“He who forgives and acknowledges himself…that is what it truly means to be strong!”
“If you want to know who you are, you have to look at your real self and acknowledge what you see.”– Itachi Uchiha, Naruto Shippuden
***Disclaimer: I finished Naruto Shippuden with my boyfriend recently, and I truly fell in love with the whole Naruto franchise. There is so much depth in that show, it’s crazy. While I understand that identity crisis can truly only be healed through understanding our identity in Christ, I just thought it was awesome how these two quotes were brought to my attention, and have helped me do some self-reflection about my own identity. Just had to say that 😁
I was looking up a specific Itachi Uchiha quote for the pictures I took yesterday in my Akatsuki tank top (because Itachi is my favorite Akatsuki member in Naruto. I went through a lot of emotions regarding him, but he truly is amazing), and I found these other quotes that I resonated with heavily. This past week I had to come to terms with some things I’d already come to terms with previously, but had to think about again. And it honestly made me annoyed and irritated at myself; like I couldn’t get it right the first time, so here I am, having to start over again, or so it felt like.
There were so many things last week that grabbed my attention: the message I heard from God about looking through His eyes, several devotionals I’d read through this week, hard conversations that needed to be had, being by myself and facing things on my own, writing habits down that I needed to break, hearing yesterday’s sermon about my identity in Christ, how I am not to love the world and what it stands for, but to be in the world, and speak the Gospel, the Truth, and now these quotes. Everything that happened last week needed to happen before this new week began, before I went back to work, and back to possibly being busy again (I hope not).
Both of these Itachi’s quotes, I believe, are from when he was fighting with Kabuto, another main character, one of the villains, whose whole story is about finding out exactly who he is. He struggles by trying to take on traits and skills of other characters in the show, and ultimately, does his best to become just like another one of the main villains, Orochimaru by transfusing some of his blood into his body, and doing other experiments. He does all this because he is unsure of what his true identity is.
Itachi’s words were directed at Kabuto’s story, telling him that he needed to acknowledge who he was outside of all his efforts to try to become someone else.
Let’s talk about the first quote…
As I said before, having to face some issues I had already been dealing with again just made me irritated with myself. It made me want to mentally beat myself up, like, Seriously, why have you not moved past this yet? It can be hard to forgive other people, but for me, it really is hard to forgive myself for things I’ve done or said. And I use the excuse sometimes that because it’s me and not another person, I can be more harsh about it, which isn’t right. It’s that perfectionist side really trying to get at me.
It also makes me not want to acknowledge who I am; to be transparent, I’ve been having issues accepting the fact that I’m just not like everyone else. There’s this silent pressure I put myself under to be a certain way, either because I’m a poet or because I’m dating a rapper, or whatever, and it’s been difficult for me to learn to just be who I am because the people who are actively in my life are there because I was authentically myself, and not trying to be like anyone else.
Admittedly, it’s taken some strength to embrace myself as I am. So Itachi’s first words here really hit me when I read them. And I strive to continue to be strong in forgiving myself even when I still stumble into comparing myself or desiring to be something or someone I’m not.
And now, the second quote…
I feel like a lot of people could read this quote and be like, “DUH, Itachi!” But how many of us look at ourselves in the mirror and wish we looked like someone else? How many times do we do something or act a certain way, and wish we could be different? Do we wish we could be more or less of anything…loud, quiet, brave, creative, etc.? Or, how many times do we watch someone else behave a certain way, and long to be similar?
When Itachi says “real self,” I’d like to think it means seeing me stripped of all outside opinions…what is left? How do I see myself, not in relation to anyone or anything? Then, can I slowly add on outside factors that are true to form my identity – the things that I personally believe, that stand for who I am, and not things I claimed are a part of me based off of anyone or anything else?
Knowing who we really are is understanding our character traits, personalities, and physical features, and accepting them as they are because that’s who God made us to be…not because we changed ourselves to fit in someway, somehow. It doesn’t mean we can’t mature or change, but here in this moment, we have to acknowledge ourselves, and be more than okay with the way we are.
And most importantly, we have to know that God acknowledges us as we are. He loves us so much, that He longs for us to come as we are to Him. We don’t have to be all “cleaned up,” we don’t have to have a perfect performance history, we don’t have to have perfect church attendance, He’s just asking us to be vulnerable with Him, and to surrender our identity to Him, because He sees us as we are, and He desires for us to see ourselves the way He sees us – fearfully and wonderfully made.
Who says an anime can’t help you learn something? 😉
Have you ever felt like Kabuto: searching for your true identity by taking on other people’s characteristics, styles, views/beliefs, routines? Have you ever tried to make yourself physically look like someone else because you didn’t like what you saw in the mirror? How would you define your “real self”? When was the last time you went to God as you are: not trying to ask for things, not trying to appear “better” than you are or feel, but truly calling on Him in vulnerability?