“That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.” -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
I first read that in college. My friend Jake was reading this book, which features key excerpts from nearly 100 classic devotional texts, and that Lewis quote was the very first. I remember scrambling to find a piece of paper, copying that paragraph word-for-word, and posting it next to my bed. Then Jake gave me my own copy of the book for Christmas (he’s always gifting me huge books like this, perhaps his way of encouraging me to be a bigger nerd), and immediately I re-read that excerpt, underlining and marking it up with squiggles and stars like Mardi Gras.
As I was laying in bed this morning, trying to reconcile myself to the reality that I was awake, yet again, before my alarm went off, before the sun had even found its place in the sky, and it was my choice how I would respond to this. I weighed the pros and cons of a) going back to sleep, b) finding and playing the song in my head which woke me up in the first place, c) starting the morning coffee and checking a few items off my to do list, or d) seeing this time as an opportunity to read, pray, listen to my heart and to God and hopefully learn and grow a bit. The plan of action was being formed, and I had moved through attempted sleep to reading and journaling, and was about to start the coffee when the Lewis quote came to mind.
The most striking phrase, for me right now, is the invitation to stand back from my natural fussings and frettings. Interestingly, that same phrase, at other times, has hit me like a book over the head – an admonition, a rule-for-life, yet another thing to add to the long list of things which I know I should be doing and yet do not. That’s not appealing to me. I might have read it, affirmed the wisdom of the phrase, and seen how it might be useful for me to act in such a way, but then I probably would have rejected it as too much for me to take on, what with all these other things on the list, and I might as well work through them in the same order which they were added, right?
But this morning, this year, as I’m more aware of all the ways that I fuss and fret and the ways they are holding me back, I finally see it as an invitation.