more intimately and to really seen his heart for me, the heart that would go to such lengths to rescue me, I’ve been more and more able to let go of the structure and pride and everything else that went into avoiding alcohol, and to just do it for one reason: to help my family. I have so many weaknesses already, and I don’t want to add the most severe disorder I could to those and destroy my loved ones. I also want to be the point at which the chains are broken, where the generational curse is lifted, where alcohol has lost its power over my family.
Tomoya, after going to a dark place, is that point for his clan, and I hope to be the same for mine. And in my weakness, I might fail, but I’ve got God. He strengthens me by showing me his love when I feel down. I know I can turn to him for strength and for forgiveness when I just can’t do it on my own. And he doesn’t need my silly vows and I don’t need to worry about how he’ll react; all I need to do is rest in him, for better or worse, and let him do what he’s always done, which is to care for me and guide me through my demons and burdens. And that’s more than enough.