You are Not Alone Tonight

With a sigh of relief, I whispered, “Thank you, for choosing to live.” I looked at the word document on my computer screen and felt a renewed sense of God’s presence. I sat in awe of God’s unconditional love for me.

Repost: I posted this blog nearly 3 years ago, but the last few weeks reminded me of the significance of the decision I made to live 46 years ago. Suicide is epidemic across the globe and reflects the hopelessness felt by so many. I wanted to share this part of my journey again today with the hope that it will help someone choose to live.

With a sigh of relief, I whispered, “Thank you, for choosing to live.” I looked at the word document on my computer screen and felt a renewed sense of God’s presence. I sat in awe of God’s unconditional love for me. I had forgotten the significance of divine intervention in my life. I realized that after years of healing, studying and recounting the details of my journey, I was spiritually complacent. The complacency crept in while I moved on with my life.  I spent years sorting through memories and putting together the enormous puzzle of my life. I created a program that blended faith and reason to navigate the psychological and spiritual aspects of healing, but tonight I rediscovered God’s touch.

I felt the power of His presence in my life that I have not experienced in a long time.

Tonight, as I completed the chapter in my memoir about one of the darkest, yet most significant moments in my adult life, I decided to write a letter to the young woman who decided to live. At age 22, I believed that God hated me because I couldn’t stop acting out sexually. The chapter details the events of that night, but my experience after recounting them is the subject of this post. I think I finally understand my 22-year-old self and the significance of God’s intervention. I wanted to thank my younger self for the choice she made after God stepped in.

I still had a choice even after my pastor prayed over me.

Perhaps, you have faced despair and considered taking your life or you know someone who faces that choice. I share the letter I wrote to my younger self in this post to share the new insight I gained from traveling back to the night I chose life. God did not beat me over the head with a burning bush experience, instead, he sent a messenger in the form of my pastor. My pastor did not know I was on the verge of suicide and I never told him. His purpose that night was to give me hope. I think sometimes a simple message of “I am here. You are not alone, tonight,” might be the key to saving a life.

I am thankful that my pastor listened to the prompting to call me that night.

The letter below reflects what I want to tell my 22-year-old self as I close another painful chapter in my life with renewed hope and faith in the power of divine intervention.

You are Not Alone Tonight, Charlie

Hello Beautiful,

You are beautiful, Charlie. You are more beautiful than you realize. Tonight, I agonized with you and felt the despair and hopelessness of a young woman who desperately searched for love. I cried with you as you pleaded with God to set you free. My heart broke tonight when you lost all hope and wanted to end your life. You don’t understand yet why God intervened tonight, but you will. You don’t know for sure that the love you feel from God right now will last, but you will. You wonder if you will ever be free from the torment of the emptiness in your soul, but you will.

You felt beautiful tonight for the first time in a long time. You felt God’s touch, and you remembered it from when you were a little girl. Although you don’t remember the details of the times Jesus held you in His arms, tonight you remembered how safe you felt. Those feelings are real memories. One day you will know all the times Jesus kept you from losing your soul. You are not evil. You are beautiful.

Tonight, I want you to rest and know that all is not lost. Tomorrow is a new day, Charlie. Sleep well and know that you are not alone tonight.

Love,

The Charlotte that you will become because you chose to live tonight.

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What Kind of Love is This? Finding God in the Darkness is a story of hope, a story of determination and redemption in the face of unspeakable abuse and despair. Survivors deserve to experience hope and contentment as they navigate the triggers, fears and doubts that fill our days.

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ENDS 3/20/22!

Trauma, Addiction, and Recovery

MARK YOUR CALENDAR! Ep. 3- airs on Saturday March 12, 2022 at 11:00 AM CST! In this episode, my guest, Cheryl R. Luke, and I will discuss: How trauma places survivors at high risk for developing addictive behaviors. Hope that is found in programs like Celebrate Recovery Personal insights from our experiences

Chatting with Charlotte-LIVE

MARK YOUR CALENDAR! Ep. 3- airs on Saturday March 12, 2022 at 11:00 AM CST! In this episode, my guest, Cheryl R. Luke, and I will discuss: How trauma places survivors at high risk for developing addictive behaviors. Hope that is found in programs like Celebrate Recovery Personal insights from our experiences

About my guest: Cheryl Luke currently serves as the National Director of Cultural Communities for Celebrate Recovery. She has been in ministry for over 30 years and has a wealth of knowledge and experience about the affect of trauma on all aspects of a survivor’s life. She is one of my dearest and nearest friends whom I’ve known for two decades. Cheryl’s passion is helping individuals discover and reach their God given potential. She is a frequent guest speaker at events across the globe at Women’s conferences, retreats and workshops. Her smile and her love for the Lord is contagious as she draws her audience in with her unique speaking style that sometimes includes an unexpected song that fits a specific audience. Cheryl engages her audience in such a way that you feel like you’re in her living room listening to a friend share their passion and experience. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to hear her story, her insights, and her wisdom about trauma, addiction, and recovery! #celebraterecovery #mentalhealth #addiction #recovery #PTSD #survivingchildhoodtrauma

Not a God of Immediate Gratification

David’s words are a great reminder to us that God is not a God of immediate gratification. The Lord expects us to wait on His timing. He expects us to trust Him and “wait all the day long” for His guidance while trusting Him to meet us at our point of need. We cannot rush God, but we can rush ahead of Him. When we do, the result is often disastrous.

Lead me in your truth

and teach me, for you are

the God of my salvation;

for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25:5

Surrender and Devotion

Note: In the 7 months since I posted this blog, I’ve experienced many victories, had expectations shattered, dreams fulfilled, and attempted things I never dreamed I could do. Sometimes I grew impatient because God was not acting “fast enough” for my liking. Yet, He always made a way for His plan to come to fruition.

Now, I find myself at another crossroads as I contemplate the path forward. As I considered what to share this week, this blog brought me comfort and reminded me to be patient, wait for the Lord to move, and to be still and listen for His whisper.

Surrender and devotion dominate David’s writing. Throughout the Psalms, he lays his life before the Lord and says, “teach me.” He knows his limits and desires to learn from the Lord. He basically says, “Lord, I can’t do this without you. I need you to guide me and help me know the truth.” However, he does not demand an immediate response from God. Instead, he says, “I’ll wait for you all day.” He makes his plea, then waits.

David’s words are a great reminder to us that God is not a God of immediate gratification. The Lord expects us to wait on His timing. He expects us to trust Him and “wait all the day long” for His guidance while trusting Him to meet us at our point of need. We cannot rush God, but we can rush ahead of Him. When we do, the result is often disastrous.

Moving too Fast

During the early years of healing from childhood trauma, I didn’t wait on God to teach me or lead me, and it almost destroyed me. I rushed to remember everything as quickly as I could and I set unrealistic goals for completing the healing process. The result- a year in a psychiatric day program. I could not work, nor was I emotionally available for my daughter. I pushed my mind beyond the brink and feared I would never return to normal life. Still, God did not abandon me. He waited for me, guided me and helped me recover my sanity.

Listen, Rest, and Learn

As you or a loved one progresses on their healing journey, remember to pace yourself. Listen to God’s whisper, listen to those that care for you, breathe, rest, and wait. Healing is a journey, not a destination.

Painting Pictures of Egypt

leaving the security of familiar coping mechanisms is terrifying. Especially when nothing seems to ease the fear and pain like what I knew. When the “new life” became difficult or not what I expected, I wanted to return to the comfortable. I wanted what was comfortable even though it was dangerous and painful.

NOTE: This was originally posted in 2019.  I’m posting it again because I was recently reminded  how difficult moving forward can be. When an unexpected trauma occurs, it is easy to revert to old habits and thoughts. We want to grab hold of what we know or the first thing we see. The problem is we what held us up in the past doesn’t work anymore. Most recently, I’ve struggled to understand several disruptions in my life that seemingly blocked what I thought God wanted me to do. Although I was briefly tempted to reach for old, unhealthy coping mechanisms, I resisted the temptation because I recalled the song I write about in this blog. When you are tempted to hold on to what brought relief in the past, remember you are most likely, “painting pictures of Egypt and leaving out what it lacked.”

As I reflect on my healing from childhood abuse and my recovery from sexual and food addiction, I am reminded of a song by Sara Groves entitled “Painting pictures of Egypt.” I always liked that song because it illustrates how hard it is to move forward from a place that is comfortable.  Even when the comfort is painful or unhealthy, moving forward is very hard. Leaving the security of familiar coping mechanisms is terrifying. Especially when nothing seems to ease the fear and pain like what I knew. When the “new life” became difficult or not what I expected, I wanted to return to the comfortable. I wanted what was comfortable even though it was dangerous and painful. “I was dying for some freedom/But … I hesitated to go. /I was caught to between the Promise/And the thing I [knew].”[1] I was often like the Israelites who constantly complained and rebelled even though God had delivered them from slavery.

They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?” Exodus 14:11

“the place they used to fit me/[Could not] hold the things I’d learned.”

I remember times memories flooded me and I forgot the strength of the woman I had become. I became the frightened child curled up in the corner wishing I could magically teleport to somewhere, anywhere that was not my parent’s home. I convinced myself that I could hold on to the “what if’s,” that “it wasn’t so bad.” and the “let me tell you about…”I told myself so many times, “I’ll get it right this time, but let me just stay here for a little while.” “I’m not ready to leave this yet.” Sometimes I took baby steps out of Egypt. Sometimes I took giant leaps. Each time, I would forget the downside of dissociation, promiscuity or overeating because “the future [felt] so hard/And I [wanted] to go back.”[2] But as Groves writes, “the place they used to fit me/[Could not] hold the things I’d learned.”[3]

I felt the old patterns, “calling out to me/Like a long-lost friend.

I wasn’t comfortable in my new life, but returning to my old habits wasn’t an option because “Those roads were closed off to me/While my back was turned.”[4] I longed to escape reality even though dissociation was frightening to my adult self, mentally disappearing brought momentary relief to my ravaged soul. I tried to revisit the past because as Groves writes, “The past is so tangible. /I know it by heart. /Familiar things are never easy/To discard.”[5] Letting go of addictive behaviors and temporary mental escapes that kept me sane for so long was excruciatingly painful. I held on for my life. I knew there was something better because I experienced it in moments of sanity and clarity. Groves words rang true to me so many times during those early years of recovery and healing, “I don’t want to leave here/ I don’t want to stay/ It feels like pinching to me/Either way.”[6] I felt the old patterns, “calling out to me/Like a long-lost friend.”[7]

Wanting to return to old patterns wasn’t about “losing faith…or about trust/It [was] all about comfort.” My addictive behaviors were comfortable. They weren’t perfect, but they were comfortable. I depended on them for my life, or at least I thought I could not live without them. Then I learned I could live without them and I learned new healthy ways of managing anxiety and stress. Memories did not send me into a spiral of irrational thought.

no longer caught between the Promise and the things I know.

After years of work I realize, “I am no longer caught between the Promise and the things I know.”[8] Groves ends the song with “If it comes to quick/ I may not appreciate it. /Is that the reason behind all this time and sand?”[9] I firmly believe there is no quick fix for healing or recovery. While I believe in miracles, I also believe sometimes the journey is the most important part of healing. A quick fix might rob you of the ability to appreciate the change in your soul. However, change requires taking the first step out of Egypt. Waiting too long might cement the habit or thought pattern and makes it harder to leave it behind when you walk toward your Promise.

Leave Egypt once and for all

To move forward, we must take a close look at what we are holding onto.  What is keeping us stuck? When we keep one foot in Egypt as we look toward our “promised land,” we hinder our ability to move forward.   Through Christ, you have freedom. In Christ, you can move forward. We can leave Egypt and not be trapped by, “Painting pictures…leaving out what it lacked.”

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Sonnet III. How Can I Make It Right?

[1] Sara Groves, Painting Pictures of Egypt lyrics © Music Services, Inc

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

Spring is Coming!

When I am in the midst of a difficult season in my life, I sometimes forget that spring is coming.  I can’t see any further than my circumstance.  Fortunately, God knows SPRING IS COMING!  I ask myself, why should I worry.

Note: I think this blog may become an annual post. Each spring I think about the joy John found in our yearly jaunts into the Texas Hill Country in search of Bluebonnets. Other than watching sports, our annual trek was his favorite activity. As our birthdays draw near, the lessons I learned from this post return to my thoughts. Spring is coming! No matter how difficult the winter, spring is coming!

“Did you get it?”,  John asked with eager anticipation in his voice. “Yes, here it is,” I replied, “Looks really good this year.”   “Should be, after the rain we had in January, he commented.

As he opened the pages of the magazine, he reminded me of a child who just opened the best Christmas present ever!  For the next several hours, John poured over page after page of pictures of wildflowers.  Nothing else mattered at that moment.  I sat on the couch smiling each time he made an excited, “Wow! We need to go here this year!”  Or “I know exactly where that is! I have a picture just like this one.”  By the end of the day, John had our route for our annual sojourn through the Texas Hill Country mapped out.

Every year we made the trip.  It did not matter to John if we saw one bluebonnet or thousands.  What mattered was the journey and ultimately seeing the result of God’s workmanship throughout the winter.  The bluebonnets peeked out from the grassy field’s along the Texas highways like tiny beacons of light that illuminated the drab, colorless landscape of winter.  Each blossom represented victory over the harshness of winter.  Each blossom represented a new life and a new beginning.

Before each flower pushes through the earth to show off its beauty, it must endure the winter.

I often wondered how these seemingly fragile plants bloom year after year.  What miraculous events occur that result in such beauty?   So, like any good 21st-century researcher, I Googled, “How to plant bluebonnets in Texas.”

From this search I learned:

  1. Bluebonnets need full sunlight to for best growth.
  2. Bluebonnets can be planted from September 1 through December 15, but for the best growth no later than mid-November.
  3. Bluebonnets produce large, hard-coated seeds that take time to soften, but also protect them from potentially destructive forces of nature (winter) until they are ready to form deep roots and push through the ground.
  4. Do not soak or prick the seeds.  Although doing so may improve the first year’s growth, it may also damage the seed.
  5. A significant amount of rain is needed during the winter months to soften the seeds enough to germinate.
  6. When scattering the seeds, seed to soil contact is essential. (the grass and weeds need to be cut)
  7. Seeds need to be covered by about 1/4 inch of soil to protect them from being eaten by birds or “burning” up in the sunlight.

In short,  to endure the winter, bluebonnets need to be planted in the right season, need sunlight, need contact and covering from the soil, need enough rain to soften their hard shell and need to grow at their own pace without being picked or rushed.  As I read this, I was reminded that God works the same miracle with us every time we go through a severe (winter) season in our life.

God has a perfect plan to help us endure the winter.

Spring always follows winter.  New life happens in every part of God’s creation in the spring.  Spring can be one of the most beautiful times of the year!  However, when I am in the midst of a difficult season in my life, I sometimes forget that spring is coming.  I can’t see any further than my circumstance.  Fortunately, God knows SPRING IS COMING!  I ask myself, why should I worry.

If God takes care of bluebonnets surely He will give me what I need to endure the winter:

  1. His Son, in all his glory shining down on me. John 3:16
  2. He knows exactly how long I need to endure the winter before spring arrives Isaiah 40:31
  3. He covers me with his wings until I can safely stand and flourish. Psalm 91

Although He provides all this, my part is:

  1. Not try to endure the winter without relying on Him. Psalm 78:7
  2. Not allow others to push me, shame me or blame me for being in the circumstance. Romans 8:31, 39
  3. To remain connected to God by abiding in Him. John 15:7
  4. Allowing Him to stand over me when I am weak. Philippians 4:13

No matter how cold or dark the winters of your life seem, remember SPRING IS COMING!  God provides all that you need to endure the winter.  God’s perfect plan will get you to spring.

How has God helped you endure a winter season in your life?

Faces of Love-Agape

While Till We Faces primarily illustrates love becoming a god rather than God is love, it ends on the same note as The Four Loves, with a description of Divine love. Lewis skillfully takes the reader deep inside love, leaving the noise of technology behind so we understand more fully what love is. Understanding love in all its complexity is the beginning for many who are blinded by the current culture. Perhaps the best lesson we can glean from Till We Have Faces is we cannot love God or anyone until we love ourselves.

As we discuss the two presentations of love in The Four Loves and Till We Have Faces, we must consider the negative elements of love that Lewis’s presents in both books. Lewis emphasizes that “our imitation of God in this life…must be an imitation of God incarnate: our model is Jesus…of the workshop, the roads, the crowds, the clamorous demands and surly oppositions…the Divine life operating under human conditions.”[1]  He says this to introduce the idea that “love begins to be a demon the moment he begins to be a god.” Recognizing this distinction is important to maintain the truth that “God is love” rather than moving toward, “love is God.”[2] As Lewis warns, any of the natural loves can become gods and seem to have the voice of God.

Lewis provides vivid and compelling examples of the complexity of love turned into gods through Orual’s relationships.  Orual’s demons were self-inflicted through her distorted sense of love. Because the gods were silent, she made Friendship, Need-love and in a distorted way, Eros became her gods.  As Ansit revealed, Orual devoured Bardia by demanding his presence through manipulation.  What Orual perceived as a Friendship, was a demon that destroyed her Friend.  In the encounter with Ansit, Orual is surprised to realize her feelings for Bardia are more than Friendship. She loved him, but selfishly. Although the Fox was Orual’s mentor, grandfather, and friend, Orual saw only that she needed him. She wanted him to herself with no regard for his welfare.  The same selfish, all consuming love causes her to rip Psyche’s happiness away.  Need-love dominated everything and destroyed her relationships until some were restored in the end of the story.

There is a striking similarity to both The Four Loves and Till We Have Faces in that, the final pages describe Charity [Divine love]  In The Four Loves he returns to the scripture from John which states, “God is love.”[3] In the propositional narrative, Lewis argues that “God as the Creator of nature, implants in us both Gift-Loves and Need-Loves.”[4] Lewis describes the three methods of giving and receiving love as “Need-love cries to God from our poverty; Gift-love longs to serve, or even suffer for God; Appreciative love says: ‘We give thanks to thee for thy great glory.’[5] Lewis admits that “the three elements of love mix and succeed one another, moment by moment… none…except Need-love ever exists alone, for more than a few seconds.”[6]  According to Lewis, through Charity “natural love is taken up into, made the tuned instrument of, Love Himself.”[7]  Similarly, Lewis uses metaphors of caves, silent darkness, rocks, and light to describe Orual’s conversion experience. Orual wanted the God’s to answer her complaint. She wanted them to speak, but after she had voiced her complaint repeatedly, she realized, “The complaint was the answer. To have heard myself making it was to be answered.”[8]  Through Orual’s experience, perhaps Lewis helps the reader understand the value of listening to those who doubt or are angry at God. 

Continuing the discussion of Divine love, Lewis argues in The Four Loves, “Thus God, admitted to the heart, transforms not only Gift-love but Need-love; not only our Need-love of Him but our Need-love of one another… natural loves are summoned to become modes of Charity while also remaining the natural loves they were.”[9] God transforms us but does not remove the natural loves. Instead, He changes us to instruments of His love.  The key phrase in Lewis’s statement is “admitted to the heart” not forced or coerced, but admitted. Lewis uses Orual’s elaborate vision illustrate God’s transforming grace. In the vision, Orual realizes that voicing her complaint and being heard is the long awaited answer to the riddle that plagues her.  By accepting the “answer,” she is transformed, her anger fades, and she sees her true self, much as God sees each of us because of Christ’s sacrifice. 

Supernatural Divine Appreciative is the one element of Divine love that Lewis briefly describes in The Four Loves, but he beautifully illustrates in the last pages of Till We Have Faces. In The Four Loves, Lewis writes, “He [God] can awake in man, towards Himself, a supernatural Appreciative love…here, not in our natural loves…lies the true centre of all human and angelic life. With this all things are possible.”[10] Lewis expresses his inadequacy in discussing this grandest of all loves because he has never “tasted this love.” However, in the last pages of Till We Have Faces, Lewis exquisitely captures Orual’s expression at the sight of Psyche, “Joy silenced me. And I thought I had now come to the highest, and to the most fullness of being which the human soul can contain.”[11] Just moments later Orual speaks of a greater love, “the earth and stars and sun, all that was or will be, existed for his sake. And he was coming. The most dreadful, the most beautiful, the only dread and beauty there is, was coming. The pillars on the far side of the pool flushed with his approach. I cast down my eyes.”[12]  Here, Lewis guides the reader into an incredible scene through the eyes of the heroine through perfectly chosen words and descriptions. We can almost “feel” him coming as Orual describes the approach, much like a song that evokes the emotion of indescribable beauty.   Once again, Lewis uses the imaginative form to say what he struggles to express propositionally.

When discussing Lewis’s presentations of love in both The Four Loves and Till We Have Faces, it is important to consider possible apologetic implications of Lewis’s use of propositional and imaginative form to address the subject of love. In the 21st century, we are competing with Social Media and other technology which is often overwhelming. When someone can “Google” any topic brought up in a conversation in real time, engagement becomes difficult.  For engagement to occur, Multiple tools are necessary. Just as Orual’s answer from the gods in Till We Have Faces was ultimately voicing her complaint without interruption, many skeptics have a “complaint” against God that we must hear before they will “hear” anything we say. Earlier, Orual fails to understand the miracle of Psyche’s rescue partially because there was “no answer” to her complaint.  She remains full of self-doubt and self-loathing and cannot see the beauty and wonder of Psyche’s new life and love.  During the initial encounter in the hidden palace Psyche wisely stopped the argument when she realized Orual could not understand.   Another skeptic who is struggling with Divine love may need Lewis’s propositional description that Divine love lifts us out of the natural loves and makes us an instrument of His love. Still another may respond best to a combination of rational and imaginative presentation.  Lewis skillfully demonstrates through these two books that there is no “one size fits all” method for describing love or God to a skeptic, and it is important for 21st-century apologists to acquire sufficient tools for the task.

While neither of these books are simple, the underlying message rings true. Love is a complex and multi-faceted subject that cannot be explained in short quotes found on Social Media.  Lewis provides a comprehensive look at the complexity of love through his propositional work, The Four Loves, and his imaginative work, Till We Have Faces.   While both books are engaging and relevant on their own merits, together they provide a more complete presentation of love.  Although these books were written before the Internet age, the metaphorical and descriptive language may succeed in grabbing the attention of those who describe love as love. Lewis’s captivating dialogue in Till We Have Faces mesmerizes even the most reluctant reader.  I can imagine my grandson reading this book with some sort of video game on his mind. The language of myth stimulates imagination which makes the introduction of the propositional descriptions of The Four Loves easier to convey.  In some sense, Till We Faces is like a metaphor of the thoughts presented in The Four Loves.  While Till We Faces primarily illustrates love becoming a god rather than God is love, it ends on the same note as The Four Loves, with a description of Divine love.  Lewis skillfully takes the reader deep inside love, leaving the noise of technology behind so we understand more fully what love is. Understanding love in all its complexity is the beginning for many who are blinded by the current culture. Perhaps the best lesson we can glean from Till We Have Faces is we cannot love God or anyone until we love ourselves.


[1] Ibid.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., 126.

[4] Ibid., 17.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., 127.

[8] Lewis, Till We Have Faces, 288.

[9] Lewis, The Four Loves, 133.

[10] Lewis, The Four Loves, 140.

[11] Lewis, Till We Have Faces, 307.

[12] Ibid.

The Faces of Love-Eros

Lewis’s discussion of Eros is perhaps the most complex and yet most relevant of all the loves, in both The Four Loves and Till We Have Faces. Of all the loves, Eros ignites the most emotion for it is what Lewis describes as “being in love.”[1]

Part 3 of a four part series based on an essay I wrote a few years ago. In this segment, I discuss eros or romantic love.

Love is a universal subject for writers, artists, and musicians both past and present. However, current media often presents love as sex and sex as love.  Social media creates a new expression of love through the click of a button on a smartphone.  Commercials for sexual enhancement and performance products appear on prime time television.  Sex is no longer taboo to prime time television rather the more sex, the higher the ratings.  Relationships change daily on Social Media with a single entry.  Our attempts to define love devolve into meaningless memes on Social Media that reflect our attempt to oversimplify the complexity of love. While engaging the hurried, hurt confused and often angry skeptics of our current culture presents a significant challenge, adding Devine Love to the equation increases the difficulty. Somehow, we need to slow down, take a deep breath and turn off the smartphones long enough to experience and understand the complex subject of love. Fortunately, C.S. Lewis was a master of slowing down the hurried mind with profound, provocative and engaging writing. In keeping with his style, Lewis offers two books that address the subject of love in unique yet complementary ways, a propositional work, The Four Loves and Till We Have Faces, a rewriting of the Psyche and Cupid myth.  While in The Four Loves, Lewis adapts four Greek terms to present a propositional explanation of love, he brings the terms to life in Till We Have Faces by drawing the reader into the experience of the characters. While each book eloquently depicts love’s complexity, the rational approach to defining love found in The Four Loves and the imaginative approach of Till We Have Faces enhance each other to provide a complete understanding of the nature and complexity of love.

Lewis’s discussion of Eros is perhaps the most complex and yet most relevant of all the loves, in both The Four Loves and Till We Have Faces. Of all the loves, Eros ignites the most emotion for it is what Lewis describes as “being in love.”[1] He quickly distinguishes Eros from sexuality by saying that “Sexuality may operate without Eros or as part of Eros…My treatment rules out mere sexuality-sexuality without Eros-on the grounds that have nothing to do with morals; because it is irrelevant to our purpose.”[2] Throughout the discussion of Eros in The Four Loves, Lewis attempts to distinguish between Venus (sexuality) and Eros, “a delighted pre-occupation with the Beloved—a general, unspecified pre-occupation with her in her totality.”[3]  Similarly, Lewis describes Eros through Orual’s thoughts during her second trip to the Grey Mountain. Although she refuses to yield to the possibility, Orual considers that she “should leave[Psyche] alone”[4] because “She is ten times happier,” [5] when she makes her second trip to the Grey Mountain.  Orual wrongfully concludes that “there is a deeper love than theirs who seek only the happiness of their beloved.”[6] Orual dismisses the existence of Eros because, at the time, she cannot comprehend such love.  The reader feels Psyche’s sorrow that her sister doesn’t understand the love she has for her husband, much like 21st-century apologist attempting to explain love to a young person, who can barely look up from their phone.  While the propositional language of The Four Loves may not engage the young person, Psyche’s plight might interest them simply because it is a provocative story of love.


[1] Lewis, The Four Loves, 91.

[2] Ibid., 92.

[3] Ibid.,94.

[4] Lewis, Till We Have Faces, 138.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Lewis, The Four Loves, 121.

Faces of Love-Friendship

By Lewis’s definition, “Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they in common some insight or interest or even taste which others do not share and which, ‘till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden).”

The is the second installment of a four part series on Love based on an essay I completed in 2017.

Lewis clearly expresses the difficulty of defining love when he begins The Fours Loves with, “God is love,” says St. John. When I first tried to write this book, I thought that his maxim would provide me with a very plain highroad through the whole subject.” [1] He soon discovers the complexity of the topic and begins the internal conversations that ultimately lead him to the four terms for love: Affection, Friendship, Eros and Charity adapted from the Greek terms Storge, Philia, Eros, and Agape. Even so, Lewis does not stop with the four terms; he also includes the terms Need-love, Gift-Love, Appreciative Love as methods of expressing and receiving love. Lewis describes each term in detail, providing metaphorical and imaginative examples for each throughout the remainder of the book. Without reading Till We Have Faces, the reader of The Four Loves would have a basic understanding of each term, but the mythical tale provides added insight and understanding for each term.


Lewis’s discussion of Friendship evokes strong emotions both in The Four Loves and in Till We Have Faces. However, perhaps, Lewis draws the reader into Orual’s relationship with Bardia more quickly than the description presented in The Four Loves. Lewis describes Friendship in The Four Loves in vivid detail through descriptions of men gathering to smoke, laugh and talk about things only they understand. While, according to The Four Loves, the foundational principle of Friendship allows the addition of new members, the new member must share the ideas and views of the current members.  By Lewis’s definition, “Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they in common some insight or interest or even taste which others do not share and which, ‘till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden).”[2]  Lewis is quite direct in his propositional discussion of Friendship pointing out that friends see the same truth. He is equally candid when describing predominately male Friendships.

While in, The Four Loves Lewis has little positive to say about Friendship between opposite sexes, the relationship between Orual and Bardia in Till We Have Faces has positive elements, at least at the beginning.  Bardia trains Orual in the manly arts of battle, teaches her to ride a horse, and openly regards her as he would a male friend when he says, “The Queen wants to fight the Trunia herself, Fox…and she could do it, too…Oh, Lady, Lady, it a thousand pities they didn’t make you a man.”[3] While the two descriptions have a common theme, the reader may accept the imaginative approach more quickly because Lewis only casually points out that Bardia does not consider Orual as feminine rather than the overt declarations he makes in The Four Loves.  Also, a woman reading this section of Till We Have Faces may be less offended by this description than the more masculine representation in The Four Loves.


[1] C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, (Orlando: Harcourt, Inc., 1988), 32.

[2] Lewis, The Four Loves, 65.

[3] Lewis, Till We Have Faces, 197.

The Faces of Love-Affection

Love is a universal subject for writers, artists, and musicians both past and present. However, current media often presents love as sex and sex as love.  Social media creates a new expression of love through the click of a button on a smartphone. 

Repost: February is all about love and relationships, so I thought I would report my series of posts about “The Faces of Love.”

This is an excerpt from an essay I wrote in 2017 comparing and contrasting two book by C. S. Lewis, “Till We have Faces” and “The Four Loves.” Both books address the complexity of love, one is imaginative and the other propositional. I used the essay as a basic for my YouTube Videos this week as I discussed the Advent theme of love. This is the first of four posts from the essay.

Love is a universal subject for writers, artists, and musicians both past and present. However, current media often presents love as sex and sex as love.  Social media creates a new expression of love through the click of a button on a smartphone.  Commercials for sexual enhancement and performance products appear on prime time television.  Sex is no longer taboo to prime time television rather the more sex, the higher the ratings.  Relationships change daily on Social Media with a single entry.  Our attempts to define love devolve into meaningless memes on Social Media that reflect our attempt to oversimplify the complexity of love. While engaging the hurried, hurt confused and often angry skeptics of our current culture presents a significant challenge, adding Devine Love to the equation increases the difficulty. Somehow, we need to slow down, take a deep breath and turn off the smartphones long enough to experience and understand the complex subject of love. Fortunately, C.S. Lewis was a master of slowing down the hurried mind with profound, provocative and engaging writing. In keeping with his style, Lewis offers two books that address the subject of love in unique yet complementary ways, a propositional work, The Four Loves and Till We Have Faces, a rewriting of the Psyche and Cupid myth.  While in The Four Loves, Lewis adapts four Greek terms to present a propositional explanation of love, he brings the terms to life in Till We Have Faces by drawing the reader into the experience of the characters. While each book eloquently depicts love’s complexity, the rational approach to defining love found in The Four Loves and the imaginative approach of Till We Have Faces enhance each other to provide a complete understanding of the nature and complexity of love thereby, providing a some insight for those struggling to understand love and all its complexity.

Lewis clearly expresses the difficulty of defining love when he begins The Fours Loves with, “God is love,” says St. John. When I first tried to write this book, I thought that his maxim would provide me with a very plain highroad through the whole subject. “[1] He soon discovers the complexity of the topic and begins the internal conversations that ultimately lead him to the four terms for love: Affection, Friendship, Eros and Charity adapted from the Greek terms Storge, Philia, Eros, and Agape. Even so, Lewis does not stop with the four terms; he also includes the terms Need-love, Gift-Love, Appreciative Love as methods of expressing and receiving love. Lewis describes each term in detail, providing metaphorical and imaginative examples for each throughout the remainder of the book. Without reading Till We Have Faces, the reader of The Four Loves would have a basic understanding of each term, butthe mythical tale provides added insight and understanding for each term.

          Beginning with Affection, we see how the imaginative style of Till We Have Faces, breathes life into the description presented in The Four Loves, thus enhancing the reader’s understanding of the term. In The Four Loves Lewis describes affection as “a mother nursing a baby; … a cat with a basketful of… kittens;” [2] In a similar manner, through Lewis’s description of Orual’s first encounter’s with the infant Psyche,  “I soon had the child out of their hands. I got for her a nurse a free woman, a peasant’s wife, as honest and wholesome as I could find, and after that, both were in my own chamber day and night…I lost more sleep looking on Psyche for the joy of it than in any other way,”[3] we experience mother-daughter Affection through the eyes of Orual, Psyche’s surrogate mother.  We readily accept the level of affection expressed by Orual for Psyche because the language takes us into the bed chamber with Orual to gaze upon the beautiful Psyche through Orual’s eyes. Orual’s experiences become our experience.

To Be Cont’d…


[1] C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, (Orlando: Harcourt, Inc., 1988), 32.

[2] C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces, (Orlando: Harcourt, Inc., 1984), 21.

[3] Ibid.

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