30.9.11 | By: Megan Langham

Looking For Trouble

If you don't look for trouble,
how can you know it's there?
--Muggles, The Gammage Cup

Last night, having misplaced the delightful book I am currently meant to be reading, I picked up my copy of The Gammage Cup to speed me to sleep. I could write an entire post about how thoroughly I love this charming, clever little book; it is a true treasure, no doubt of that. Beneath the author's simple style lies wisdom in abundance, proverbs to ponder and questions to mull over. And last night one of these questions in particular caught me by surprise. 

I'm a worrier by nature--always have been. It's the backwards blade of creativity, I suppose--being so keen on thinking out trouble for my made-up persons, I naturally tend to do the same for myself. It is a curse of a sort. For as long as I can remember my mother has tried to counter it with the time-tried admonition: "Don't go looking for trouble. It'll come to you on its own soon enough without your trying to find it." Generally I acknowledged the truth of this and stifled the rising urge to panic, but at other times I found myself questioning its practicality. If trouble is going to come, I wondered, wouldn't be in wiser to prepare all one's defenses in readiness to meet it? Why wait, unarmed, for the enemy to strike you first?

My mother's response to this would most likely have been that such an idea is all very well in theory, but in practice it would never work, because there's no possible way we can prepare ourselves for a future we can't see. And that's that.

But is it? 

Then there's another side to this idea, one of even greater import. Suppose that, recognising your inability to fight trouble on an even field, you decide to try another proven tactic. You decide to retreat. To retreat to your fortified tower, protected by your unbreachable walls, safe from grief and fear and pain and all that threatens to destroy you...and there, in your stronghold of safety, you find yourself protected from life itself.

This raises a question I've pondered for years without coming to a satisfactory conclusion: how far is it allowed for a follower of Christ to consciously protect himself? Or, rather than "allowed", how far is it advisable? The idea of this life appears to be as much striking balances as embracing extremes--what is the proper balance between "closing up your heart in a casket" (as Lewis says) and tossing it out into the street to be trampled on?

I suppose the answer has to do with the way one views pain: whether as a kindness, or a cruelty, or both. Again, I'm not sure where the balance lies. I haven't suffered enough to be sure. Neither, I suppose, has Muggles: but if she could not answer the questions in her heart, at least she had the sense to ask them.

Perhaps one day we both will know the answer to these questions and to many, many more. I have a feeling that the answers themselves will only come through pain; but whether pain is a curse or a blessing or a mixture of both, it is undeniably a fact of life, and like everything in life it is there for a purpose. A purpose beyond our understanding, no doubt, but a purpose all the same.

In the meantime, I will take my trouble as it comes, and I will do my best to be ready for it. The pragmatic and distrustful side of me would much prefer to know where and when the trouble plans to strike... but on a deeper level, not knowing is so much more of a thrill. And we all know what life would be without thrills of any kind.

Death, of course.

3 missives:

Grace said...

This is lovely, Merry. I've been wondering about these questions as well. We are very much alike. :)

Your mother sounds as sensible as mine. :D

Megan L. said...

Thanks very much, my dearest Nim!

(And of course my mother is sensible. After all, someone needs to make up for my unthinking emotion. ;))

Anonymous said...

DO YOU KNOW MELTINELLE!? O.O Ohmyword, I know her too!!!!!
I want to read this book now... it sounds adorable.
~ Mirriam

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