Have you read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader? It’s part of the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S.Lewis. I remember reading the Narnia series for the first time in second grade, but to be honest, I didn’t absorb much. I read it again in my teens, and it made so much more sense to me. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, after Eustace is turned into a dragon because of his greed, there is a scene that made such a vivid impression on me that I’ve never forgotten it. Eustace has been trying to turn himself back into a boy unsuccessfully for quite some time, and now, at the end of his rope, Aslan the Lion has come to him. Here’s an excerpt from the story.
“Then the lion said — but I don’t know if it spoke — You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was jut the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know — if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.
“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . .”
I had to go look up the actual words of this scene, because although I could remember its impact on me, I couldn’t remember how it actually went. In my mind, I could picture the great Aslan slowly digging his long, gleaming claws into Eustace’s dragon-skinned chest, and tediously, painfully, tearing the skin off him in one awful piece.
To me, this has always been a picture of the work that Christ does in us as he transforms us. Some sins are easily let go of. Sometimes we are convicted and we see how we have done wrong and we are so eager to stop sinning against our Creator. We let go of that particular sin and we don’t struggle with it again.
Other times, we struggle against sins that are so entrenched in us, so intertwined into the fabric of who we are, that getting victory over them seems an impossible task. Like a stubborn ivy that particular sin has worked its way all throughout us, leaving offshoots and deep roots and tangled strands all over.
For me, fear is that way. For just about any issue I’m dealing with, it seems, when I sit down and really think about what the root issue is, I realize that it’s fear. One of my biggest fears is to be known. Really, truly, known. My natural tendency is to close myself off to others, keeping them at a safe distance and therefore protecting myself from whatever ways they may, knowingly or unknowingly, try to hurt me. It’s easier for me to go through life not letting people see me vulnerable, see me failing, see me hurting.
Letting myself be known feels like allowing a lion to sink his sharp claws into my heart and pry me open. It’s painful, yucky, messy and uncomfortable. I fight it hard, I fight with my whole being. I try to do it myself, try to convince myself that whatever the struggle is, I can face it on my own without help. I hate asking for help.
Letting my husband get to know me, the real me, who I truly am, is as hard as letting the Father in to the deepest parts of my heart to shine His light and transform me into a person who more resembles His Son. They are the parts that we struggle to admit we even have, the sins and failings we lock away in the basements of our souls in the hopes that we can hide them forever.
Letting my husband get to know me, and understand me scares me. Fear stands in the way of that too. Fear plants its feet, digs in its heels and braces its arms against the door frame of my heart, saying “you’re not getting in here, you’re not welcome here.”
And yet, all throughout the Scriptures, we are commanded not to fear. To be brave and courageous. We are reminded, encouraged and compelled to trust in God and lay down our fears. Over and over, verse after beautiful verse exhorts us to exchange our fear for trust. One of my favorites is Psalm 27:1 – The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?
Opening myself up in my marriage means opening myself up to possible hurts. We’re both humans, which means that we both make mistakes. Lots of mistakes. We have bad days. We have bad attitudes and we blame each other for our problems. When I live in fear, I react in fear, and that damages our relationship. But when I live with faith, courage and trust, I react with love and vulnerability. It’s a daily task, and although it gets easier, it never gets easy. But my deepest desire is to live a life that honors my Father, and my second most important desire is to have a thriving, healthy, demonstrative marriage.
The last line of Lover’s wedding vows to me says “All these things I promise, asking for God’s help.” Oh how true that is! When I ask for God’s help I can accomplish the impossible. I can be strong and courageous, open and vulnerable. I can shed that dragon skin of fear and instead trust in the Lion of Judah to be my light and my salvation.
I encourage you today to examine your heart and ask if there are any sins that you need the Savior’s help shedding. Our Lord is faithful and true, and if you ask, He will do it.
Want more thoughts on how I’m learning to live with courage? Check out this post I wrote two years ago about my word for the year.