Interruptions and C.S. Lewis


I do love C.S. Lewis. In fact, I enjoy his writing so much that at some point I apparently started following him on Twitter, receiving quotes from him every day. This is a pretty good trick, since he died in 1963. But, there’s his name, right on the screen, and who am I to argue with the Internet?

Anyway, he occasionally nails me, and this happened recently, and on a Monday, no less. Here is the quote that appeared on my Twitter screen that morning:

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.” – from The Collected Works of C.S. Lewis

Thanks, Jack.

Is my real life the one that is carefully outlined on my calendar in 1/2 hour intervals from 7 am to 9 pm? Does my real life live on my To Do list? Is my real life the one that I think I control?

Or is my real life in the pauses to really see the world around me, in the phone call from someone who needs a listening ear and a prayer? Is my real life in the messy stuff that absolutely refuses to fit in the little boxes on the calendar and messes up those tidy little lines on the To Do list?

This year during Lent, my church read through the gospel of Mark, full of accounts of Jesus ministry. It strikes me that it is also full of accounts of constant interruptions in the life of someone who could legitimately control the whole universe if he chose. He didn’t ever have to stop what he was doing to heal a desperately sick person, cast out a demon, or explain (again) his teaching to his disciples. They woke him when he was sleeping, tugged on his clothes as he walked by, dropped people through the roof when he went indoors. Constant interruptions.

At each interruption, Jesus didn’t respond to the interruption. He responded to the person. That’s my problem. I respond to the interruption more than the person, at least sometimes. My thoughts are more along the line of “What? I’m trying to get things done here,” or “Could you wait a few minutes?” than they are, “How can I help? Tell me your story. Let’s pray.”

It also makes me wonder about the things that are “penciled in” on that calendar and To-Do list. Things that I might not consider interruptions, but often view as optional pauses that I will take if I have time. Time to pray. Time to read. Time to go outside and soak up sunshine. I treat them more like interruptions than holy moments. I wonder why?  These things enrich my days and my life. They make the To Do list work better, and definitely make me a much more balanced person.

The question, Mr. Lewis says, is “What is my real life? Where do I find it? What does it look like? And what is all that other stuff?” These are the questions I’m pursuing these days. And, as usual, C. S. Lewis is both right and challenging.



4 thoughts on “Interruptions and C.S. Lewis

  1. This was the best interruption of my To Do list all day! Thanks for being right and challenging in your message, Jen. So glad we don’t get a curt, “What do you want now?” when we pray. Seems we are meant to aim for that patience with each other, even if we don’t always hit the mark.

  2. Thanks for the thought-provoking reminder. I have a huge gap between my intellectual understanding of this and my feet-of-clay lack of changing my behavior in response to that understanding! I love C.S. Lewis. But when he makes me feel inadequate, I think “hey he didn’t have kids…what does he. Know about interruptions?” I know, well…pray for me!

  3. Nancy Krause

    Thank you so much. So needed your perspective/interpretation of interruptions. I need to focus on the person. Keep going strong.

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