Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Sacrifice of Safety

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

I have the words "He's not a tame lion" stamped into a bracelet  I often wear. I adore words--these words, especially--and I wanted them near me at all times.

Mr. Lewis is one of my heroes--he has written stories that have clung to me since childhood. I don't think they'll ever let go, and I'm quite content holding their hands until my dying breath. It's a rare book that grows with you, a book that you enjoy at five--curled up next to your dad as he reads it aloud before bed--and again at twenty-five. I've gone through the Narnia series three times (it's time for a reread) and Til We Have Faces four. Each time, I take away something else, some deeper meaning, some new lesson that pulls at my heart. Sometimes, it makes me cry, and that, my friends, is a medal of accomplishment very, VERY few things earn.

So, when I decided it was time for something new, I ordered the bracelet, thrilled to see those words, "He's not a tame lion" embedded in the leather. Every Lewis fan loves the quote, loves it because it's true. 
"'Course, he isn't safe. But he's good." 

I used to wear those words because it reminded me that life was an unpredictable adventure.
You see, up until recently, my life had been very well planned. Oh, sure, there were things that didn't work out the way I had hoped--I'd still love, one day, to live overseas long term . . . and, you know, be a mermaid . . . --but, for the most part, things fell into place.

And then they didn't. 

And you know what? That's okay.
In fact, it might even be "good."

It doesn't always feel that way--sometimes, it feels very much the opposite. There are dark days and dark feelings, there are hurts and tears, but, in the end, there's something new.

Sometimes, you realize that there truly is something BIGGER than you at work. That the hard things HAVE to happen to grow you. If I run away from everything dirty and pinching and unpleasant, how do I grow? How do I become stronger, wiser, and gentler if  I'm not challenged?
To turn any lump of element into Art, it has to be chiseled, heated, and molded. Pieces are taken away and new bits added.  They are stripped away until they are almost unrecognizable.
Of course, they are still THEMSELVES. You can't take ivory and turn it to glass or transform clay into gold. They are always themselves, deep down. The raw element has simply been refined into something beautiful. It has reached its full potential. 

The pain is not the end.  The marks may remain, but we only pray that it's for the better. It has to be.

I know a woman who let pain grip her for far too long. She remains engulfed in her own victimization and chose to shut out and wound those who truly love her.  She locked away all hopes of happiness because she wallows in her miseries. She created a realm of glass expectations--if anyone inches out of line, her world shatters. So she takes out her little black book, makes a note in bold, bleeding red letters, and sees only imaginary flaws and her own pain. The world and those in it are stripped of their loveliness.   To earn back her favor is impossible. . Then she sits alone in her home and scoffs that no one comes to her door. She doesn't understand that she's chased them all away. 

I feel the pain, and I see two roads:
  • I can feel it, I can hold it, understand it, weep with it, and then release it to Someone so much kinder, wiser, and greater than I. Then, it's not only mine, and He can open my eyes to beauties I never knew. Some things can only be seen through the lens of pain.
  • Or I can wallow and make ticks in my little black book, close all the doors and lock away my heart because, oh, it hurts so much.
"He's not a tame lion."

I used to wear the words to remind me that there is an unpredictable "adventure in the great wide somewhere."
Now, I wear it because there is pain, but that is not the end.

"‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good."

There is pain.
And there is Goodness.
There is something bigger, brighter, and greater than I can ever imagine.
And sometimes, it hurts. Sometimes, it tears you open, bleeding and weeping. Then you heal. Very likely, there will be pain again, perhaps from the same wound, perhaps something else entirely. Torn apart and sewn back together. Again and again.
We wear our scars. 


Our world has changed, and our hearts are beating with a new rhythm. Our pride crumbles piece by piece. We love deeply, despite the risk, despite the agony.


I am not safe. I may never be. To be safe you lock yourself and your feelings away. It's small, and it's dark, and it's lonely. But it's safe.

I don't want a life that is SAFE.
I want a life that is GOOD. 

And isn't that worth the price of pain?


  1. For some reason this post reminds me of a quote I wrote in my quote book:

    "The only place outside heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers…of love is hell."
    ~ C.S. Lewis in THE FOUR LOVES

    Thanks for sharing. <3

  2. I love this post, Sarah. It is 100% worth the price of pain. I also don't want to live any kind of safe life, but I do want to look back and say that it was a good life lived. I've always loved the "not a tame lion" picture of Aslan. And I'm pretty sure I've cried every single time I've finished "The Last Battle"


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