heaven_sunset

On The Weight Of Glory – Part 2

Last time I left off, C.S. Lewis was saying that mankind, in general, was far too easily pleased, with misplaced and essentially weak desires. You can read the first part here. I’ve omitted a small excerpt talking about proper rewards. If you want to read the entire chapter, you can do so here.

Now, if we are made for heaven, the desire for our proper place will be already in us, but not yet attached to the true object, and will even appear as the rival of that object…

…If a transtemporal, transfinite good is our real destiny, then any other good on which our desire fixes must be in some degree fallacious, must bear at best only a symbolical relation to what will truly satisfy.

In speaking of this desire for our own far-off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you – the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both.

We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name.

 

This week has been a struggle. I haven’t felt like writing, or praying, or doing anything really, and as a result I just keep getting more exhausted, making more excuses, and being more sad. I’m remembering all of the nights like these when my mom would make me hot cocoa and we’d stay up late and talk. I’m thinking about how much she loved this song and this scent and this movie. I’m frustrated when my work suffers because I can’t concentrate.

C.S. Lewis is always my fall-back, and with excerpts like this, it’s no wonder why. It is my desire for good which makes me want my mom back. But I always fail to remember that the good is in the future, not the past. This desire for good has manifested in my mind as my desire for my mother because I believe that she was one of the closest things in my experience to Heaven. And my tiny human brain just assumes that those memories were the real thing when they were only a sample, a symbol – fallacious to a degree.

My real desire for happiness, for joy, for peace, for my mother, is in the glory of eternal life. And as long as I am fixated on the past, on my own grief or self-pity, I will never get there. I must remember that this is but a journey, a sea voyage, and if I fall in love with the boat I’ll never reach land.

This, too, shall pass.

Note: Everyone has experienced loss, frustration, disappointment, and grief, and I am no different. My life is no longer about me losing, it isn’t about “poor Mariah,” this is about me recovering from years of forgetting how to love. Only then can I heal.

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sunset

On The Weight Of Glory – Part I

While I’ve never read this book in its entirety, I’ve read the Weight of Glory chapter in Weight of Glory and it is quite possibly one of my favorite chapters of any book I’ve ever read. And I read a lot. That is why I want to go a little more in-depth with it, because it is a reading that never gets old for me. It always moves me and makes me wonder at my own faith, my neighbor, my love for God, and love in general. And it never ceases to amaze me. C.S. Lewis was a brilliant man.

If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love.

You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love.

The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire.

If there lurks in more modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith.

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.

We are far too easily pleased.

We are half-hearted creatures. Our Lord finds our desires too weak.

What a mind-blowing, humbling thought. So many people look at Christianity as an enormous sacrifice, and it is genuinely hard for me at times to not see it that way as well.

With love, we have the opposite problem, believing that we are owed every pleasure, that if I don’t feel it, it’s not real.

But neither is true.

Christianity is stunning, it’s beautiful and brilliant, and utterly amazing – filled with true joy and genuine happiness. It is a perpetual holiday at the sea when we’ve been playing in the slums our entire life. Who could not want that? Who would deny themselves that? And yet, we are so concerned with our mud pies that we refuse to understand that it could be so, so, so much better.

The most remarkable part of it all is that God knows the deepest longings of our hearts, He understands what will make us happy in a way that we could never even contemplate; all we have to do is give him the chance. To answer the door to his knock.

And Love. Oh, Love. It’s something we seek, something we chase, something we live our entire lives hoping for when the real source is found in God and in ourselves. Until we learn that the self-denial is not an end in itself, until we see that pleasure is not an end in itself – until we acknowledge that the end, the purpose of love is securing the good of those we love – we will only be living a half-life.

The goal isn’t to be thinking about whether we are selfish or unselfish. The goal isn’t to think about whether we are giving the other person enough. The goal isn’t to think about whether we are being given enough.

The goal is to think about others, not ourselves at all – to live passionately for the Lord, to think about Him, His glory, and His people whom we were put here to love. Whole-heartedly, without reserve, and with the fullness of charity.

“Love, and do what you will.”