Even C.S. Lewis had difficult “pictures” to reverse


Our words and actions can leave an indelible imprint on another person's life, either for good or evil.

The Kilns, 6 July, 1963

Dear Mary,

… Do you know, only a few weeks ago I realized suddenly that I at last had forgiven the cruel schoolmaster who so darkened my childhood. I’d been trying to do it for years; and like you, each time I thought I’d done it, I found, after a week or so it all had to be attempted over again. But this time I feel sure it is the real thing. And (like learning to swim or to ride a bicycle) the moment it does happen it seems so easy and you wonder why on earth you didn’t do it earlier….



The letter was written by C.S. Lewis, noted Christian author and apologist, to an American woman he had met through a letter. During the course of more than a hundred subsequent letters, they carried on a friendship. The friendship continued for thirteen years; this letter was written just a few months before he died. In it he recounts the painful childhood memory of a teacher in an English public school who bullied him and all the other boys in his class.

The hurt little boy grew up to be a teacher himself, a well-respected scholar at a well-respected university. He was a famous author, writing letters to people across continents to help them as they struggled with their faith. And he was a strong Christian. Yet it took him all his life to come to terms with that picture.

The pictures we leave behind in others lives are incredibly powerful.

Whether we’re parents leaving pictures for our child, today. Whether we’re coaches teaching athletes teamwork. Whether we give piano lessons or volunteer for vacation Bible school. Whether den mothers or scoutmasters, we are all leaving pictures in others' lives.

The pictures we leave can enlighten others or, as in Lewis’s case, can “picture” a life-long challenge. Take a minute to thumb through the pictures of your past. Do you have a picture like the one Lewis had? If so, ask God to shed light on that picture and person, enabling you to see it through more compassionate eyes. Then take the picture to the cross, forgiving as Jesus forgave, entrusting the injustice, as he did, to him who judges righteously.

Lord, I’m back again. I know there are pictures that hurt me. Some are of recent origin. But, Lord, you know I’ve got others. Some that go all the way back to my grade school days or growing up at home. Those pictures still hurt and often hold me back from blessing others. I bring them before you as well. Thank you, Lord, for cleansing me from the inside out that I might love you and bless others more.

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