Faith · Literature

Lessons from the Life of C. S. Lewis (part 2)

Failure.

“Lewis is a failed poet who found greatness in other spheres of writing.”

McGrath, page 63

I can’t say that I have ever considered C. S. Lewis a failure. Oxford professor, published novelist, speaker, apologist. These all speak of success. Looking at Lewis’s early life, though, we see may failed endeavors and detours. Schools he was not accepted to, fellowships he did not win, relationships he missed, poetry that never received acclaim. The above quotation from Chapter 3 of McGrath’s biography reveals great insight into the nature of Lewis’s failures, though. Though Lewis did not accomplish his original goals, those failures lead him to greater success in other areas of his life. Most importantly, those failures brought him to a need for Christ and the conviction to share his faith with others.

After struggling to find his place in the academic world, and being rejected for several positions that he desires, C. S. Lewis ended up accepting a fellowship at Magdalen College. While this fellowship allowed Lewis to achieve one of his professional goals, I find it more interesting that this position placed Lewis to befriend J. R. R. Tolkien. Tolkien was instrumental in Lewis’s conversion to Christianity and in Lewis’s literary success. The failures of his early life situated him at the right time and place for this friendship to grow.

I fear failure. This is hardly a profound statement, because I think most of us fear failure. I am becoming more and more aware of how this fear dictates my decisions, though. I tell people I am introverted, which is mostly true, but mixed into that introverted nature is a severe fear of failing in front of people. Too often, this fear keeps me from experiencing life. I hesitate to go outside my comfort zone because I am not sure what failures or embarrassments are waiting outside my circle. I miss things because of this fear.

One of my goals is to be more fearless. Not stupid, mind you. I’m not talking about stupidity mislabeled as adventure. But, I want to be more willing to take risks. I want to be more willing to possibly fail. And when failure comes, I want to be able to intepret it within the grand scheme of God’s will and work in my life. I want learn from my mistakes, repent and turn from my sins, and improve areas of struggle. One imperfect step at a time.

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