Walking each other home: Book review of Stitches by Anne Lamott

IMG_2539970996080 “My time is limited. I’m dyingyou know. Not that anybody cares.”

Sigh.

It is one of those conversations where I catch myself with one hand on the receiver and one hand on the ground so that the Earth’s trajectory – and her self pity – doesn’t send me hurling into space.

“Are you going to die today?”

“Well, no.”

“Good. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

It’s been almost four years since I first met Anne Lamott in Traveling Mercies. A lot has happened in those four years and in that time, I have read every non-fiction book she has written. I find that how I receive her books is very much contingent on where I am at when I read them. What jumps out at me today, might be entirely different tomorrow.

ultimately, we are just walking each other home. – Ram Dass

The main alcoholic in my life is dying Not today, or tomorrow, but soon. They have a year maybe two at the most left.I think they need to live with me so that I can help and they think they need to stay exactly where they are (over 1, 000 miles away.) They want to die the same way they live: On their terms.

I think that stinks, but nobody asked me.

I can either spend what is left of their life arguing with them, or I can see them for who they are, a child of God, and allow them the dignity of making their own choices.

Stitches is full of Anne’s trademark dry humor, subtle wisdom, and gentle heart. It’s almost poetic in its writing style and it’s soft-spoken much like Anne’s actual speaking voice. Rather than hammer at you, she almost whispers. Stitches is like a sacred conversation between old friends.

Anne writes and speaks with gentle authority and with the wisdom of a woman who has been there, done that, and lived to tell about it. Whether it’s as the overly sensitive child who learned the freedom that comes from choosing to see what is really going on, the woman who is walking her husband home after 40 years, the best friend who grieves, the mother with a mentally ill son, or the teacher who doesn’t give up – Anne teaches us that life is a miracle, the sun continues to rise with or without our permission, that we are not rags, and that if we hold hands, we can stand against the wind.

I don’t know what season you are in. For me, I’m in the thick of chapter two – The Overly Sensitive Child. Perhaps you are facing life without your mate, a sick or wayward child, the loss of a best friend or a community tragedy much like what hit Moore Oklahoma this year. And maybe you are wondering how to stitch your life back together.

Maybe, like me you need to hear that it’s okay to let other people in , that beauty has meaning, we can take our own turn and that we are not rags. Whatever season you are in, or what you may need to hear, Stitches is a book that has something for everyone. I give it 5 stars.

You can get your copy at Amazon.com

DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT: While I do at times receive free copies of books in exchange for honest reviews, no goods or services were received in exchange for this review. I purchased the book myself via Amazon and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to tell my readers about it.

Pondering Peace

Luke 2:19 “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Have you ever been so blown away by God that all you could do was ponder? If I were to sum up my feelings and my heart over the past week, that would be it. I’m treasuring all that I have seen and pondering those things in my heart right now.

Now there is a word you don’t hear much, PONDER. What does ponder mean?

According to the Merriam/Webster Dictionary

transitive verb
1
: to weigh in the mind : appraise <pondered their chances of success>
2
: to think about : reflect on <pondered the events of the day>
intransitive verb
: to think or consider especially quietly, soberly, and deeply
 I made a decision recently that has a few people in an uproar. Only a handful of those closest to my heart and inner circle know about this decision. I know that I am following God and that he is not a God of division and I am trusting that he will find a way.
Please forgive me for choosing to keep it close to my heart for the time being. I’ve actually been writing on it at great lengths in private and yet it’s not coming together. I do know why now. It’s not coming together because I’ve been trying to testify to myself rather than of God. I’m defending and not proclaiming. I’m stuck in worry when I should be resting in hope.
When the fullness of time comes and only once He gives me the words, I will testify to Him.
Luke 2113 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.

Entertaining Angels, God with Skin On

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

It is important to have friends you can be 100% yourself with. I have those. We try our best to be there for each other whenever we are needed. Life happens sometimes though and our friends are not always available. Those are the moments I take to God. Sometimes he sends me someone, and sometimes it’s just us. He must have known I needed an angel this week.

Well, not literally, I don’t think anyway. I can say one thing, they did not come in the neatly wrapped package I usually prefer (ie well known to me and female.) They are part of a group I am in and I believe they use a nom de plume. People I trust know them and therefore I talk to them on occasion. 

Don’t get me wrong, I know that blind trust is a sin and we don’t discuss anything deep or too revealing – safety rules and all – but we do talk sometimes, mostly about comedy, sometimes about faith. I like the whole no preconceived expectations aspect of that and I enjoy talking with them. They know more than I and I love surrounding myself with people further down the path. It’s how I grow.

I also set boundaries because they appear to be male. I’m not above temptation and will not replace things I should tell my husband with a stranger. There is no lure in that for me. I’m in ministry to serve God. Even so, I am fully aware of my own potential pitfalls and watch for those slopes.  The fact that He (meaning God) can even use me astounds me sometimes. I don’t want to mess that up.

I find it interesting how willing we are to let down our masks with strangers, more so than with friends. While I reveal a lot here for you, I do strive to keep the private out of the personal. I only share that which I think might benefit someone else because we are not alone in our daily struggles. Some things are universal. While it is true there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, not everything is everyone’s business nor do I wish to glamorize sin.

I’m a sinner saved by Grace, through faith. No more. No less.

Even so, I caught myself telling him things I don’t typically share with people in my comedy group. Like how I wasn’t raised in a church. I don’t talk about that. Must have needed to.

 I caught myself wanting to know who they really were and even tried to trick them at one point. The Holy Spirit tweaked me on that one and I apologized.  I finally gave up the ghost.  I believe that God puts people in our lives for a reason. This weekend I needed a prayer partner. I was genuinely upset about something and had requested prayer for a person. I failed to explain that I was on the ceiling myself over the situation but somehow talking with them calmed me down.

Ministry can do that. So many people are hurting in this world and I’ve yet to find a channel or way to listen to their hurt without drowning in it myself. I never want to become so cold-hearted that I feel nothing when someone shares pain. Even so, balance is good.

 I needed someone to talk to and this person was there and I appreciate that.

Truth is, knowing me, as much as I’d like to believe I’d be fully myself I’d probably try to impress them with my brilliance or baffle them with my BS and neither sounds satisfying. 

God gave me an ear to listen, and heart to hear and prayers when I needed them most.

Not knowing who he really is, keeps God’s face ever before me. — And for that, I am thankful.

“I will not wish thee riches nor the glow of greatness, but that wherever thou go, some weary heart shall gladden at thy smile, or shadowed life know sunshine for awhile. And so thy path shall be a track of light, like angels‘ footsteps passing through” — Words on a church wall in Upwaltham England

Fears Erased Daily

No clue where this is but I want one. Molly posted it on Facebook today. Wouldn't it be cool if we could write our fears on a chalkboard and then erase them? Can you imagine how empowering that would be?

I’m looking through a different mirror today, one that isn’t my own necessarily. I discovered that someone I care about is afraid of me. Shocked and more than slightly concerned, I wonder how I missed that.

They have me on a pedestal that I don’t belong on and when I expressed displeasure over a specific action I watched them go through an internal meltdown that I cannot control. Man that was painful to watch. You can see the brain turning and the lies manifest in a physical crumbling of the body and a tearing up of the eyes and you can’t stop it.

They are convinced because I expressed disappointment in an action that we can no longer be friends.

Every fiber of my being wants to wrap my arms around that wound that lies to their soul and love them.  I’d do it except that it’s not my place really. I’m not invited.

Fear is an awesome captor and a devil of liar. Fear whispers – “See they don’t love you, they think you are a horrible person and failure as a friend. You don’t deserve that. Send them away, I’ll keep you company, I won’t share your secrets. I won’t wound you like she did.” Think of Golum from Lord of the Rings, do you remember his evil alter ego? If I could paint you a word picture to describe what fear looks like angry, it would be that.

I know, because I’ve been there.

Fear lies. Whenever we are afraid of someone and they offer the slightest criticism, fear tells us they are wounding our soul and questioning our value to breathe air. And so we breathe deep, we stand tall and we make fits – and like three-year old children we attack the person who dares question us and we find safety under a mask of emotional violence. And then, just like that, we run away and hide our wounded selves.

Fear is selfish. It demands attention and hates to be ignored. It doesn’t want what’s best for you it  needs attention to flourish. Left ignored it dies.

Fear is afraid of light. Why? Because light heals the broken and musty places of our inner being. If I take away her fear or in any way try to diminish it,  uninvited, I rob her of growth.

I try to remember those mentors in my life who walk with me and love me through fear and think about what they do that I might do the same. Only I got nothin. Then, after seeing three posts on fear just this very morning my answer came. Those I invited in did embrace that wounded part of me.  I have to be willing to be vulnerable. I have to be willing to say out loud the lies fear whispers to my brain. And for those times when fear held me captive, those I did not invite in, let me go with love and peace.

I’m not invited. I do not cause her fear, I cannot control it, nor can I cure it.

And so, I love her and I wish her well. And I know, that like me – she will find her way in this crazy thing we call life.