Annalyn’s Corner: Suna’s Love Story (and Mine)

Hi there, folks! Time for some apologies. First, I’m sorry I missed last week’s post. I was really sick, and writing was out of the question. Second, I’m sorry...
Suna returns to homework after helping Takeo and Yamato to get over their insecurities and confess to each other (ep 3).

Hi there, folks! Time for some apologies. First, I’m sorry I missed last week’s post. I was really sick, and writing was out of the question. Second, I’m sorry this is several hours late. I could blame internet problems, but I honestly couldn’t have finished this before work even if my internet was working this morning. I’m afraid I got out of my blogging routine with everything that’s been going on. It’s actually harder to blog in the summer than during the school year—didn’t expect that to be the case, but it is. Thank you for your patience with me. Anyway, without further ado… here’s a post about something I’ve been mulling over a lot in the past couple months: singleness and supporting each other.

Ore Monogatari!! aka My Love Story!! might be the most surprising anime on my watching list. The fact I’m completely caught up with it is even more surprising. Sweet romance shows don’t usually keep my attention. But this one hasn’t lost me yet. It toes the line with cliches, then skips happily away. Best of all, there’s no ridiculous drama and misunderstandings, because Suna is always there to straighten the protagonists out.

At first glance, the title My Love Story!! seems to refer to Takeo’s relationship with Yamato. But I want to look at a different type of love story, a non-romantic type… because I don’t think that kind of love story gets as much attention as it should, especially in Christian circles. And, more selfishly, because my life resembles a platonic love story more than anything else right now. So, as sweet as the main couple is, let’s talk about Suna.

Suna returns to homework after helping Takeo and Yamato to get over their insecurities and confess to each other (ep 3).

Suna returns to homework after helping Takeo and Yamato to get over their insecurities and confess to each other (ep 3).

Sunakawa Makoto is the protagonist’s best friend. He keeps Takeo and Yamato from hurting each other or annoying me. Unlike many romance anime sidekicks, he’s sensible, introverted, and content being single. I can relate to him a lot… and we can all take a cue from the way he supports the main couple (and the way they support him). 

Like Suna, I’m always happy to listen to my friends’ problems and offer advice if needed. But sometimes, I wonder if my singleness will keep people from listening to me, especially about relationships. My mom says they won’t—plenty of counselors are single, and they can still offer good relationship counseling. Still, it’s reassuring to see Suna helping Takeo and Yamato out. Any example, even a fictional one, is welcome. Because I want to help. I don’t have a significant other, and I don’t plan to have a family anytime in the near future, if ever. So I’m learning to support those around me… surprisingly, that’s not a topic I hear talked about a lot in church, unless it involves spouses supporting each other and their children. I see it acted out, at least, in meal trains and such, but not talked about.

This is important to me, because I don’t relate to Suna only because he’s introverted and people go to him for advice. Like him, I’m very much single. When I say “very much single,” I don’t just mean that I haven’t been on a single date, except with a guy my grandmother set me up with. I mean “single and content.” I’ve used the past couple months of summer break, away from the distracting array of Christian bachelors at my college, to compare my romantic dreams with reality. And the reality is… relationships sound exhausting.

There are other factors involved. But here’s the conclusion: singleness is best for me right now. It’s best for me as a writer, a student, and as a young woman about to embark on her post-undergraduate life. I’m not closing the door on all of this forever. Things can change, and they can change quickly when God’s involved. But for now, I’m in a very different place than I once expected to be.

It was freeing, once I realized that I need to be Single and Not Looking for the time being (not closed, but not looking either). But it’s required a big shift in thinking. I didn’t realize how much thought and energy went into being Single and Sort of Looking—thinking about showing up at co-ed events, thinking about whether I appear like the family type in front of men and matchmaking mothers. And I wasn’t even as consumed by it as many girls! When I approach possible long term singleness, though, there are other things to consider: how will I foster healthy friendship with the men and women in my life? How can I support other singles… and couples? And how can I get the support I need?

You can, perhaps, see why I’m so interested in Suna’s relationship with the main characters.

Maybe it’s a Christian thing, but it seems like everyone—pastors, professors, authors, relatives—assume there are two possible states for young people: Married (or on the way—engaged, etc.) or Looking (actively looking, nursing a broken heart, planning/hoping for a ring within five years). Talks about purity or relationships have two applications: the relationship you’re in, or the romantic relationship you’ll be in within a few years. There are exceptions to this, of course, but they usually feel tacked-on, like “P.S. It’s okay to be single Paul said so.”

I recently heard a sermon about women where the preacher forgot that some women aren’t wives and won’t be anytime in the next decade. He’s not a sexist—just forgetful of single young women, divorcees, widows, and conservative homosexuals who believe singleness is their only option. The sermon about men didn’t go much beyond family life, either.

Is it any wonder that, until recently, I didn’t even consider remaining single through my twenties, let alone my whole life? Or that singleness was my Plan B, and only that?

When I read the Bible, I don’t see singleness described as a waiting period. Just the opposite, actually. It’s described as an ideal state for active service to God and others. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul recommends that those who can avoid sexual temptation and remain single do so. Paul himself remained single his entire life:

Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am… And the woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, and how she may please her husband. And I say this for your own benefit, not to put a restraint on you, but to promote what is seemly, and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord. (1 Cor 7:7a, 34-35)

That’s not to say that you can’t serve God well as a married woman or man, or rather, as a couple (or as a growing family). But it’s different. Personally, I doubt I’d have much energy left to serve anyone besides my immediate family if I was married—my social energy is pretty low.

There might eventually be romance in my life, but for now, my love story isn’t about eros. I’m more of a Suna than a Takeo. So I’m learning—and I want to remind all singles out there—that God calls us to love those around us, and without a significant other, we’re freer to help a broader range of people. I’m actually getting excited about it. Sure, part of me still likes the idea of a husband, a life partner to love and support, and who will love and support me. But there are so many others I can help, and I feel free to do so without worrying about someone attached to me.

Right now, I can support my sister and her husband by babysitting while they go on a date. I can also support them by watching what I say, voicing supportive things rather than pointing out Bro-in-Law’s flaws in private conversations with Sis (I admit, I can do better in this area).

I can support my single friends by listening, and by just enjoying our time together—often exchanging encouragements and advice.

We singles need support, too. And matchmaking isn’t always the right support.

Takeo and Yamato brainstorm the ideal match for Suna, who is drained just imagining it. Their support in the hospital earlier that same day was plenty. He doesn't them to dream up a girlfriend for him, thank you very much. (ep 9)

Takeo and Yamato brainstorm the ideal match for Suna, who is drained just imagining it. Their support in the hospital earlier that same day was plenty. He doesn’t need them to dream up a girlfriend for him, thank you very much. (ep 9)

Just like we should be encouraging our dating friends—and even more so our married friends—we need support in our singleness, including from our non-single friends and family. We don’t have an individual person who’s dedicated to loving and supporting us. We need intimate conversations (for me, that’s usually with Mom, but to some extent with other female friends and family). We need to be affirmed in our singleness, whether we chose to be single or not. We need affirmation in our identity as people and as Christians. And we need someone to notice and reach out when we need help.

That’s another thing I love about Ore Monogatari. Takeo doesn’t forget about Suna in his relationship with Yamato… and Yamato makes sure to encourage Takeo’s friendship with Suna. To them, Suna isn’t a third wheel, and they do everything they can to make sure he doesn’t feel that way. Together, they make sure his birthday is special. (I didn’t get a screenshot of that, but it was in a recent episode, and it was precious.) And earlier in the series, we saw that Takeo doesn’t shrug off any sense that Suna’s struggling. When Suna finally shares the problem with him, he and Yamato make sure Suna doesn’t face his father’s medial emergency by himself.

Basically, I appreciate the balance in this show. I think the way the characters look out for each other is something to learn from. I know that’s not a big, striking statement. It seems weak compared to my last couple post topics. But I can identify with Suna, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and praying about what singleness looks like. I figure we have fair chunk of single readers, and I hope you can glean something from all this, even if it’s just some sense of camaraderie and encouragement.

Annalyn, known as Alexis to the outside world, is a lifelong lover of fiction. Growing up, books kept her attention, but anime stole center stage halfway through high school. If she isn’t consuming, writing, analyzing, or thinking about some form of story… she’s probably distracted. But she might be running, editing, or hanging out with family.
11 Comments on this post.

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  • Crazy Packers Fan
    20 July 2015 at 9:36 pm

    It’s people like you who kill me, Annalyn. 😉

    Seriously speaking, I think this is definitely something that comes down to male vs. female. I’ve met a lot of guys who, like myself, wish so badly to get a girl’s attention. And I’ve met a lot of girls who feel perfectly happy being single. This postmodern world we live in can deny the difference between genders all they want, but reality says otherwise. Boys chase girls chase girls.

    Leave a Reply
    • Annalyn
      20 July 2015 at 11:36 pm

      Thanks for commenting, Tommy. It’s good to hear from your experience, because I’m still trying to get a handle on how this stuff plays out.

      To clarify about my “perfectly happy” singleness: Yes, I am content being single, but that doesn’t mean it will always be easy for me, especially if I remain single for a long time. I still desire romance—it’s a normal human desire, a desire I don’t believe Jesus tends to fill or even take away, though he answers my prayers for contentment despite the desire. The related desires aren’t completely absent either. And as a girl, I like being pursued (to a point—I’ve only sensed pursuit a couple times, so it’s still fairly novel, and once I realize I’m definitely not interested, I get worried about the perceived pursuer’s sweet heart). But I’ve also started being realistic about my gifts and needs. My old expectations for my life—marry young, like my parents did, and have two kids by the time I’m thirty—don’t fit who I am at all. Like most fantasies, they held me back from being all I can be. Half-expecting to get married by age 25 meant I only half-planned to provide for myself as a single woman. When I start to see singleness as an opportunity, instead of as a consolation prize, it’s incredibly freeing—a little scary, because it means my only life partner, live-in friend, and live-in leader is my Lord (specifically the Spirit), but still freeing and exciting. I’d love to be married, but I’m not an easy match. And now, I’d also love to be single.

      Leave a Reply
  • Matthew Newman (@MDMRN)
    21 July 2015 at 12:05 pm

    Well said, Annalyn. As you mentioned, the default status for many young Christians is – “Married” or “Looking,” but singleness (as in long term potentially life-long in some cases) is rarely addressed in sermons, etc.

    My congregation has a small group of middle aged single women who together form their own support structure. Some had been married before, some had not, but together they are content in where the Lord has placed them now – in a state of singleness. They are not looking for marriage or re-marriage, they are serving the Lord in their current state. And how they are serving – being actively involved in some great ministry work for women in need and in a few cases, opening their homes to women in difficult situations.

    I have also known men who lived full lives single, never being married and, in the end, never having the nagging feeling that they’re missing something without marriage. We have in my tiny congregation at least one lifelong male bachelor, and he has been content and has a full life with his friends/family.

    Paul is always the example given of the “single for the Lord” persona, and I get that, but we often forget that Christ chose not to marry. Jesus could have married, and a man His age in that culture would have been expected to be married. He did not. Our true example of perfection as a Christian chose the single state for His mission on Earth.

    I am one who did feel the emptiness of being single and, as such, am married these past 8 years with 4 children. I regret none of that. But, I understand those who make the decision to remain single – either for a season or for life. It’s a respectable decision and I wish more were able to see it as you so aptly pointed it out.

    Leave a Reply
    • Annalyn
      22 July 2015 at 3:27 am

      Thank you so much for commenting, Matthew! It’s especially encouraging to hear about the singles you’ve known in your church.

      Leave a Reply
  • anon
    22 July 2015 at 1:51 am

    I relate to this. Currently, I’m 26 and single, and I know that single is where I ought to be now. (I’ve never even had a boyfriend before.) I’m unemployed, and still have a LOT of growing to do. While some of my peers are already married, I still have yet to come into my own.

    I also think that if I had a family of my own, I would have far less energy to offer to the greater world beyond my four walls. I really hope to get married in the future, but I’m also leaning towards remaining childfree by choice. It’s a controversial choice within Christian circles, but there are some serious, practicing Christian couples who choose to remain childfree. Many of them find that it helps them serve the people around them; they have some of the advantages that singles have, but still have the responsibility of marriage. (Most of them are still pro-life, too.) What’s your take on this?

    Leave a Reply
    • Annalyn
      22 July 2015 at 4:07 am

      Thank you for commenting, Anon! I’ve noticed that some people grow well as married couples… and some of us need to grow a little more as singles first. Letting go of my traditional family dream has exposed faults in my perspective that I wasn’t able to face before.

      I, too, am leaning toward childfree. I didn’t really consider a childless future until recently, but here are some of my thoughts so far:

      I like children well enough. Unfortunately, while adults drain my energy, young children can stress me out five times as quickly. Sure, it might be a little different when it’s your own kids, but… I recently was stressed to the point of tears after a relatively short amount of time with my five-year-old cousin. I enjoyed hanging out with her, but the next day, I had to go hide in my room, even though I really, really wanted to spend time with her and the rest of my visiting relatives. This surprised me. I’ve had anxiety issues in the past, but I’m in a healthy place right now. If I respond this way when life is relatively healthy and balanced… it might take a miracle for me to become mother material. I still have motherly instincts, though. And I want to be the best aunt I can be—including to those who aren’t technically related to me.

      I’m pretty conservative, I run in conservative circles, and I’m strongly pro-life. It’s one thing for me to talk about singleness and childlessness. But marriage and purposeful childlessness? Not even adopting (or at least not adopting anyone younger that their teens)? That’s an idea I’m still mulling over. I don’t see it as wrong. But if I do go in that direction, I’ll have to do a lot of research—both theological and otherwise—about birth control. There are certain pills and hormone-related options that I’d refuse to use, for multiple reasons. And I’d have to explain to potential mates, “Hey, just living with you is going to be hard, so I can’t have a family. Kids aren’t important to you, are they?”

      Sorry for the long response. I’m still thinking through a lot of this, praying, and seeking wisdom. Remember, until a few months ago, I still thought I’d get married and start having kids by the time I was thirty (an absurd idea, knowing my personality, etc., but childhood expectations are powerful and long-lasting). I expect I’ll have a better-formed answer in another six months, and even better in a year.

      Leave a Reply
      • anon
        29 December 2015 at 11:40 am

        Hello! Same anon here. I read your message, and thought up a long reply myself, which I will post later. But here is an article you may like: http://www.cph.org/b-179-what-young-people-are-really-called-to-do.aspx?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_content=What+young+people+are+called+to+do&utm_campaign=Facebook

        Basically, the author talks about how marriage is often seen as inevitable, but it really *shouldn’t* be seen as a promised expectation of God.

        What percentage of the population, do you think, has the “gift of singleness”?

        Leave a Reply
        • Annalyn
          30 December 2015 at 8:28 pm

          I look forward to your reply!

          Thank you for linking to that article—it’s interesting and encouraging to read other Christian young people’s perspective on singleness. The idea that marriage is promised and that “God has just the man for you” is a rather overdone feel-good message. God is involved in our relationships, and he’s working in the lives of a lot of people’s future spouses. But that doesn’t mean everyone is guaranteed to get married, and the “encouragements” single people receive can get pretty off. So this was a good article.

          Most people get married, especially, I think Christians (since living with our significant other is off-limits until marriage). I’d have to look up the stats same as you. I’m not sure about calling it a “gift of singleness,” though… if you mean how many people never get married, and are not meant to…. again, it’s a small number. Many of us have no idea how long we’ll be single. I’m guessing somewhere between a few years and the rest of my life, but I don’t know. I’m just content with singleness as my Plan A, and for now, this is the best way for me to serve others.

          Leave a Reply
          • anon
            1 December 2016 at 10:54 am

            I’m back! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It seems like there is a correlation between introversion and taking the childless path. The childfree-by-choice (CFBC) issue seems very controversial in Christian circles–some say it is wrong, others say it is fine. It certainly looks like it’s one of those gray areas, unlike homosexuality. If people make a blanket statement that the CFBC path is wrong, then that’s not fair to certain personality types who genuinely benefit from it. And it would put people who marry later at a disadvantage (a woman may feel a need to “hurry up” and marry so she could have babies).

            Yeah, the birth control issue…abortive methods are definitely out. Some couples use 2 birth control methods. And some couples get sterilized–that’s an option. I even know of some people who got sterilized before their weddings! I think marrying later would work in my favor because lower chances of conception haha. But if God were to give me a child, I would accept that and raise him/her as God would want me to (and my husband would be there with me). I never say never! 🙂 I think it’s important to discuss with your prospective spouse, before marriage, what your plans are regarding children; it’s good to make sure you’re on the same page, so if he dreams of having kids, and you’re not so enthusiastic about it, you two may not be a match in that regard.

            There’s a notion that those who choose to remain childless by choice are selfish. Well, not all people who choose a particular path are the same. Like I mentioned earlier, some people have found that it allowed them to serve in ways they couldn’t if they had children. One CFBC woman was able to pursue her passion for nursing, for example. Another was able to use her time and energy to look after her aging and disabled parents, putting them before her career. And here’s a screencap I saved: http://imgur.com/a/I5Rhq

            I think the emphasis on marriage and family is to counteract the sex-saturated secular world.

            I like children and work with them. So I am not some cold-hearted witch or something. It’s just that I don’t have a superstrong desire to have my own. Other women talked about how they dreamed, as girls, of having children of their own someday. And that notion, sounds…rather foreign to me.

            Anyway, I should focus on living how God intends for me to live now. Currently, singleness is also the best way for me to serve God and others.
            Wow, looks like I get lengthy too!

  • Annalyn's Corner: Toxic Chocolate, Singleness, and Other Anime Valentines | Beneath the Tangles
    14 February 2017 at 3:15 pm

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  • Gorsajin
    17 February 2017 at 8:52 pm
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