Hellish or Heavenly?

Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different than what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature. -C.S. Lewis

A friend of mine shared this quote with me a short time ago.  I had to ponder it a bit.  In some respects, I find it extraordinarily true.  In other respects, a little too black and white, a little too simplistic.  But mostly true.

I don’t necessarily know about the heavenly vs hellish dichotomy, but I absolutely, 100%’ly believe that our choices help form us, closing off some pathways that might have been present before.  Opportunity cost, I think I recall learning in high school accounting or freshman college economics.  The notion that there is a cost to choosing one thing over another, and that some choices close off other possibilities, maybe temporarily, maybe permanently.  Of course circumstances beyond our control can have these effects, too, but the important thing to take away from the pondering of this quote, I think, is that we have some degree of self-determination in forming that central thing inside us, for better or worse.  We have that responsibility and that power.

How am I choosing this day?

These Days?

Heavenly, hellish, or some delightful intoxicating combo of saved and sinner?  Hmm.

I’ve curtailed my church involvement quite a bit from say, the past 2-3 years ago.  Part of it was God-led for a sabbath season of sorts from that particular type of ministry involvement.  (Heavenly, you might say, and saying so with purity of heart, not a twinge of irony or sarcasm.  Really, prayed over that decision, and it felt “right.”)  Part of it was self-protective, and not just the innocent and beneficial stewardship of one’s time and energy.  Nope, the unvarnished truth was some of it was defensive and walling myself away from hurt, whether actual or imagined…the heart doesn’t necessarily care sometimes about factuality and objective reality.   (Hellish  <sigh>)  One ought to try though, I think, to be open to love and possibility and keep our walls to a minimum to live life to its fullest.  Hmm.

I don’t feel the same naivete and optimism I once felt about the Church, and even life in general the way I used to.  That’s disappointing to me, because I’ve always felt myself to be an optimist.  I’m not sure I like that change to my central thing…it feels like a shift is happening.  I think I should watch my choices a little more closely and with a sense of detached wonder and interest so I don’t find myself getting sucked into automatic reflexive decisions, instead of thoughtful choices.

How am I spending my opportunity costs now?  I’m “wasting time” (in a certain sense!) and “playing” in an adult sense that works for me.  Hellish or heavenly?  Time will tell, but I happen to think more the latter than the former.

I’m playing video games.   Yeah, video games!

I recently accepted an invitation from my elementary aged daughter to be part of a three-generation girl sleepover.  Yup, my daughter, myself, and my mom all slept in the living room after making truffles, other snacks, and playing on the Wii.

I got Dance Dance Revolution to play and exercise. (it really is fun!!!)

I’m taking piano lessons.  Yeah, me!  I had a few when I was younger, so I’m not a complete beginner, and I was a pretty good trombonist in high school, but I LOVE the piano.  It’s the kind of thing I can lose track of time while I’m at it. (in a good and holy way.)  Oh, is this ever FUN!!!  I’ve missed music and the tugs it makes on my soul…  It feels good and right to be back at it.

This playfulness and wasting time is heavenly and hellish at differing times.  And it’s changing my inner self.  My central “thing.”

I believe God’s going to use it for good, who knows how.  Let’s see how the next leg of this ol’ journey goes?  ;)


4 Responses to Hellish or Heavenly?

  1. Peter says:

    Just a quick note to say thanks for you Compline services. I’m sure they were a ton of work! God bless your ministry where you are now. My wife loves dance dance too! Peter

  2. I’m sometimes, maybe even always, disappointed when I hear someone has decided to take a vacation from the church/my words, not yours/ and at the same time I think evaluating one’s church life is critical to the evaluation of one’s total life in general. An assignment from the sermon this past Sunday in my church was to evaluate what one’s personal mission in life is in relation to religion/spirituality/God and in a similar way evaluate if that’s where the church you attend is leading. If they’re not the same one might consider getting down to business and figure out where the discrepancy is…..AND I didn’t plan this comment to be all about church……..but how much I agree with you about how choices lead us/make us who we are and that intentional choices like adding more play to one’s life can absolutely create a heaven we might not have expected. How absolutely marvelous it is that you’re playing, the sleepover sounds delish – what a treat, and the piano playing? – go, go, go for it. This past year I purchased a handmade Native American Flute because I heard one playing at a weekend retreat I attended and just fell in love with it. Now do I spend days with dulcet tones coming from my own amazing efforts – not exactly! But I do feel a spirit of adventure and connectedness to my own musical past and to that of musical history’s ancestry. So play on and I wouldn’t be surprised at all that in the meantime while you’re taking a break from church, and making considered choices for your life’s activities, a whole new part of your spirituality breaks wide open. Thanks for sharing your experiences here.

    • karla says:

      Welcome, Sunrise Sister! How nice to make your acquaintance.

      We had the same message preached from our priest last Sunday. Convicting, eh?

      Ya know, there are those who tell me I have sort of a warped notion of what “taking a vacation from church” is. (ha ha! Even though I didn’t use those words this time, I have in the past!) Your comment on the Chittister book I’m reading reminded me of a new ministry I’ve embarked upon. My area is starting a Community of Hope center, and I’m going to be one of the class co-facilitators.
      I feel **most** underqualified as a bona fide lay pastoral caregiver, but I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to listen and co-engage with other seekers/learners in this type of environment!! I took the class several years ago while I was still in the discernment process, and it’s really awesome. I can’t wait!

      It occurs to me though that I haven’t bathed it in the sort of prayer that it is deserving of. I sort of fell into the position, knew I’d enjoy listening to the talks, and pretty confident I could “emcee” the flow of a class with a co-facilitator. So, yeah. Prayers would be a good thing. yeah…

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