The Japanese language has a few words to describe some personality types that don’t translate concisely into English. A slew of them end with the suffix “-dere,” meaning “lovestruck” (deep love).
There are tusnderes (mean on the outside, sweet on the inside), kuuderes (cold on the outside, sweet on the inside)…
and even the yandere.
Coupling “yanderu,” which means “sick,” with “dere” for lovestruck, gives us “yandere,” which literally means, “to be sick in the head over love.”
Anime loves to portray this kind of person as a stark-raving mad human being, usually a girl, who is obsessed with violence. She kills anyone who looks tempting to her mate, and she can even kill her love interest himself if she thinks he has been unfaithful.
But that’s the extreme case. Yandere also comes out whenever anyone becomes obsessively dangerous over someone that they love. It could be a best friend. It could be a parent. It could be a child.
It may not take the form of pickaxe violence and bloody school uniforms (This is not the type of stuff I prefer to watch!)
It could be a subtle poisoning of the mind, brainwashing of the soul, and depression of the spirit. A yandere appears to worship the one she loves, but, in reality, she worships herself. She is utterly selfish toward the object of her passion. She wants them all for herself. Her desires and “needs” are really what is worshiped.
I was the victim of a yandere once many years ago. I was found to be starving myself for this friend because they were doing it too. They were thrilled that I got thinner and thinner, hurting my body because it meant I was tortured along with them. As they suffered other tragic grief, some of their own making, I couldn’t sleep or eat either, and this made them rejoice. The more pain I felt, the more satisfied they became. I had to forsake all other friends, or this person became sick with grief, predicting how I would hurt them. I lived in the yandere’s fantasy world for a few months before someone rescued me. It was a mind-stealing place.
Looking back on it now, years removed from its grip, the yandere type seems so hard for me to understand. I am an affectionate, nurturing person. I want to simply hug my daughters, pat my husband on the back, and be balanced and unemotional when it comes to what’s best for them. The thought of rising up with a kitchen knife just boggles my mind, yet intrigues me. How does someone go so wrong? Where does deep love turn into obsession?
And then the shootings happened. We have a young man pull a gun on an elementary school, and another on college-aged young people. Or how about these sexual abuse scandals with children and church leaders?
And all I can think of is, “What if that were my child? Would I want to just defend? Or would I, in rage and panic, fight back?” It makes me see red.
We live in a scary world, but we always have. It’s really not scarier than it’s ever been. There’s always been something lurking around the corner. If you want to say that 1910 was much less scary than it is now, that there weren’t school shootings every year, I’ll shrug and agree with you. However, if you lived in 1910, you wouldn’t be fearing for your child’s life every time you sent them to school, you’d be clutching them at night as they burned with diphtheria and tuberculosis, hoping they did not die without medical aid. You’d be burying a newborn every couple of births. And, in a few years, you’d be in a world war.
I think the mothers of one hundred years ago clutched their children to their bosoms just as closely.
Fear. It’s vital that the emotion of fear was created by our all-knowing God. It keeps us from running across a road while a car speedily approaches. It keeps us from thrusting a hand into a burning flame. It keeps us returning to our homes at night and locking our doors. It keeps us alive.
However, like anything God created, if it rises up and usurps all other emotions, if it pushes God out of the picture and ignores His promises, if it throws Trust off a cliff and boils Peace for dinner, the thing that we fear becomes god in His place. We worship what we fear. If our all-consuming fear is about a loved one, we have begun to worship that human being, and, ultimately, ourselves.
“If you are afraid of people, it will trap you. But if you trust in the Lord, He will keep you safe.” Proverbs 29:25
In the troubled times we live in, that are a different trouble from our ancestors, yet real all the same, do we live life with the open hand Job had to learn about the hard way? “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” Job 1:21
Do we fear everything and everyone around us when it comes to our child? Medical personnel, germs, food, media, the opposite sex, the very air they breathe? Are we ready to claw the eyes out of the mother nearest us who doesn’t believe the same? Are you ready to disown your own child if they get the courage to “go against you” and vaccinate, or spank, or send your grandchildren to public school, or own a gun? Are we trusting mother’s intuition more than God’s Word and really just living a fearful life with a very finite, small, human-sized brain? Do we truly believe that we can do everything “Right” and God can still take our child away? That His purpose, good pleasure, and glory also means it will be good for us to experience that loss? That He is glorified most by removing that child from this earth? Or, even yet, spiritually, from His church? That it’s really not about what we do or not do, but His Holy Spirit at work in that child. That it will be for our best no matter if that child’s future takes an unexpected turn we could not foresee or change afterward? Is that shockingly impossible for us to think about? Does that make you want to lash out at God Himself?
Are we really Yanderes in “mama bear” clothing?
In these troubled times, where the world is accosting our children left and right physically, mentally, emotionally, and where it’s easy to live a life of fear, let’s remember Who holds our hearts. Who holds the hearts of our children. Let’s be loving, but not sick. Let’s love the children we have, for the time we have them, and strive to be the most righteous parent we can be. And then let’s be happy when God has His pleasure – He’s really not asking your permission – because it will be far greater than we could ever imagine. He is the same God who promised this to the Israelites:
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11
Do you feel like a yandere at times? Does your imagination run wild with all of your fears, keeping you up at night? Can you picture yourself running at the “bad guys” who threaten your children, tearing them to pieces? How do you keep fear out of your parenting?