AC Peckham

Hey y’all, AC here! No this isn’t a PRM article. Since it’s Anime April I wanted to share a devotional thought from one of my favorite animes, Blue Exorcist.

For those unfamiliar with Blue Exorcist, the story follows Rin Okumura who, after discovering that he is the son of the devil, joins True Cross academy where he works on learning to control his supernatural powers and fight against evil spirits so that he can defeat Satan. This is an intense journey full of dramatic character development as Rin wrestles with his identity, makes friends and enemies with his True Cross classmates, and comes to terms with the things he is capable of and the responsibility that comes with it.

I had already watched this series a handful of times before I began watching it again with my fiancé, Nancy, to show it to her for the first time. What was amazing about this particular run-through was that alongside her, I was able to view it with new eyes once again, noticing things I hadn’t before and even learning some important lessons. One particular lesson struck me as Rin was dealing with something I too was wrestling with quite a bit at the time, anger. 

The particular scene that struck a chord with me took place in episode 20 of season 1. While Rin’s classmates are caught in an intense situation (unspecified to avoid spoilers), Rin is being held under the supervision of Kirigakure Shura, the exorcist with whom he has been training to control his flames.

Shura: “All you have to do is learn to control them [your flames]. Then you won’t scare your friends, make them worry, or make anyone else suffer because of you. Can’t you see that?”

Rin: “Don’t you think I know that? I do!”

Shura: “Then you also know you have to do this first.” She sets three candles on the table in front of him. These candles are part of an exercise she has made him do multiple times. Each time before he has destroyed the candles, unable to focus his flames on just lighting the wick without burning the rest. 

Rin: “Are you kidding? This isn’t the time to be doing stupid drills.”

Shura: “This is not a drill. This is actual combat! The candles represent the people you care about. Unless you figure out how to control your flames, they’re all gonna die. So here’s your chance, and you only get one. It doesn’t matter if it’s a drill or combat. No one’s ever gonna trust you until you get those flames under control. So what are you waiting for, kid? An invitation? Use your willpower and make those flames do what you want then to!”

My temper is something I have always struggled with. And often times it has hurt those around me. Around the time I watched this episode with Nancy, it had been especially problematic. I had been letting my anger get the best of me over various things, and even though I didn’t mean to direct it toward my fiancé, she received some of the heat anyway. Like Rin, I had hurt someone I love because I wasn’t properly controlling my anger.

This scene reminded me of the following passage from Ephesians:

“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:26-32

It is not necessarily sinful to be angry, but when we sin in our anger, it can be dangerous not just to ourselves but to those around us. As a man preparing to marry the love of my life, this lesson came at a crucial time. Like Rin, I had let my flames burn the one I loved even though I didn’t want that to happen. Thankfully, God blessed me with an amazing woman who has been patient with me as I’ve learned to control my anger better. We have had several good talks over this matter, learning how better to express such intense emotions and communicating how we can support one another when they arise.

As a body of believers, engaging in such conversations with each other would be valuable. At the beginning of chapter four of Ephesians, we read,:

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace…. Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

Ephesians 4:1-3, 15-16

Perhaps you know someone who struggles to control their anger. Or perhaps, like myself, you’re the one who struggles with it. Like Rin, we have an important mission that can easily be hindered when we let our anger lead us to sin. So we must learn to practice self-control and properly direct our anger in a way that will be constructive rather than destructive. Through community, we may sharpen one another as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17).