You look like my first love

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“Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the Divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the hours with many mansions. For it is not humanity in the abstract that is to be saved, but you- you, the individual reader, John Stubbs of Janet Smith. Blessed and fortunate creature, your eyes shall behold Him and not another’s. All that you are, sins apart, is destined, if you will let God have His good way, to utter satisfaction. The Brocken spectre “looked to every man like its first love” because she was a cheat. But God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love. Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it-made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.”- CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain.

Why should I forgive ? Thankfulness, forgiveness and turkey

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So apparently, tomorrow in the USA, people celebrate Thanksgiving. To be honest, in France, we don’t officially celebrate it.

Some do, thought: I’ve seen students on TV once who,  attracted by this joyous tradition gathering friends and family together and, probably as well by the idea of having the oh-so-American pumpkin pie and a slice of turkey, attempted to celebrate this holiday.

Today, this post is not about celebrating myself or written in order to  bring attention to Stéphanie, but to share something that has happened to me lately and that gave me such a valuable lesson.

I once lost a friend. A dear friend of mine whom I loved dearly. We all make mistakes in relationships, but never would I have hurt her intentionally. Ever. That friend turned her back on me and walked out of my life, and girls know how devastating it can be to lose a good friend or a best friend. The friend who shared your dreams. Who knows your secrets. Who has seen you, sometimes, in your most vulnerable state. The friend you did so much for, listened to for countless hours- and after all you did for him/her, chooses to remember that one little mistake you did. Forgets all the good you’ve done. And walks away.

When friends become complete strangers.

But you fight. You fight to save your friendship. You apologize. Once. Twice. And nothing. Your kind words won’t stir up any reciprocate kindness. Your text messages are either left unanswered or, when an answer is absolutely needed, are replied with a cold, diplomatic “ok”, “yes” or “no”. Your attempts to “win the person back” are rewarded by a proud, I don’t care about you attitude.

It happened to me. And I was on the edge of looking down on that person for leaving me. I was tempted to think of myself highly, and to think that I was better than her: I’ve seen her flaws yet overlooked them. I do one mistake and she seems to hate me. The blame game is so easy.

But something happened. I realized that I was not better than her when it came to the most important relationship in my life, i.e, my relationship with God. God never wronged me. God has always been good. And with all the goodness He displayed in my life, and continues to display, how often have I answered Him with a cold, diplomatic reply ? Or answered Him at all ? Instead of being humbled by all the mercies in my life, I often take all the credit instead of being amazed at the goodness of God in spite of my shortcomings. My ungratefulness. My sins.

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?“- Romans 2:4

What happened with my friend gave me a fresh, new perspective on forgiveness and the Cross. You see, Christ, unlike me, never wronged anybody. He is good. He is life. He is love ! In spite of this, though no fault could be found in Him, He was put to death. He was rejected, despised and killed. When I was younger, and I watched movies retracing the life of the Lord, I used to condemn proudly those who killed our Lord. They are bad people. We are good.

Yet what I failed to see is that by my life and affections, I was turning my back at Christ and hating Him as well. He was the Author of Life, and the Giver of good things, and I didn’t want Him to rule over me, though what I could not understand at this time is that He was and is Lord of everything even if I don’t wanted to.

It’s incredible what the Lord has done on the cross. He has done something that never someone in History was able or even willing to do. He died for His ennemies. The perfectly Just, the King, dying for such ungrateful little humans.

You see, it is after those considerations that I began to understand what that “love your ennemies” thing came down to. If Christ the Just forgave His ennemies, I, the unjust, the forgiven, has to forgive my ennemies. As C.S Lewis puts it,

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

So tomorrow, though there will probably be no turkey in my plate, and though I won’t bake a pumpkin pie, it will be Thanksgiving. And I hope that all the days of my life would be Thanksgivings. Never He wronged me. He has been and always been the incarnation of goodness, goodness itself. He died for me.

He lost everything and took my shame. And his reply is not a cold no, yes, maybe. He went to Heaven and said He would prepare a place for us. I never deserved such goodness. I pray, therefore, that I would be thankful for His gift, and that just as He forgave me, I would forgive others as well.

“But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

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“So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” (1 Cor 15:42-44)

“But there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away”blindly” so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality: but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up your self, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”- C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity

Being ourselves at home ?

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I read those lines before going to sleep today and thought I’d share them. Below is the part of the text that caught my attention, answering a question that was very present in my mind, but that I never was able to put into words so far. How do we come to that place, that shelter called home and, there, in that little parcel that we call our own, are merely ourselves ? 

“How, then, are people to behave at home? If a man can’t be comfortable and unguarded, can’t take his ease and “be himself” in his own house, where can he? That is, I confess, the trouble. The answer is an alarming one. There is nowhere this side of heaven where one can safely lay the reins on the horse’s neck. It will never be lawful simply to “be ourselves” until “ourselves” have become sons of God….” 

C.S Lewis, God in the Dock

Like a nut

 But to be sovereign of the universe is no great matter to God. In Himself, at home in “the land of the Trinity,” he is Sovereign of a far greater realm. We must keep always before our eyes that vision of Lady Julian’s in which God carried in His hand a little object like a nut, and that nut was “all that is made.” (C.S Lewis, The Four Loves)

From the Web: notes and outlines of Mere Christianity

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I have a love-hate relationship with the Internet.

I hate it because of its ability to distract you when you’re supposed to be studying or cleaning the kitchen- I’ll blame that on my lack of discipline- and I love it when I run into the exact thing I was looking for. Mere Christianity is, in my humble opinion, one of the best apologetic books I know (reading back that sentence, that might sound as if I had read TONS of apologetic books, which is not the case, only a few, actually-but come on, let us be honest and admit that Mere Christianity is one massive monument combining abstract realities with beautiful illustrations, which makes reading it a pure delight, both for the thinker and the fiction addict).

However, everything in the book is so quotable and so relevant that I have a hard time summarizing the great lines of the book – Okay, I haven’t tried ^^ but I know it would be difficult.

Today, the Internet reedeemed itself by giving me a nice, complete yet concise outline of the book. If you haven’t read the book, and you are looking for a quick “summary”, may I suggest you to take a look at it ? And if you have read the book and, perhaps, you need a good basis to start building an apologetic plan, then it’s also good for you. Click here for the link- special thanks to Andrew Dósa from the C.S Lewis Society of California for writing it !

In the library; The Four Loves

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Two years ago, The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics landed in my mailbox and since C.S Lewis is my favorite author, I carry that book around with me everywhere. My little sister recently asked me what was this book I seemed to never have finished – It’s true, haven’t read all (yet), but every now and then I read one of two chapters of Mere Christianity or Miracles- I feel like one hour with Lewis is worth an outing- do yourself a favor and treat yourself with a copy of Mere Christianity or even better, the Classics !

However, the only disappointment with the said edition was that it did not include The Four Loves- I read only a few quotes of this book and since it’s apparently short, I could not wait to read it and decided to found a good, decent PDF on the Internet. Here is the link, and again, I was not disappointed– From the first pages, I knew I found another masterpiece from Mr.Narnia- hope you enjoy it.

From the web- brought to you by the C.S Lewis Institute

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That picture. My favorite author, writing, and probably drinking tea. I’d frame it.

Today, I came across a tweet, posted by the C.S Lewis institute, with a link to an article they posted in 2008, “Growing up Spiritually”. It was a huge encouragement since lately, my heart was heavy, as I am someone who tends to trust her feelings, and I was wondering why I could not sense the presence of God in my life. I thought I’d share it and I hope it will encourage you as well if you are currently feeling a bit down. I now love the Reflections page on that site !

Please note, if you are not familiar with C.S Lewis writings, that the Screwtape Letters are a satirical novel, taking the form of letters a demon, Screwtape, writes to a young demon, Wormwood. The paragraph in the text is an excerpt of The Screwtape Letters.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight”

(2 Corinthians 5:7)