Ok, so I promised you some CS Lewis and to share some other stuff that has been 'speaking' to me recently.
From CS Lewis' "The Problem of Pain":
"We think we are kind when we are only happy; it is not so easy, on the same grounds, to imagine oneself temperate, chaste, or humble."
"When we merely say that we are bad, the 'wrath' of God seems a barbarous doctrine; as soon as we perceive our badness, it appears inevitable."
"If, being cowardly, conceited, and slothful, you have never yet done a fellow creature great mischief, that is only because your neighbour's welfare has not yet happened to conflict with your safety, self-approval, or ease."
"We try, when we wake, to lay the new day at God's feet; before we have finished shaving, it becomes our day and God's share in it is felt as a tribute which we must pay out of 'our own' pocket, a deduction from the time which ought, we feel, to be 'our own.'"
"The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it."
"Pain insists upon being attended to."
"...the ugliest things in human nature are perversions of good or innocent things."
"We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it's there for emergencies but he hopes he'll never have to use it."
"...it is a poor thing to strike our colours to God when the ship is going down under us; a poor thing to come to Him as a last resort, to offer up 'our own' when it is no longer worth keeping."
"It is hardly complimentary to God that we should choose Him as an alternative to Hell: yet even this He accepts."
"Prostitutes are in no danger of finding their present life so satisfactory that they cannot turn to God: the proud, the avaricious, the self-righteous, are in that danger."
I could go on and on. Although I don't agree with everything that Lewis has ever said, he never fails to intrigue me and make me think. If his goal was to make his readers ponder God, then he was wildly successful. I'm currently reading "The Abolition of Man." Not sure why I've been on such a Lewis kick this year, but I'm not complaining.
I also read Ecclesiastes recently. I have now figured out two things: one, with much wisdom comes much jadedness. (sheesh!) and two, I talk far too much.
Far too much.
In Solomon's eyes, there are two types of people: fools and wisemen. I apparently fall into the fool category. Solomon repeats fairly often that those who speak many words are fools. I tend to process my thoughts outloud. Most of what comes out of my mouth is a trial version of what will eventually become an opinion. It's important for me to have girlfriends because I talk a lot, and my friends will listen and point out the flaws in my thinking and where I'm being inconsistant. And that helps to develop my thoughts. Since moving to Colorado, I haven't had a lot of those kinds of people in my life. And I've been walking around saying some ridiculously foolish stuff. (I'm not blaming my stupidity on my lack of friends. I'm a fool even with a flock of friends. I simply wish that I still had those buffers in my life. Yes, I've met people and made friends since moving here, but for some reason, I have resisted sharing my heart with them. Not sure what's going on there - but I'll come back to it in a sec.)
Last night, I had some dear friends of mine from TX visit, and within minutes, I was opening up like I haven't done in a few years. I made some really solid friendships when I lived in North Texas, and I miss having those kinds of relationships. For some reason, I haven't allowed myself to actually open up to anyone here. Sure there have been times when I shared my past, but I haven't been sharing (or really even acknowledging) my present feelings with many people recently. I feel like I'm a pretty high-maintenance kind of person. I can be really emotional, and I have some cruddy crud that I deal with. Because of this, I've isolated myself. Not physically - I show up to church and church functions. I volunteer with AWANAs and attend MOPS. But I'm only allowing myself to have these surface'y relationships, where I neither share a lot about myself nor ask a lot about them. My sweet friends from TX pointed that out to me last night as I was complaining that my husband doesn't share a lot about himself with me. I stumbled around for a few seconds, flailing around in my brain to find an excuse for why it's totally acceptable for me to do it and unacceptable for hubby to do it, but I knew they were right. I just hung my head and said 'crap.'
and this was not the first time of the evening where it had been *gently* pointed out to me that I am upset with my husband over something that I myself am doing too. What a kick to the teeth! Riping off the blinders in my life is painful, but I can't tell you how much I value a good friend who is willing to gently do that for me. I can't tell you how grateful I am to friends who care enough to point out where I'm screwing up. My problem is that I'm not letting anyone here in Colorado be that for me. I'm not opening up to anyone. and I'm not sure why, other than just being concerned that I'm too high-maintenance.
Not only did being with these friends help me break down this wall that I was unaware that I had built between me and everyone around me, but God noticed. I could almost hear His still, quiet voice, saying "Oh hey, would you look at that?! Lisa just pried her grubby little hands off of her heart. NOW I can do something in there!" Yea, so God's been poking around in there, getting rid of some garbage. I wonder if it feels to Him something like watching "Hoarders" feels like to me.
Oh wait. There's more!
Not only did my friends visit and take my whole family out to dinner (my kids were instantly smitten with them both!), but they wanted to attend a church service with me. He had seen on this here ol' blog a link to the Scum of the Earth church and had sent me an email asking for more details about it. So I directed him to read the book 'Pure Scum,' by Mike Sares, which I've talked about before. A short time later, he wrote me back and said he had just read the book and wanted to attend a service there with me when he and his beautiful (my goodness, she is beautiful!) wife came up to visit. So last night, we got our chance to go up there. Mr. Sares was preaching, which is a treat, on matters of the heart. Like hard-heartedness, specifically regarding marriage. He called it cardio-cirrhosis. There are some difficult passages of Scripture about marriage and divorce and adultery and covenants, and Mike went there and brought us all along with him. What I love most about Mike, and Scum in general, is the lack of sugar-coating that a lot of churches use. He makes no claims that it'll be easy, or that we'll even like, to obey God. But that doesn't matter. What matters is following God. Regardless. With grace in one hand and truth in the other. (Don't you just love that?!)
Anyway, I walked away from the sermon with conviction that I haven't felt in a while. I have been hard-hearted with my husband. I have trampled all over him while sitting tall up on my high horse. and the scariest part to me is that -
I. Had. No. Idea!
No, really. I honestly thought I was being graceful and understanding and helpful. But no! I was being judgmental and harsh, and I've completely forbidden him from touching my heart. Yea sure, trust is something that is particularly hard for me given my past, and yea, my husband has done some stuff that has made it even more difficult to put my trust in him, but if I'm serious about working to strengthen my marriage, I can not block him from me. I can't put up a wall and not let him in. I can't harden my heart and then prevent him from trying to chip away at it. and I most certainly can't look down on him as if he's the only one struggling here. I have to get rid of this ridiculous pride that has caused me to think myself better than he.
It's a struggle to remain humble. But I hear that it's easier if you focus on God. Because you can't help it. When you realize just how good God is, you realize just how bad you are. All the minimizing and justifying that you do to help you live with yourself each day vanishes, and you see yourself for the wretch you are. Now, honestly. Show of hands - who wants to live life as a wretch? I didn't think so. The trick is to find a balance between acknowledging your wretchedness and acknowledging God's forgiveness and mercy and grace. Yea, I know. Easier said than done. But I'm working on it.
So there you have it. I have beared my heart to you all. I am taking off the layers of fear and doubt and hopefully here in the next few months (days, weeks, years, decades? I don't know) I will have let God chisel away those layers to reveal the real me. and I will have some genuine friendships where we lift each other up and hold each other accountable and gently point out areas of ours lives that we need to examine. And I pray that I will allow my husband in, that I would lose the mask and just be me with him.