<%image(20050320-lamott.jpg|47|75|lamott)%> In reading the first 3 essays in Ann Lamott’s new book, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, in Borders last night, I was struck with an element in her writing that is found so rarely in many writers (defintely with myself included!). It’s not Lamott’s unparalleled hatred for George W. It’s not her tainted past. It’s not even her unapologetic love for Jesus. It’s her brilliant honesty.
Navigating the “ho hum” movements of life, Lamott transports the reader into her world and her struggles to be like Jesus. For example, after sharing a very touching and powerful sermon one Sunday morning, she goes home only to lose her temper with her son. Going for a walk and sitting to prayerfully meditate, she then reflects on how holy she is. It’s reminiscent of the Screwtape Letters and the proud reminder to the Christian of how humble he is. Through it all there is a struggle, but somehow, God miraculously wins.
In another story Lamott relates the bitterness that she has held against her mother for two years after her death. Though I think she has forgiven her mother and gotten past some of her rage, Lamott makes no effort at hiding those two years in which her mother’s ashes were stuffed in the back corner of her closet. She was not ready to forgive and told this to God, never feeling any pressure to push the process beyond where she was at.
Of course it is dangerous to hold on to bitterness for long. Being a part of a messy divorce has taught me that in multiple ways. Yet I think that Lamott has hit on something here. If you are genuinely not ready to take a step with God, tell him about it. Wrestle through it with him. I’m sure that he was not surprised with her reaction to the years of pain her mother caused.
I think that we want to cut into the healing and reconciliation and the purpose of God in the midst of the pain without really wrestling with the pain. Anger at people and even at God is OK. God will still be God. He will wait it out and bring restoration as we come around to a place for forgiveness and healing.
Lamott candidly shared her journey from pain and suffering through bitterness to healing and it touched something inside of me. By saying to God, “Not now,” she did not shut herself off from God. She didn’t ignore the problem or deny its existence. She waited and so did God. I find that to be wonderfully freeing.