Sometimes I read something in a book that rings so true I just have to share it. Continuing my journey through Anne Lamott’s writings, from her 2013 book, Stitches, comes this thought:
“I rarely felt at home as a child, nor did I feel that the earth was my real home. I was a girl who found it scary and confusing to be on this particular planet at all. … My brothers and I were not encouraged to search for God, the obvious source of solace, … The grown-ups we trusted did not share the news that life was going to include deep isolation, or that the culture’s fixation on achievement would be spiritually crippling to those of a more gentle character. No one mentioned the peace that was possible in surrender to a power greater than oneself, unless it was to an older sibling, when resistance was futile anyway. Teachers forgot to mention that we could be filled only by the truth that suffuses our heart, presence, humanity. So a lot of us raced around the rat exercise wheel, to get good grades and positions, to get into the best colleges and companies, and to keep our weight down.”
“If you were raised in the 1950s or 1960s, and grasped how scary the world could be, in Birmingham, Vietnam and the house on the corner where the daddy drank, you were diagnosed as being the overly sensitive child. … What that term meant was that you noticed how unhappy or crazy your parents were. Also, you worried about global starvation, animals at the pound who didn’t get adopted, and smog. What a nut. You looked into things too deeply, and you noticed things that not many others could see, and this exasperated your parents and teachers.”
With such a long quote, there’s not much more for me to add except that I was – and in many ways still am – that child. The girl with a gentle, spiritually-open nature that when crazy stuff happened around her and to her she learned to turn off that gentle side. To not feel any pain. To feel nothing in order to keep herself safe. To not let the potential for love, or Love, enter her heart in order to keep herself safe.
My vision of God became incredibly skewed as a child and God and I are still working to straighten it out (well, I’m the one doing the work, but without His Love, guidance and support I would fail miserably). It will take a lifetime of work and prayer and putting one foot in front of the other, step-by-step. And, sometimes I feel up to the challenge and sometimes I don’t. I’m ever grateful that God is not as wishy-washy I am and never leaves me, though I leave Him all too often.