Tomoya Okazaki is the Reason I Don’t Drink

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.

tomoya okazaki depressed
If what happened to Tomoya happened to me, I’m sure I would fall the same way

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?

tomoya okazaki alcohol

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.

7 thoughts on “Tomoya Okazaki is the Reason I Don’t Drink”

  1. What an interesting parallel! In fact, my path towars alcohol was somewhat opposite to yours. I grew up in a household very like Riko and Sentaro´s in Sakamichi no Apollon, a big, noisy, Catholic family in a mostly non-Christian environment. One of my parents didn´t drink due to medical reasons, so we didn´t had alcohol there. Althought they never forbid me to, neither I did outside home as a teen: I felt I was too young, I didn´t want addictions, the idea of losing control over my actions was a factor too, to some degree. At that point, I assumed I would drink when I was older. But my first year at University took place in an environment of great social pressure that I resisted in all the ways I could, maintaining most of my habits, including this one.

    Little by little, I found Christian friends (who drank and still drink alcohol, by the way) and learned to open up maintaining my faith: it was a time of discoveries about my spiritual life, and by then Christian hope and the figure of St John the Baptist became increasingly important to me. One day I learned he didn´t drink alcohol (for he was a nazirite), which in his case was a sign of hope for Redemption and the Messiah. That amazed me to the degree that I decided to make a similar vow. And I did. Hope still resonates in me most deeply, and it´s the reason for Now and then, here and there being my favorite show: is good to have reminders and signs.

    So I approve alcohol, but I don´t drink. When questioned, I explain I truly hope to do someday, when saved and resurrected. Let´s toast there one day.

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  2. I really enjoyed this post, though I’m something of a convenient combination of circumstances in terms of deciding whether to not drink: I’m really underweight because of my medical history, and I think I also have a wine allergy (I’m asthmatic, and one of the few times I really tried to drink a small amount of wine because I don’t care for the taste as is, my throat felt like it was swelling shut–I don’t know if that was psychological or an actual reaction). Alcohol also makes me nervous from continually reading articles about its horrific effects when abused or used improperly–sexual assaults, DUIs, violence. I will not by any means say that alcohol consumption is always a sin, because determining that is the Lord’s business alone. But I think it’s something I would rather categorically stay away from so as not to cast any doubt on the validity of my witness for God.

    Even though I don’t personally know or recall any immediate relatives who drank themselves into ruin, I’ve heard of too many tragic instances of this occurring, and the thought of ever being responsible for anything remotely close to that terrifies me, so I don’t take what I consider to be the first step, even if that first step in itself isn’t a problem. Some people have strong moral and physical restraints, and I wish them happiness. But I also have negative memories from the time I was young, when certain relatives were very, very negative about the acceptability of drink within a Christian household. Now they have alcohol in the back of their fridge. Times change, and sometimes, so do people, but it’s just so awkward to see because old memories die hard, and partially because the two sides of my family were often very, very split on this subject, which was hard and unpleasant to deal with. One of my relatives can down two beers and then drive home in the rain, texting on his phone, and not have “overtly” have a problem–I know this because I had to be in the backseat of his car a few years ago, praying en route back to the house–but that’s not me, nor is it reassuring. I was also having strange thoughts while watching and reviewing the infamous “God’s Not Dead” — https://projectedrealities.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/movie-review-gods-not-dead-marked-minor-spoiler/ — since I thought that movie, relative to the Christian genre, had a remarkable amount of alcohol consumption, and I wondered if it ironically would be a struggle to watch for sensitive viewers who might have fought that battle, whether themselves or through dealing with a loved one. As I wrote in my review, “I would hate for any movie, much less a Christian film, to trigger withdrawals or relapses in viewers who might be struggling with overcoming addiction.

    I’ve long had a similar belief about tattoos–I don’t think they’re objectively and undeniably sinful for Christians in every circumstance, but as I’ve half-thought about someday being available for ministry to the Japanese people or to prisoners, I wouldn’t want anything on my body that could cause problems or get in the way of my proclaiming the good news of God our Father, Jesus Christ our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit our Comforter. In addition, I don’t like dealing with the arguments and rifts within Christendom, whether dealing with ink or with drink. Let us be one in heart and mind.

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    1. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate your insight and can understand where you’re coming from in light of your personal experiences, especially in relation to family – the marks they leave upon us are so permanent, even as we might change. And that was a timely reminder to me that even as I grow, I need to be aware of the here and now – a motivation to be kinder, love harder, and do better.

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