Letters to Jesus (Contrary Spiritual Notions) - 22
The girl, Susan, (a kind of everywoman) in C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, says at one point to Aslan, the lion, (a kind of Christ figure): “I am sorry. That’s just the way I am.” It makes me consider what’s behind such words uttered by anyone. First, it’s an apology – an attempt at reconciliation for a recognized defect. Second, it’s a justification – an attempt to clarify an unavoidable fact. And thirdly, it is a license to remain the same.
I imagine that I say this to You quite frequently; if not in actual words then by my actions and demeanor. It’s a handy tool for rationalization. In uttering it I excuse myself and direct it to You as well – like I was telling You something You didn’t already know. In those times when I am down on myself, when I think I am hopeless and just spinning my wheels, when I can’t imagine that You could have any more patience withme, or when I just can’t fathom how You could love ME, it’s time to shrug my shoulders and say, “Sorry, that’s just the way I am.”
Now the wonderful part of this, which I fail with any regularity to comprehend,is that You already know that that’s the way I am and You still love and pursue me. I can stop using it as an excuse because it is no excuse. You know I would be different if I could be. No apology necessary – especially if I’m trying to do better. It does not now nor will it ever justify me. Only You can do that. Nor is it a license to remain the same. There is a correlation between Your pursuit of me and my growth – if I am open to it. You, and only You, can overcome ME.
At the same time, it does not negate the fact that I am a free will agent. I can choose to ignore You. Susan’s good intentions notwithstanding, I can still push You aside and say, “Sorry, that’s just the way I am.” The fact that God takes this into consideration is historically evident. The chronicles of mankind are replete with second chances. To write myself off with, “Sorry, that’s just the way I am,” precludes my openness to second chances – to the possibility of Your grace doing things in me that I could not imagine.