A few evenings ago I got together with a group of friends (Lisa, Brian, Josh and Jenny) to discuss Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Here's a passage Brian shared:
"That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.
We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through. He never talked vague, idealistic gas. When he said, 'Be perfect,' He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder - in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
Since Easter is still fresh in everyone's mind let me mix those two analogies together and say I'm feeling very much like a painted egg these days. Why are my God moments so far apart? Why do I find it so difficult to turn to Him and surrender my crappy day/bad attitude/impatience/arrogance/fear/loneliness, etc.?
I want to be set free. I want to fly. I don't want to remain an ordinary, decent egg. Heck, I don't even feel like an ordinary, decent egg. I feel like a bad egg.
Jesus telling us to 'Be perfect' is just plain deflating. I suppose he's saying to strive for perfect love; not that it is possible to achieve it -at least not for any length of time. (Unless perhaps you are off on a mountain top or in a monastery removed from the world and it's unending assults, but even that is debatable.) Sorry Lewis but Jesus does seem rather vague and idealistic to me sometimes.
I often wonder if the people in my life (family, friends) notice any real change in my attitudes and behaviours since I've embarked on this journey with Jesus. Unfortunately I don't think they'd see much change at all. I feel like a big fat failure a lot. Brian said that the people in our life can't always perceive the changes taking place and when I think about the inner battles I've been fighting without the knowledge of those closest to me I'm sure he's right.
Jenny reminded me that it can be very difficult to recognize change on a day to day basis but over time we can see what has eluded us. Yes, when I compare the me I am today to the me I was two years ago I can see big changes.
Josh had a good point too. He said that even the fact that I'm questioning myself is proof that change is taking place. It's true that I'm über aware of all that I'm doing wrong now; how short I fall. Every thought, feeling and action is held under a microscope for inspection and it appears I'm a very sick girl. But this way of living, this constant vigilance, is exhausting and depressing. I suppose that's why it's so important to balance that reality with God's unlimited love and grace.