On Northernness

A few days ago, I mentioned something called “Northernness”. You might remember that. Here I will attempt to explain it. This post is rather haphazard so feel free to go look somewhere else for a good explanation :) Last year I was reading Surprised by Joy by CS Lewis. (He’s one of my favorite authors). In the book, Lewis explains this concept that he had felt all through his childhood and adulthood. He calls it “Northernness”.

Northernness, as I recall from Lewis’s book, is this concept of joy. When he was a child, he read old Norse myths and stories and longed for the North. He wanted the geographical, physical, earthly North. Later on, his longing for the North was translated into a longing for something the World cannot satisfy. God gave CS Lewis this desire so that Lewis would find Him. Lewis said:

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the best explanation is that we were made for another world.”

I have a theory (and call it crazy if you want..) that in every person there is some sort of Northernness. That desire for something you can’t find and can’t have. It’s not manifested in covetousness or greed. It’s manifested in a longing for something. Many people call that something “happiness”. I call that something “God”.

God has made everyone with a longing for perfection and somewhere, deep down, for Him. But, in our sinful stupidity, we long for the things of this world. We long for money and knowledge and happiness. But very rarely do we find lasting happiness. That’s why we are so quick to make idols of our possessions. So quick to turn away and forget that God is the One that matters. We so quickly and futilely turn away and start worshipping other things. Humans were created to worship something, and if that thing isn’t God, they will quickly worship something else.

Christians long for (or should long for) God. This is a wonderful attribute of the way He has made us. This doesn’t mean that we can’t have hopes and dreams beside Him, though! God gives us dreams and goals for a purpose, and when we give up and don’t pursue them, we don’t glorify Him. God has given us dreams and goals to glorify him with.

I think that God has given me curiosity and a goal of “adventure”. When I think of “Northernness”, I think of adventure and wide open spaces. I think of places where no one has been before! God created the world for us to enjoy and I want to enjoy these places. I wrote to myself the other day:

“I long to see the ‘North’. Unbridled wilderness, untamed, raw earth. Freedom. The thrill of adventure. I have always been fascinated with ‘the North’. Something about it gives me chills.. in a good way. A strange excitement. Not only the actual North, but the concept of the ‘North’. It’s a concept teeming with adventure and exploration. To go where no one has gone before.”
My idea of Northernness is adventure. That’s really all I can describe it as. It’s kind of indescribable, actually. That’s what makes Northernness so cool. It’s different for everyone. For the Christian, our greatest desire should be to know Jesus more. Anything else should come after that. 
For my idea/visualization of “Northernness” check out my Pinterest board of the same name here .

One thought on “On Northernness

  1. My thought is that I love that you know what “Northernness” is. ;)

    I had felt it for my whole life and wasn’t sure what it was– that longing for open spaces, the thrill of sweeping wildness, even the specific love for Norse myth and similar “heroic” stories– and so I had a huge AHA moment the first time I read “Surprised by Joy.” It seemed like Lewis was describing so many things that had happened to me, but I’d just never had the words to express them. One of the reasons I love that book.

    That feeling comes most often to me, now, on crisp fall days with a pale blue sky, crimson and mahogany leaves overhead, and a wild wind barreling through. It is, for me, linked to the longing for heaven.

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