I didn't realize she was following the blog, (or even had the internet,) this young mom from a culture I've only begun to understand. "Well, I didn't really see The Snake yet, just the skin."
"I see one every year," she told me. "The little ones are okay...well, I don't like them, but the big ones. (shiver.) I saw one when I was picking the beans." She motioned with her hand to show me how it slithered away.
"At least it was going away from you," I observed.
"At least Bennie was home," she countered. "We killed it."
Which I took to mean he killed it because she clearly was moving in a direction opposite the snake!
It seems everyone has a snake story.
Yes, we do,because
every one of us has a snake.
In a recent email from C.S. Lewis Daily, I thought Lewis' comments on temptation were totally relevant to the previous blog post about The Snake. Here are a few excerpts from The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume 111, compiled in Yours, Jack. (You can check out the Bible Gateway site for yourself.)
In this excerpt from a letter dated 13 October 1961, Lewis commented:
Of course I have had and still have plenty of temptations. Frequent and regular prayer, and frequent and regular Communions, are a great help, whether they feel at the time as if they were doing you good or whether they don’t. I also found great help in monthly confession to a wise old clergyman.
As for confesssion to a wise older clergyman...I have to tweak this one a bit since I'm married to a clergyman who might be considered wise and/or old in certain circles. (And right here he would be commenting that he is younger than I am...by 7 months.)
However, I have a friend who fills this spot nicely in my life, although if she reads this and realizes I'm referring to her, she is probably at this very moment snorting coffee through her nose, which is only one of the myriad things I love about her. She is not a clergyperson per say, but she is wise and she is old(er than me) and she listens better than anyone else I know, which is to say she doesn't judge me, but she doesn't let me off the hook either; so when I need someone to check up on me, she does it.
I am sometimes this person for her as well, although I am also not a clergyperson, and while some days I'm not sure how wise I am, I do fill the "old" category nicely, (just not older than her.)
I tend to fall off the line of truth to one side or the other regularly,
alternately condemning myself in the strongest terms or
explaining away the seriousness of my sin with a thin veneer of excuse or rationalization.
How much better to just call a savory a savory... or perhaps in the case of sin, unsavory.
Of course there are other helps which are more commonsense. We must learn by experience to avoid ...trains of thought or social situations which for us (not necessarily for everyone) lead to temptations.
Like motoring--don’t wait till the last moment before you put on the brakes but put them on, gently and quietly, while the danger is still a good way off.
This is why I am being more mindful of what is going on in my head when I'm moving through my day. If I don't want a train wreck in my life's journey, I need to reflect on my choices enroute.
I've come to realize that my brain can be moving a hundred miles an hour (in the wrong direction?!) while my body is practically immobile...say, weeding the garden or working in the kitchen, and I am the only one who can put on the brakes.
Praying for someone else has become a helpful tool for me in redirecting my thoughts. I keep a short mental list of people who are in particular need of prayer in any given day/week. (I think of them as my "stat" prayer list.)
-a friend dealing with an adult child in active addiction;
a young family relocating across the world on Kingdom business;
a sweet young friend hitting the bumps of adolescence,
my friend taking yet another broken child to trauma therapy
the widow stirring a fresh batch of grief filled tear soup...
The list goes on, and I might pray aloud if no one else is in house. As the moments pass, I am putting on the brakes gently and quietly, while the danger is still a good way off.
I'm wondering how you deal with the dangers of The Snake in your garden.
How do you apply the brakes in your head when you're on a long downhill stretch?
Do you have a strategy you'd be willing to share with the rest of us?
I'd love to hear your tips for avoiding The Snake.
Hmmm...I hope my wise old clergyperson is available for lunch this week. If she is still speaking to me...