In the 2023 anime “Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War,” Rukia is frozen in fear as she battles to save the Seireitei. But then her brother Byakuya shows up not to finish the enemy off but to strengthen her with words of encouragement that completely change her situation. What about encouragement changes the atmosphere of a person’s life? How can your words of encouragement change the lives of the upcoming generation? Join us as Dallas examines these questions.

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I’m watching “Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War,” and things are beginning to get wild. The good guys are losing. The bad guys are getting cocky. And now, in this most recent episode last week, Rukia shows up and is not playing around. She’s reinvigorated because she’s discovered some new abilities that she has. She’s grown her own strength but faces an enemy who focuses on fear. At first, she was doing well. She’s overcoming it, but then she is overwhelmed by the enemy’s attack and is overwhelmed with fear until her brother shows up and speaks some fantastic and encouraging words that honestly could do us all good.

Byakuya is Rukia’s older brother. If you haven’t watched Bleach before, Rukia and Byakuya have an interesting relationship. Rukia is his sister by marriage. And when his wife died, he swore to take care of Rukia through and through. But because he comes from a noble family, he’s very cold and stern. Byakuya doesn’t show a lot of emotion. As a result, he hasn’t been the most encouraging of individuals for Rukia over the years. This has led to Rukia living her life in his shadow, trying to get his approval, trying to live up to the standard that he has. Rukia has tried so hard, and there’s this insecurity inside her that perhaps she’s not strong enough to have his approval.    

Now, there are many things we can go into, but an interesting moment takes place in this most recent episode of Bleach, Thousand Year Blood War. See, like I said, she’s overwhelmed, and suddenly he shows up and makes short work of the current situation. But the enemy is still in front of her. The enemy of fear is still there. And while he could take care of it, he looked to Rukia and said, “On my way, I could tell you’re so much stronger now.” And when she heard those words,  something clicked in her spirit.      

These kind, gentle words he’s spoken to her have done something in her spirit. There was an approval. There was a sign going, “I am proud of you.” When this happens, that insecurity that’s been holding onto her that is the root of her fear begins to melt away. Byakuya says to her, “Fear is not born in a vacuum but feeds off the insecurities of the heart.” He’s speaking legitimately to the situation. He understands what’s happening in Rukia’s mind and her spirit. The word of affirmation, “You’re stronger now,” wiped away many of those insecurities.  

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been discussing how to reach the next generation and help and equip them. One of the things that I’ve seen in the younger generation is that there is a plethora of insecurities that they carry. A lot of it stems from them simply trying to earn the approval of an older generation. On the surface, it doesn’t look like it, but deep down, they want to know that they’re good enough, can make it, and are doing the right thing. They need those words of affirmation. What doesn’t help the situation is when you have an older generation looking at a younger generation saying that they’re worthless,  a bunch of pansies, a bunch of snowflakes, and that there’s no value to what they have.      

I think some people think it’s a matter of tough love, but what that has done instead is that it’s raised a wall between the younger and older generations. Instead of walking in grace, walking in what they have in front of them because of the hopeful guidance of an older generation, they’re instead walking down a path of destruction paved with the ill words of an older generation. Some of you have been watching this; you’ll be like, “Who does this?” I’m telling you right now; I’ve had to delete comments from some of our videos that we’ve been talking about because that’s precisely what’s being said about the younger generation by some older folks.  

There is a proverb that’s out there that is super poignant here. It says this:

A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.

Proverbs 15:4

What this proverb is teaching us is that we need to be conscious about our words, about what we say, about how we speak to people. When we speak life, and we speak hope, it builds a tree of life. There are roots there; it’s healthy, brings shade, comfort, and sustains life. But if we’re demeaning to people, if we’re putting people down,  even if we’re just kidding in the wrong timeframe of just joking, it will bring destruction to an individual’s life. It will crush their spirit. Rukia’s spirit was crushed, not on purpose. It wasn’t like Byakuya was trying to hurt her on purpose. He’s just doing life as stoically as he’s been taught that he has to be, not realizing that that was building up these insecurities in Rukia. Rukia just simply needed her brother to say, “You’re stronger.” Give a sign of approval and help her.    

My challenge to you guys is to be cognitive about the words you speak to those around you, the younger generation, and everyone else. Be cognitive about how you encourage or don’t encourage those times. Be cognitive about how you bring correction. You can speak positively while you’re bringing correction. You can speak positively while trying to help somebody understand that perhaps they’re taking the wrong path and there’s a better way. As we do that, we will see things shift in the next generation. There will be less angst going, “Well, forget you. I’m going to do my own thing.” There will be a shift where they will be able to walk in grace, knowing that there is a generation who genuinely loves them, stands behind them, and encourages them to do their best.