No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time.

No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. – C.S.Lewis

If you are fighting the temptation of smoking, have you failed when you light up, or when you give up on quitting?

If you are fighting the temptation of smoking, have you failed when you light up a cigarette, or when you give up on quitting?

What does that mean?
This is another significantly shortened quote, per the limits of Twitter. A longer version is as follows:

I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations. It is not serious provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience et cetera, doesn’t get the upper hand. No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes are in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up.

While I have considered a similar quote before, I wish to address this from the viewpoint of persevering in the face of temptation.

This is the holiday season, and there is typically food everywhere. There is often alcohol in abundance as well. For those with issues related to overindulging, this is a tough time.

But the only way to truly fail is to quit trying. No matter how muddy we get, no matter how tattered we feel, a warm bath and a change of clothes await us, if we persevere.

Then it’s back into the fray, to face temptations for yet another day. Yes, we will get muddy. Yes we will tear our clothes. Yes, we will, on occasion, fail. But we will persevere.

Why is perseverance important?  
Everyone has temptations. Everyone struggles against them. Everyone succumbs to them from time to time. But we only fail for the time that we give up, for we can always stand again, and begin anew. With a chance to clean up and change our clothes, we can start again.

Temptation is everywhere. I am tempted at different levels by many things, including the shiny things. They are everywhere at this time of year, and it takes constant determination to resist. And I’ve succumbed a few times. But I get back up and persevere in my resistance.

Why persevere when quitting is so much easier? To me, the answer is that quitting brings even more pain and problems than does persevering. It may not feel that way at first, but over time, it builds and builds, until you say ‘enough’ and stand again, wash off the mud, change our clothes and start over again.

Without perseverance, we would spiral into a dark and terrible place. If I grabbed all the shiny things I saw, what would happen to my finances? How would I pay the rent? How would I eat? Even if I have a momentary fit of weakness, I can still get back up and persevere.

Where can I apply this in my life?
I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of anyone I have known who wasn’t tempted by something. I’ve had problems with eating, drinking, and with the acquisition of shiny things. I’m better now, but no-one is perfect. We all struggle with something (or several somethings) in our lives.

I’m not an expert on how to overcome temptation. There are plenty of programs out there which deal with different kinds of temptation, and I won’t try to duplicate their efforts. Instead, I would like to approach things from a slightly different angle.

How many people do you know who have tried to quit smoking, and then, after failing just once, decided they were just smokers, and rejoined the smoking crowd? That describes my dad, and so many others I have known over the years. They didn’t fail when they lit up, they failed when they gave up.

This quote is about not giving up. It is about getting back up, no matter how muddy we have become in our fall. No matter how torn or damaged our clothes are. We get back up. We are human, and we will fail. Over and over again, we will fail. But it isn’t over, unless we give up.

Perseverance, then, is the way to beat back temptation. If we learn from each experience, become a little stronger and better prepared to defend ourselves against temptation, we become a more difficult target for temptation to exploit. But we have to be in the fight to stand a chance.

If we give up, we are in trouble, at least until we decide we’ve had enough and get back up. Because even in temptation, we are only down for as long as we determine we will be. Once we decide to get back up, we are, once again, on the path to victory. Until the next time we fall.

And then we get back up. Again. And again. Persevere through all your falls, and you will become a better person for it. Not for the falls, but for getting back up.

From: Twitter, @CSLewisDaily
confirmed at : …cs-lewis-on-overcoming-temptation/ letter to Mary Neylan, 20 Jan ’42
Photo by Scott Miles Love

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