Book Review: Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

Just reading other reviews of this book took me on an emotional roller coaster–since I agreed with much of the praise as well as the criticism–so you can imagine what reading the book did. Anne Lamott is one of the most gifted writers I've known, with a unique voice and unusual blend of vivid intensity, self-deprecating humor, and raw honesty about her own neuroses and judgmental attitudes, swirled around with a “born again” faith and intense willingness to fight for most underdogs. I can't help but admit to a grudging admiration of this honesty — about herself and about others — at the same time that it often made me wince or cringe. She's complicated, and if we're honest with ourselves, so are we.

This book is a compilation of reflections on life, love, and faith. What Anne Lamott does best is allow you to view the world from her eyes and perspective and see ordinary things in different ways. Her power of observation is acute, and she brings you right into an experience or emotion with remarkable intensity. I confess that when I found myself the most offended by something she said, I had to admit that she often tore the scab off to expose raw flaws in myself that hide under the more socially acceptable exterior. We judge people like Anne Lamott at our peril, because we are all a mess, deep down, and her message of God's unconditional love is so, so important. God loves us, so we must learn to love ourselves. And then, of course, if we'll just get out of the way and let it happen, God's love pours through us to others. “Being human can be so dispiriting,” she says. “It is a real stretch for me a lot of the time.”

Here are some things that I highlighted from this book:

“These are the words I want on my gravestone: that I was a helper, and that I danced.”

“A man at church once told me never to give the devil a ride. Because if he likes the ride, pretty soon he'll want to drive. It felt as if someone determined and famished had taken the wheel.”

“My pastor, Veronica, says that believing isn't the hard part; waiting on God is.”

“Sometimes I think that Jesus watches my neurotic struggles, and shakes his head, and grips his forehead and starts tossing back mojitos.”

“Joy is the best makeup. Joy, and good lighting. If you ask me, a little lipstick is a close runner-up.”

Behold! It is an exhortation, not a whiny demand…”

“…And I realized once again that we're punished not for our hatred, for not forgiving people, but by it.

“…the great Helping Prayer, which goes: ‘Helphelphelphelp. Helphelphelphelp.”

“But I have to believe that Jesus prefers honesty to anything else…I was saying, ‘Here's who I am,' and that is where most improvement has to begin.”

“I realized just then that sin and grace are not opposites, but partners, like the genes in DNA, or the stages of childbirth.”

So I finished this book with a lot of conflicting emotions and opinions, because more often than not, living is just doing the best we can and playing the cards we're dealt. More often than not, it's really hard. I think Anne Lamott would understand my responsive prayer spoken by Dickens's character Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol, “God bless us, every one!”

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this book…or on Faith. Please leave comments below.

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