A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature. (p. 92).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Does this quote amount to anything more than “our choices add up”? If that is all that Lewis is saying, then it’s a poetic duh-statement. But I believe Lewis is saying more than bad choices add up to a bad life.
Our choices reveal where we are preparing to live. But his preparation is less overt than we would like to think. When we enjoy something we are (in effect) declaring it “heavenly.” If the thing we enjoy (as we enjoy) resembles something heavenly, our soul is slowly transforming into a character than could enjoy heaven.
However, if the thing we enjoy (or the way we enjoy it) does not resemble heaven, then we have created a counterfeit heaven. There is only one name for such a place – Hell. If our soul is having its tastes shaped to enjoy a counterfeit heaven, then our inner person is becoming more suited for Hell than heaven. At the end of our days, God would merely be giving us what we wanted all our lives.
We don’t think of day-to-day choices this way. We might think of a choice to have an affair, dismantle our children’s world, and leave the church this way. Or, we might think of a choice to use hard drugs, waste our life savings, and become physically-financially dependant that way. But that is only when we face these choices hypothetically or see them played out in the life of others.
If we truly were making these choices, we would be convinced of their happiness, necessity, or our ability to make these choices while remaining “the same person.” We would view ourselves as being in control – the opposite of changing. It would only be the reactionary and judgmental people around us who changed.
As we read this, we should be afraid. It makes me uncomfortable to write it. The pattern has been played out in too many lives for us to be the exception. Yet it does not take a “big” life-changing sin to have this influence.
If Lewis is correct, every choice is slowly turning the central part of our soul towards Heaven or Hell. Our life is lived on such a grand stage every day that we have grown immune to the importance of what we relate to as “mundane.” We are worse than the athlete who grows bored with playing in front of tens of thousands of cheering fans while making millions of dollars.
The point of this reflection is not to paralyze us in fear, but to wake us up to reality. Nothing that has been said makes reality more real. More than that, God is for us. God is not waiting to catch us in a mistake. He wants to be known and for us to enjoy knowing Him.
The goal is to disrupt the malaise of boredom that comes when we think our daily choices don’t matter. Simple choices made to love God and love others matter immensely. They are what God uses to change the world and to change us. Realizing this, let us give ourselves fully to the full breadth of choices we will make today (significant and, seemingly, insignificant).