I keep going back and forth about my thoughts on this book, Help. Thanks. Wow. I remember reading Plan B and Traveling Mercies and being so caught up in the pages and feeling like I and the author were one. I connected with Anne Lamott's writing style, her personality and almost everything she was saying and I wanted more. Now, maybe it's because of my lack of reading lately or just because I've grown into different tastes, I found that her writing style didn't seem to grab me as much. I still related to her and what she wrote in this book, but I guess I was expecting or wanting more... of course there was still a lot that grabbed my attention!
The past several months have been such a rollercoaster for me emotionally and spiritually. Who I want to be, who I think people expect me to be and who I actually am, just don't seem to be lining up and digging through all the rumble of the past two years of my life has only caused me to feel like I might never get back to the person I once was. But, what I am beginning to realize is that maybe that's a good thing.
Years ago now, when I committed my life back to God, I cultivated a relationship with Him where I didn't want to do anything, say anything, act any certain way because I thought I "had" to...like it was the "Christian" thing to do. I wanted authenticity and honesty and I believed as Lamott says in this book, that "when you're telling the truth, you're close to God" (I still agree with this, by the way). But in the back of my mind, hidden away well enough that I didn't recognize it, was still this belief that I needed to be perfect for God.
Spoiler Alert: I am NOT perfect. I make tons of mistakes, say and do things wrong all the time and have a tendency to make things worse by not confronting issues as they come up! Never before have I seen the very depth of my own sin has I do now, especially as I look back at my time in Ecuador. In fact, as I began seeing just how "human" I really am, in some ways, it began to destroy me. I felt like it was all too much and I couldn't face God anymore... so for a bit I didn't. Over the past few months though I've begun remembering the truth of what Anne says in the beginning chapter of this book, that "prayer is taking a chance that against all odds and past history, we are loved and chosen and do not have to get it together before we show up"! And that has brought me some freedom!
Lamott says, "When we think we can do it all ourselves, it's hopeless. We're going to screw things up. We're going to get our tentacles wrapped around things and squirt our squiddy ink all over so that there is even less visibility and then we're going to squeeze the very life out of everything". I've been there, done that... but then I've also had to continually remind myself that it's true, "The three things I cannot change are the past, the truth and you". When I let that sink in...when I loosen my grip of control and stop over analyzing everything, learning to deal with things not on my own but with the help of God, I can actually walk in that freedom I mentioned above.
Truth is, I can continue to live a life where I beat myself up continually for not living up to a perfection I cannot reach (the old me) or I can do my best, turn to God and as Lamott says, "Leave the results in God's good hands". Anne laments that "if we stay where we are, where we are stuck, where we're comfortable and safe, we die there" but then encourages us that "having done the right thing lift us out of the glop, the dregs of our own delusional thinking, and puts us a bit closer to being on the right track". This is the kind of life I want to live.
So do I recommend this book. Yeah, of course. Like I said there is a lot of good in here (some of which I have shared). The writing style isn't exactly where all her previous books seemed to be and sometimes I got lost in the "poetry" that she quotes throughout the pages, but her words will speak to different people in different ways and there is certainly a lot of value in reading them!