Listened last night to a Tim Keller sermon on CD on Habakkuk 2:1-5. In it he quoted from Jane Eyre where Jane is in dialogue with Mr. Rochester and herself after discovering that he had deceived her in thinking he was single (if you read the novel you will recall they had fallen in love and were to be married but then she discovers that he was married to an insane woman. In grieve, she is leaving him and he is trying to convince her to stay). Here are a few pieces of her dialog with him and with herself. I find it similar to the kinds of debates hurting people have with themselves–trying to debate with the truth and with their pain. You can get the full text on-line. This is from http://www.gutenberg.com site; chapter 27 for you with hard copies.
“Oh, Jane, this is bitter! This–this is wicked. It would not be wicked to love me.”
“It would to obey you.”
A wild look raised his brows–crossed his features: he rose; but he forebore yet. I laid my hand on the back of a chair for support: I shook, I feared–but I resolved.
“One instant, Jane. Give one glance to my horrible life when you are gone. All happiness will be torn away with you. What then is left? For a wife I have but the maniac upstairs: as well might you refer me to some
corpse in yonder churchyard. What shall I do, Jane? Where turn for a companion and for some hope?”
“Do as I do: trust in God and yourself. Believe in heaven. Hope to meet again there.”
“Then you will not yield?”
“Then you condemn me to live wretched and to die accursed?” His voice rose.
“I advise you to live sinless, and I wish you to die tranquil.”
“Then you snatch love and innocence from me? You fling me back on lust for a passion–vice for an occupation?”
“Mr. Rochester, I no more assign this fate to you than I grasp at it for myself. We were born to strive and endure–you as well as I: do so. You will forget me before I forget you.”
And then this…
Is it better to drive a fellow-creature to despair than to transgress a mere human law, no man being injured by the breach? for you have neither relatives nor acquaintances whom you need fear to offend by living with me?”
This was true: and while he spoke my very conscience and reason turned traitors against me, and charged me with crime in resisting him. They spoke almost as loud as Feeling: and that clamoured wildly. “Oh, comply!” it said. “Think of his misery; think of his danger–look at his state when left alone; remember his headlong nature; consider the recklessness following on despair–soothe him; save him; love him; tell him you love him and will be his. Who in the world cares for _you_? or who will be injured by what you do?”
Still indomitable was the reply–“_I_ care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad–as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth–so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane–quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot.”
Note the way she talked to herself. Note how she reckoned with powerful impulses and yet recalled what was truth for her during sane times. Sadly, most of us do not bother to get to this point in our thinking but continue to listen to our longings and so convince ourself of the truth we wish to believe in.
2 responses to “Debating the truth with oneself when mad”
17:9 The human mind is more deceitful than anything else. It is incurably bad. Who can understand it?
17:10 I, the Lord, probe into people’s minds.
I examine people’s hearts. I deal with each person according to how he has behaved. I give them what they deserve based on what they have done.
Jane’s God was bigger than Jane’s ego, a modern rarity, hence, “Sadly, most of us do not bother to get to this point in our thinking but continue to listen to our longings and so convince ourself of the truth we wish to believe in.”
What is louder in the mind, our longings or our God?