I’ve been thinking a lot this week about a great quote taken from Lewis’s Screwtape Letters in which a senior demon teaches a junior demon how to tempt people.
This is relevant for anyone, but I immediately connected it to mothers.
I don’t have ‘a right’ to get a lot accomplished in a day. Every moment is a gift. My children are not stealing time from me when we have a ‘bad’ day, and I don’t have the minutes I want to clean up or complete a project. Every minute is a blessing. I should be thankful for the minutes I have to do projects (or train little hearts) – not feel victimized over the minutes that must be used for unplanned activities.
“My dear Wormwood,
Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury…. Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. It is the unexpected visitor…or the friend’s talkative wife… that throw him out of gear. Now he is not yet so uncharitable or slothful that these small demands on his courtesy are in themselves too much for it. They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption ‘My time is my own’. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours. Let him feel as a grievous tax that portion of this property which he has to make over to his employers, and as a generous donation that further portion which he allows to religious duties. But what he must never be permitted to doubt is that the total from which these deductions have been made was, in some mysterious sense, his own personal birthright.
You have here a delicate task. The assumption which you want him to go on making is so absurd that, if once it is questioned, even we cannot find a shred of argument in its defence. The man can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift; he might as well regard the sun and moon as his chattels….
When I speak of preserving this assumption in his mind, therefore, the last thing I mean you to do is to furnish him with arguments in its defence. There aren’t any. Your task is purely negative. Don’t let his thoughts come anywhere near it. Wrap a darkness about it, and in the centre of that darkness let his sense of ownership-in-Time lie silent, uninspected, and operative.
Your affectionate uncle,
(In Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis in Chapter 21)
I think this is a primary struggle for all Christians – and especially mothers because interruptions and time-sucks are simply an hourly thing. I’m so glad that as a Christian, I can recognize that God is as in control of the interruptions as He is in control of everything else in the universe!