Ohayou gozaimas! College is approaching faster and faster, and on this last Monday before school hits, I finally am settling down to write a blog post. College is definitely home to a wealth of new experiences, and I keep finding new surprises around each corner. Last fall, I discovered that one of my new friends was secretly an otaku, and we had an awesome time just talking back and forth about the anime we’ve seen and the stories we enjoy. Realizing that I’m not alone within my small circle of friends is really encouraging, and it’s made me realize that there are often interesting parallels between the way I view my hobbies and the way that I view my faith.
I’ve always been something of a nerd growing up. Where most guys would run to the basketball court, I’d find myself gravitating towards the library, patiently awaiting the next issue of whatever comic I was reading. Being different never really hurt me, but it did manage to keep me in something of a self-constructed box as a kid. While my friends would gush over the latest pop song or Disney Channel star, I’d be sitting in the corner with my copy of The Amazing Spider-Man, content to let Peter Parker’s problems become my own, if only for a few minutes.
While I never lacked for social interaction as a kid, I always found it special when a friend I knew was interested in the same nerdy habits as I was. Looking back, I remember that my best friends were pretty much always the ones who had the same interests as me. The guys who weren’t afraid to tout their knowledge of comic universes and brag about seeing superhero movies with their dads. Like me. The difference between my friends and my best friends wasn’t so much that we accepted the others’ habits, but more that we each understood and reciprocated those feelings.
Being an otaku, I understand even more fully how awesome it is to find people who share your interests. When the common stereotype of the anime enthusiast is an overweight, perverted, Japanese-saturated weeaboo, it can be hard to express yourself without some kind of blowback from other people. Often, the most unashamed weebs tend to be the worst at destroying stereotypes, so the rest of us tend to blend in, a testament to the ninja we love so much.
As I thought about the struggle of the otaku and the way I express my love for various hobbies, the question hit me: don’t I often treat my faith like a hobby?
As much as I love God and what He’s done for me, I often find myself less-than-enthusiastic when it comes to publicly proclaiming that fact. Oh, I love it when I find other Christians and I’m more than happy to answer questions about faith, but when it comes to letting the general public know about my passion, I tend to let it slide under the radar. It’s easier to blend in and see if anyone spots me than it is for me to make it more obvious. Yet…isn’t that wrong?
The Apostle Paul was a man so convinced of Christ’s power in his life that he wrote in Romans 1:16 that he was “not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”. Paul began his career as a Pharisee, actively hunting and killing Christians because he believed that they taught heresy. His life was transformed when he met Christ during his travels, and his enthusiasm was kicked up to new heights as he preached of God’s grace and goodness. Clearly, this was a man who understood what it meant to be a Christian.
So, then, what should our response be?
As both a nerd and a Christian, I want to see more people accept and come to understand my passions. In order to do that, I have to be willing to share them. To make the world you want to see, you have to start to become part of it. One can’t begin by simply shoving their ideas down people’s throats, but by learning to understand other people. Get involved; start to learn about people’s lives, passions, and fears. As you share ideas and plans, your understanding of one another will grow, and the reasons you love what you love will become more than apparent.
More than a sociopath, maybe you like first-person shooters because it’s the only way you can chat with friends.
Maybe her love for fantasy books stems from her need to escape from an abusive background.
Maybe that guy’s haircut is his pocket rebellion against a family that treats him like dirt.
The more we understand one another, the more we’ll be able to share the truth with one another.
It all starts with coming out of the closet.