I recently reread the book “Surprised by Joy” by C.S. Lewis. I don’t usually reread books. Not my nature. But this book had such an impact on my soul that I found myself pulled back to it in recent days.
I’ve had difficulty writing lately. I’ve just not had any words. I miss writing, though. I hope to be able to return to it. It’s disconcerting to not be able to do something that you love to do so much.
To return to writing, I’m going to attempt a short series referencing different quotes from the book “Surprised by Joy”.
Have you ever been told to “Wipe that look off of your face?” What exactly does that mean? Usually it means that there is a look of contempt, or sheer hardness and defiance on your face. In your eyes. Our eyes reveal so much.
Before becoming a believer, this is a look I wore well. It was a part of who I was. Questioning everything, believing nothing. Shaped by the evil that is in this world. Defiant.
This is the look that has crept back across my face and into my eyes in the recent weeks, I am ashamed to say. Several weeks ago, the weight and responsibility of raising my crew alone–my four children–became inexorably heavy. And, even beyond that, even larger than that, there appeared to be no hope for the future. Even today, even tonight, hope remains elusive.
I share that not as an excuse for the return of “the look”, but rather as an explanation of how I came to be there, once again. And there were several other factors involved as well. They really aren’t important actually. What is important is that my naturally cynical soul took over my heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).
Why would anyone want to be cynical? Why would anyone want to return to cynicism after experiencing life without it? I don’t know. It’s pathetic, actually. But sometimes it’s just easy to be cynical. Sometimes it’s easier to have a hardened spirit, then to have a spirit that is real. That is in a relationship with God. I don’t know why this is. And now that I am mulling this over, maybe it is not this way for everyone, in fact, I know that it is not. How I wish I was like many, many people that I know and greatly admire, for whom cynicism seems to be not an issue.
My uncle Lewis—for that is how I refer to C.S. Lewis–speaks about this “look”. He, too, had the look. He writes this about “the look”:
Realism had been abandoned; the New Look was somewhat damaged; and chronological snobbery was seriously shaken…..I was off once more into the land of longing, my heart at once broken and exalted as it had never been since the old days at Bookham. There was nothing whatever to do about it; no question of returning to the desert. I had simply been ordered — or, rather, compelled–to “take that look off my face.” And never to resume it either.
I can not say that my heart–my soul–is at once broken and exalted. I wish that it were. I wish that it were anything. But I can say that to remain with this “look on my face” is also not an option. I’m not sure how to remove it, other than to begin to push forward once again. To return to study and prayer. I am stirred–ordered–or, rather, compelled–to “take that look off my face.” I can only assume that this discipline, or chastisement, is from God. And well-deserved.