|Naru's Bizarre Adventures of Mandom|
Pride After A Fall
In Episode 3, Seishuu enters a work into a calligraphy contest, which wins second place... with first place going to a new, 18-year-old calligrapher. Seishuu is hit quite hard by this, feeling quite a lot of pain from being outdone by a "rookie". When Miwa and Tama cannot talk him out of it, they leave him to Naru, who gets him to go for some mochi-catching. Unfortunately for him, his mochi-catching skills leave much to be desired, which gives him an opportunity to really think about his own pride.
There's a reason why pride is oftentimes considered the worst of the "seven deadly sins". Pride makes it impossible to learn anything, even after the fall that pride oftentimes comes before. It is very telling when Miwa and Tama withdraw from trying to help Seishuu "snap out of it", as they note how his pride makes any words completely ineffectual. It is one thing for someone to think so highly of himself that he is unprepared for the fall from the pedestal he put himself on, but because that pride is still there, desperately trying to salvage the broken pieces of itself, it is impossible for him to recover from that fall by himself or with the words of others.
Thankfully, during the mochi-catching event, he is able to realize that his own abilities really are not as good as he thinks they are, which allows old lady and expert mochi-catcher Yasu-ba to help him out, by telling him to stop always looking up and simply pick up the mochi that has fallen on the ground. And if other, stronger people (such as expert mochi-snatcher Panchi) try to take them away from him, just politely let them have it and go looking for bigger mochi. What Yasu-ba teaches is a lesson in humility, in not trying to overestimate (or underestimate) our capabilities, and not putting too much weight in trying to compete with others stronger than us.
Humility is an important part of a Christian's walk, too. For Christians, looking up can actually help us with humility, as when we remind ourselves of how great and perfect God is, it can also remind us of how much we just simply cannot compare to Him. Then, if we can move from finding a sense of worth in what we think of ourselves to finding our worth in God and His love for us, we move from having prideful hearts that cannot accept God's grace to humble hearts that can.
Of course, pride is still something that we can struggle with, especially when we see other people that are better than us in aspects that we want to grow in. While a healthy competitive spirit can promote growth, sometimes it is best to simply let those other people have their wins and continue onward.
Fear of Failure
Episode 4 sees Seishuu up against his toughest job yet: painting a name on a boat. He has to use unfamiliar materials, the surface is curved instead of the standard flat calligraphy paper, and the one who commissioned him for the job seems awfully scary. All of this petrifies Seishuu as he is unwilling to start in fear that he will make a mistake and invite the wrath of the boat's owner. Thankfully, Naru and some other kids are around to take matters into their own hands (literally), which helps Seishuu get started.
Fear of failure is a pretty natural and common fear, and it's one that even experienced Christians can encounter, especially if their experience puts them in positions of greater responsibility. While cautious judgment is helpful in any situation, if we are so cautious that we cannot even do anything, something is wrong. In those times, it is good to remember that God does not love us more or less based on whether we succeed or not. He has plenty of grace for us if we make mistakes; what is most important is that we obey Him and do what He asks us to do, even if we slip up along the way.
In times when the fear of failure stares us in the face, the most important thing is to take that first step. Sometimes, God Himself will give us a push to get things started. Once we start, we may find it easier to move past that fear, as we start to gain experience and confidence, and perhaps even make a couple of mistakes and learn what is the best way to recover from those mistakes. Whatever the case, look to God's grace as a massive safety net, and perhaps we can walk onto the tightrope with a little more faith.