We’ve all heard it and all said it. “It’s for your own good.” We prefer saying it over hearing it.
The comment presents a conflict. I’m going to do you good by doing you bad. I’m going to hurt you so you will be healthy. I will make you happy by making you miserable. You will thank me later for hating me now. Depending on whether you are saying it or hearing it makes all the difference. We understand the truth either way but it takes the one hearing it a little longer to accept it.
On July 2, 1949 C. S. Lewis wrote to his friend Arthur Greeves a letter filled with pain. Lewis’s brother Warnie was being destroyed by alcohol and the institution that helped in the past was now refusing to keep him because he was “out of control.” All of Lewis’s life was being consumed in trying to get his brother help and possibly save his life.
But tucked away in this short two paragraph note is this neat little line,
“Don’t imagine I doubt for a moment that what God sends us must be sent in love and will all be for the best if we have grace to use it so.”1
A friend of mine would refer to this as “Planting your flag.” Theorists call it a “metanarrative” or “grand idea.” This is similar to the phrase attributed to Martin Luther when he appeared before Emperor Chrales V to defend what he had taught and written. It all came down to “Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me.”
Life is filled with such conflicts. We sometimes find ourselves doing good to people we don’t like while deeply hurting people we love. It’s imperative to see through the pain and into the person inflicting it.
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” – 1 John 4:16.
1. Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Books, Broadcasts, and the War 1931-1949, Vol. II (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004), 953.