The other day, and on so many days, Looking Up is the thing. Mired as we are in the muck it seems, buried in the smog and our circumstances, we need to see beyond the clouds.
It's funny and backward, and somewhat surprising then, that in Looking Up, we are driven back again to Looking Down, deep down into the depths of ourselves. It seems that the more we see of God, the more we see ourselves. And the braver we become. Looking up at Him, we get down to the business of looking honestly at who we really are
Sunday hit hard today and I was humbled. Reminded, yet again that if I want to grow, I must let Him show me the truth about myself. No excuses. No pat encouragements to help me brush it off and feel slightly less remorseful. But I am starting to see that I can stand the heat of the Light being shed on the ugliest parts of my soul to the degree that I trust the One who walks me through it. He cuts deep to bring me life, and I want real life. He reveals to bring repair, and I want to be whole.
In the wake of so many places that tell us we are trying hard enough, doing our best with what we have, I need to be called to something more. C.S. Lewis was, as always, clear and helpful.
We may, indeed, be sure that perfect [character or love or goodness of any kind] will not be attained by any merely human efforts. You must ask for God's help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important [courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue] may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God.
We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal things is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.
To grow, to really grow, the hands must open wide. No clenching of this attitude I have a right to, this resentment that is deserved, this jealousy disguised as criticism, this backbiting or bitterness or superiority, or laziness. All is open to the blazing gaze and glare of the Goodness of God, letting Him speak to places we are determined never to air out. Look up, Look up, and Look Down, Look Deep.