Life is full of uncertainties. It doesn’t matter if you’re a millionaire stockbroker or a homeless bum living on the streets, there are always influences in your life that are outside of your own personal control. Sometimes these variables are small, like what your mom will make for dinner, sometimes they are big, like where your country will be politically over the course of your life. But the ones that touch the deepest and hit the hardest are always the ones that are close to home: the little uncertainties that are just out of our reach. The way we approach and handle these questions determines a lot about who we become as people, influencing out perspective on the world and on ourselves, and one of the most fundamental questions about ourselves is often “who am I?” It’s not always an easy question to answer, especially when it seem like everyone around you has it all together. It’s easy to look at other people and to notice the myriad of traits, quirks, and ideals that come together to form the unique individuals around you, but it is a lot harder to look inward. How am I supposed to know who I am as a person when I have so many faults? How can I ever be as good or as together as that person, when I feel so alone? God doesn’t even seem to care about me, how can anyone?
As crucial as self-identity is, we often don’t know how to recognize it in ourselves, or even how to cultivate it. So we choose the easier route, and attach ourselves to someone or something; we build our whole identity around what we do, what we like, or what we want to be. Sometimes though, we aren’t free to choose our identity. Sometimes circumstances or people force us into roles and we have no choice but to carry them out to the best of our ability. But what happens when these roles and identities are taken away from us? What then? What do we do? Many anime use this as a vehicle for story and character development, but from the anime that I’ve seen, not many have done it as well as Chaika the Coffin Princess, and in particular the character of Toru.
Toru is born into a clan of saboteurs, ninja/assassin style warriors who use their particular skills and magic abilities to help change the tide of battle in favor of whatever nation hires them. In the wake of the defeat of the evil wizard warlord Emperor Gaz, Toru has had nothing to do. When the war ended, so did his purpose as a saboteur, thus he wanders aimlessly, jobless, living with his clan sister Akari. Toru has no joy in his life, simply surviving from day to day. But that all changes when the Fire Nation attacks he meets Chaika, a strange girl who claims to be the lost daughter of Emperor Gaz. Wanting to track down the scattered remains of Emperor Gaz (the remains of the dead are a source of magical power in their world, thus, Gaz’s body was cut apart and scattered) in order to give him a proper funeral, Toru accepts her request for help wholeheartedly. He doesn’t care about the potential danger or unrest that his decision could cause: when confronted by another character, Toru expresses that if helping Chaika would start a war, he would do it gladly in order to have a role to fulfil, and a purpose to guide his life. For Toru, he had no identity until someone outside of him, someone who had a clear plan and goal in mind came along and enlisted him. Alone, Toru would have continued in his grey existence, just getting by from day to day, not living, not learning, just surviving.
As Christians, while we aren’t called to be super assassins, we are called to take up our cross every day and follow Christ. Through Christ we find true self-identity; His death on the cross brought us into God’s family as His children, and as such we can find true purpose in Him. We won’t always know the reasons He brings different circumstances and people our way, and we will be hurt during this journey. But through it all we have assurance that He is with us every step of the way. We are not alone. We are not unloved. We are not abandoned. No matter the circumstances that come at you each day, whether it be at school, on the job, at home, with friends, always remember who you are: a child of the King. You are loved unconditionally by One who will never leave you, never badmouth you behind your back, never look down on you, and will never treat you as if you are worthless. And through all the rough-and-tumble uncertainties of life, He will remain constant and steady, always available for you to lean on.