Before my last semester of classes here at college, I had two open slots to take whatever I wanted, since I only needed three required classes but needed a total of 15 credits to graduate in a timely manner. I was tempted to take another art class, I’ll admit, but I chose to take Women’s Literature with one of my favorite professors (because it will be my last class with her… Getting sentimental here…) and a class I’ve wanted to take for a while, that’s only offered in Spring semester here: A class entirely on the works of C.S.Lewis.
Sounds like fun, huh? Well, it’s not exactly Chronicles of Narnia.
No, this class challenges you to think more deeply about your faith, and about what it means to truly love and be human. If you’ve seen part of my IG story on V Day, you’ll know how it’s impacted me JUST with The Four Loves. God’s been convicting and challenging me so much in this class, and I love it. He’s challenging me to give up some idolatrous things, or at least not make them idols/obsessions any more (as stated in an earlier post– this is one way I KNOW God’s trying to get my attention about SOMETHING, because He will VERY consistently put things in my life that all somehow have the same, very consistent message). He knows those things aren’t healthy for me, especially emotionally, and spiritually; He’s challenging me to beware of making pleasures gods, because, according to Lewis, they can very easily become demonic. O.O God’s also teaching me the different kinds of loves, not just romantic (eros, which, contrary to popular belief, does NOT have a specialty in the physical; it focuses on the loving the BELOVED, not their BODY– HUGE difference) and Agape, but philia (friendship), storge (affection), and charity, along with the differences between Gift-Love, Need-Love, Appreciative-Love (the last is the most selfless; you love someone or something just because, which is the attitude, along with charity, that we SHOULD have towards God and others), along with Need-Pleasures. Some friendships and even relationships, sadly, can be based off of Need-Pleasure; as soon as you no longer get pleasure from it, you toss that person aside– sad, but it can happen. It does happen. Lewis also talks about the power of love in true friendships; authority can actually be TERRIFIED of this love, because, if you think about it, some of the most powerful and influential groups in the world started off as just that– people who cared for each other, who shared common ideals and interests, whether good or bad, bonded together, and often changed the world. I think that it’s fascinating, in that sense. (And, also, yes– in a dangerous one, too. Depending on the group.)
(All this makes me wonder what Lewis would’ve had to say on Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages.)
Lately, I’ve been thinking loving God properly. The book talks about how the Natural Loves can eventually be refined into Divine Gift-Love and charity by grace; about how God is literally a Heavenly HOST Who creates His OWN parasites (us), because we literally feed off His Love. We need His love, we can’t live without it, but God can’t make us WANT to love Him in return. There’s a reason He didn’t make us robots, with no free will. Even though we can’t use the regular kind of Gift-Love to return His Love, and even the tiniest fraction of the Love He shows us, we CAN give Him the Love of our free will, and freely love Him in return.
This reminds me of… Actually, can I make a confession, first?
Some of you already know this, but I have Asperger’s. Most can’t tell, because I’ve been through therapy after therapy, gone through literally countless sessions and therapists, to try to reprogram my whole danged thought process and seem “normal.” I got fed up with it pretty quickly, namely because A., I didn’t like being treated like an experimental social monkey in a lab while they poked and prodded me to get me to do whatever they wanted (yes, I resisted; I was one of the few brave rebels of my Aspie generation– I have lived to tell the tale), and B., many, though not all, of my therapists simply treated me as part of their job, albeit with sugary sweetness, not as an actual human being who deserves dignity and respect (which I had and still have a major problem with).
Enter my one, and last, TSS, whom for privacy’s sake, I shall call “J.”
“J” was different from most of my therapists. Not having many friends due to public high school, and generally just being an overall social outcast, she and I soon bonded over fandoms, over silliness, over her just, well, treating me as a person. I mean, yeah, we talked about therapy stuff, but we also celebrated her birthday together (with a brownie cake). Invited her just to hang and chill. We could snark together like nobody’s business; she helped bring the sass out in me, the mentor out in me (which would reflect on several friendships with young ladies that I would have in the future). If I was happy about something, she was the first one I would want to tell about it. The FIRST. We did crafts together, went to Harry Potter movies together (after I got her hooked on the series), and I would tease her relentlessly about her stuffed bear that she’d had since her childhood, “Mr. Cuddles.” (The name alone would make me fall into fits of hysterics, given the right time and my mood.) She was more than a bestie or a TSS; she was like my older sister.
Then, tragedy struck.
“J” was faced with a proposition: She could let go, be free, go do whatever job she wanted, aside from being my TSS. In my moody early teens, I was shell-shocked. I thought she’d always want to be friends in, well, our way. But I decided I did not want to tie her down, I did not wish to hinder her. Forcing her to stay, though it was an option, was not friendship, if she did not want the actual job. And so I did the bravest, most selfless thing I could do, even though my inner Aspie was screaming at me to cling tighter than a tree-hugger: I let her go.
What hurt was that it seemed “J” would make no attempt to connect, to contact me, after I did it. It felt all for naught, and I questioned if our friendship had ever been real. Combined with having no friends, losing my beloved dog, Sonny, and transitioning from public school (social outcast) to homeschool (no friends, at the time) caused me to become seriously depressed. Fortunately, that wasn’t the end of my story (although it almost was…); I met several wonderful friends through homeschooling and even Taekwondo who loved me for me, and helped support me. I realized I had been far too dependent on “J,” and that I needed to reach out to other friends, to God, for more support. What was wrong, though, was that at the time I blamed “J” for it all, because I was deeply hurt and struggled to let go; I now understand her doing what she did, to a certain degree. I am now the age she was when we first met (she was 22, I was 12 at the time), and with college I am usually far too busy to contact people, although I wouldn’t put off contacting most people for months at a stretch, usually (I mean, I AM only ONE person…). These past two weeks alone have been just INSANELY busy (as in, I literally cannot get on social media AT ALL, or my academics will severely suffer for it), so I just have to hope and pray that most don’t take it personally, if I don’t contact them for a while. But it does hurt, to be on either side of the fence. Because I know; I know what it’s like to feel ignored like that. Believe me when I say that.
I also think God put that situation in my life because He wanted me to taste a pinch of how HE feels; when we first start off growing close together with Him, and doing our best to get to know Him, things are usually going great. But the farther we drift apart, the more we hurt Him, the more He longs for contact with us, but no, He doesn’t want to force it on us. We have to come back to Him, and love Him freely, lovingly. Just as I gave “J” the freedom of choice to stay or go (or even to stay in contact or not), God gives us the choice whether or not to stay. Whether or not to return His Love, and learn to Love Him properly, as well as learning all about Him in general, and everything He’s done for us.
So, allow me to ask you…
Will you stay? Or will you go?
(No, that was not a song reference.)