I’m about seventy-five percent finished reading “Mere Christianity,” by C.S. Lewis, and I came across a chapter last night that spoke to me in my current state of mind. The crux of Lewis’ argument in this chapter is that faith must fly in the face of our ever changing moods and thoughts. We are fickle creatures, and over time our pride can rear its head, rendering our faith diminished. Faith in this sense, he says, is “the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”
I’ve mentioned here before that the catalyst for my change of heart was a crippling personal loss. I was at a low point in my life, and I was seeking refuge, and because my heart was raw and vulnerable and introspective I found it easy to accept something I had been reluctant to believe in the past. God and Christ offered exactly what I needed at the time: acceptance, unconditional love, peace, and hope. My “mood” at the time not only wanted to believe, but it needed to believe.
I also knew then that the “needing” would not last forever, and that there existed a chance that I might backslide into my old self. That is why I say that I must rededicate my thoughts and feelings to this purpose every day. I know that if I don’t spend time reading and thinking and praying about my relationship with God, that garden will grow wild into a state of disrepair. If I do not tend to the growth of Christ’s presence in my heart, the weeds of secular thought will overrun the garden, and blot out the sun that feeds me.
I’ve only been a true believer for five weeks. I’ve been a skeptic for 33 years. I know that if I am not careful, old habits will win out. The thing is, though, I much prefer the new version of myself, and I don’t want to go back to being that person. He was prideful and conceited and selfish, and I simply don’t want to be those things anymore.
Lewis continues: “The first step is to recognize the fact that your moods change. The next is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious reading and church going are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?”
I’ve spent my whole life drifting in uncertainly, swayed this way and that by the wind. For the first time I can remember, the direction that this journey has given me makes me feel as though I might be headed somewhere better. I’ve spent years struggling so hard with resisting pride and temptation that I didn’t even realize that I was failing. I feel as though I am finally awake, and though some aspects of that wakefulness hurt, I don’t want to forget it and drift back into my old self. Said another way, even though my wounds are healing to some degree, I don’t want to lose that compass bearing.
I want to continue this journey, and in order to do so, I have to push through my mood changes. I must hold my faith gently, and tend it carefully, as I would a fledgling baby bird.