“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is…You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down.” -C.S. Lewis
We are all tempted to do things and behave in ways that are bad for us. These temptations might be as benign as being tempted to sleep in longer than we should, or as dangerous as to make alcohol or substances a more permanent alternative to facing our issues.
C.S. Lewis discusses how even the smallest choices in either direction — “good” or “bad” — can have monumental effects later in life. This means your decision to sleep in instead of going to the gym might seem like an irrelevant action, but really, you’re only solidifying your paradigm that your health is not that important.
In another light: your decision to hold the door open for your coworker whom you dislike is actually solidifying a paradigm that says I should love and serve other people even if I don’t like them.
These small actions echo, like growing ripples in a pond, and can result in disastrous (or heavenly) life circumstances.
One of my biggest temptations is to lust after other attractive women I see, which is a terrible thing to do even if I wasn’t married (which I am). If I was to let these temptations have their way, it might seem inconsequential. But every time I secretly lust after another woman, I solidify several paradigms:
- It’s perfectly acceptable to secretly use other women for my pleasure.
- There are parts of my life my wife will never find out about.
- Even though I committed to loving only my wife, it’s OK to secretly break that commitment (as long as nobody ever finds out)
Small choices solidify large paradigms.
What paradigms have you been solidifying?