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?
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.