I have this intense urge to go upstairs and hide in my sewing room. It’s a dreary day, following a series of dreary days, and my get up and go never got up with me this morning. I’ve been feeling this way since our discussion on crime and punishment at church yesterday. I’m bothered by how easy it is to agree that we don’t have the right to judge others, when we all are making judgments about others all of the time. Like so much in life, it is so much easier to express lofty ideas than to act on them. Truth be told, I’m not sure how we avoid being judgmental as it is an almost automatic response, given we are limited by our own experiences and perceptions.
I’ve been rereading C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, great escape literature for anyone with a whimsical frame of mind. There’s a short vignette in Prince Caspian that snags me every time I read it. The children are lost in a dense forest and only Lucy, the youngest one, sees a glimpse of Aslan, the great lion and Christ figure, who beckons her to follow him up and over a cliff. When she tells the others she saw Aslan they don’t believe her and put her down. Afraid to strike out on her own she follows them even when it doesn’t feel good to her. Consequently, they not only lose a lot of precious time, they come to a dead end and have to backtrack. Of course, stories being stories, Aslan eventually appears to all of the children and Narnia is saved, but not before many are hurt and other painful things happen.
Life could be so much easier for everyone, I suspect, if we learned to trust our gut instincts rather than giving in to our fears, or doing what’s expected or makes us more comfortable in the short run. Later when Lucy talks to Aslan, she wonders why might have happened if she’d followed him even if the others did not. Aslan’s responds with, “You can never know what might have been, my child. You can only learn what will be.”
It’s our fears of what might be, of wanting guarantees, wanting to conform that keep us trapped in dysfunctional patterns and behaviors . We’re afraid to let go of the familiar, of losing what little sense of control we might have, even when it is painful and does not achieve desired results. It’s so much easier to blame others than to assume responsibility for our own choices and actions. We want what we want without taking any risks or experiencing any negative consequences. The older I get, the more convinced I become that following Jesus has little to do with holding correct beliefs, but, like Lucy, following Him into the scary unknown…the Serenity Prayer’s “hardship is the pathway to peace.”