I woke up this morning with a scene from C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (the book, mind you, not the movie) running through my head. Mr. Tumnus curled up in a corner of his little home and sobbing, “I’m such a bad faun.” I’ve been feeling that way myself these past two days or so. All my faults and shortcomings are rearing their nasty heads, and every not-so-good thing I’ve done, word I’ve spoken/written, thought I’ve had plays itself out again in my mind and taunts me. These days are always humbling. In an odd way, though, I’m so grateful for these days. Because it’s only when I remember how much I’ve been given that I can really live gratitude.
We humans so easily assume that we can’t be loved. That we are not loved. And especially when my own faults continue to make themselves so drattedly apparent, what else am I to think? “I don’t suppose there ever was a worse faun since the beginning of the world,” sobbed Mr. Tumnus. And I find this thought streaming through my subconscious, over and over: Who could possibly love this? Funny how much faith it requires to accept the objective fact of God’s love: faith which gives a bedrock to our hope; hope which gives us the audacity to love.
His stomach does a little somersault when he sees me. As our old chaplain at school used to say all the time, “When he sees you, his eyes sparkle.”
I want to laugh and say, “No offense, Lord, but have you really taken a good, hard look?”
We don’t often think of his love like that, because we’re so sure it can’t be. It shouldn’t be. Let’s leave God’s immense love an abstract idea, one of those enormous, pervasive realities that’s so big it can’t come anywhere near us, like the concept of the universe, or even the size of the planet. Obviously it is that vast. But his love is also an infant lying on straw, a preteen boy listening and asking questions in the Temple, a man who happens to be a guest at your wedding.
So God loves me despite my failings. Even when I can accept that, though, I struggle to believe that other people can still love me in spite of my faults. I’m always half convinced that “once they know,” that’ll be the end. And while I know I can carry things to extremes, I also know we all deal with this to some level. It’s one of the loneliest and most terrifying things about the human condition…and it’s an especially poignant fear for the single person. At least those who are married, for instance, are vowed to deal with the other person’s faults. But sometimes as a single person, I feel like I’m living just one wrong move away from abandonment. “Oh – oh – you wouldn’t say that if you knew,” weeps Mr. Tumnus when Lucy tries to comfort him by calling him “the nicest faun” she’s ever met. Don’t we all feel that way sometimes? Don’t praise me, don’t be nice to me, don’t even bother loving me, because if you knew…
Yet how often have I, in my relatively short lifetime, seen the mercy of God displayed in the mercy of my fellow men? When my parents forgave me my childhood transgressions, when my siblings forgave me for being demanding, overbearing, and at times downright cruel, and now when friends constantly forgive me despite my biting tongue, my deep-rooted jealousies, my perfectionism, my passive-aggressive tendencies…
I have many, many faults, and still I am loved. I’m daily flabbergasted by it, and humbled. Because I don’t deserve it, and I can’t deserve it. I can only be so immensely grateful.