So Ruined, and So Loved

It’s been a while since I’ve had a good, solid, spiritual centering.  I miss my church, which I’ve abandoned because the pastor I adored moved on, and as lovely as the new minister is she simply doesn’t hit me emotionally the same way.

Of course, Advent will start soon, and I suspect I’ll be back at church just to be able to lift my voice in the Christmas hymns which I love so much, so maybe that will change things for me. I’m also planning on increasing the number of recovery meetings I attend, as my sober anniversary is just a bit over three weeks away.

But even better than all that is I’ve begun reading Anne Lamott’s new book: Help Thanks Wow: the Three Essential Prayers.

I’ve read all of her books, but my favorites are definitely her books about spirituality, and while I may not know her personally (alas), I consider her to be somewhat of a spiritual mentor for me because she’s written about things that have been permanently folded into my life and lexicon; things such as “when everything is awful it’s because something beautiful is about to be born” and what Charlie and I call “the Anne Lamott test” where we consider decisions based on how they make us feel as a way to connect to our instincts.

And that was the world’s longest running sentence ever.

So, anyway, I’m reading her newest book and the above quote jumped out at me and made me cry ugly tears. I forget, so often, that I am in charge of so little – and in particular I am not in charge of what anyone thinks of my life or the boundaries I set, and even in the relationship with my family.

Charlie and I clash, considerably, on the idea of God and whether there is a God or not. He feels very firmly that there is not, I feel very firmly that there is. Tori claims she also believes in God, even though we don’t push her to believe one way or another and we both talk frankly about our views. My mom is a Christian and passionate about Jesus, which makes us a very mixed household indeed.

But sometimes I lose faith (often), sometimes I feel disconnected from God (even more often), and I need help. This additional quote from Anne Lamott’s book struck me too:

If I were to begin practicing the presence of God for the first time today, it would help to begin by admitting the three most terrible truths of our existence: that we are so ruined, and so loved, and in charge of so little.

I feel like I often have to restart the process of believing in God over and over and over again, particularly after the loss of the boys. My faith was so secure before then! Life sucks sometimes, and it’s so much easier to blame God than to practice acceptance. I struggle with this every minute.

But the statement about being “so ruined, and so loved” makes me think about my sisters. I haven’t spoken to any of them since Diana’s heartbreaking post, and I’m not sure if it’s because we all needed a bit of a breather or if it was just me. I feel such gratitude for having broken through the wall there, and I feel so connected to them – but I also know that there is a huge part of me that has simply compartmentalized the situation and that I’m not poking at the emotional turmoil around it (compartmentalizing shit in my head and heart is a trait I share with Diana, apparently).

When I get like this and closed down, it’s when I know I need to reach out to and try to connect with God again, but I become afraid because I know if I open myself up enough to let in God, I’ll crack open the walls around my heart and have to feel what I’ve been avoiding feeling.

But it’s happening anyway, because here I am, feeling open and raw and sentimental and full of love and grief and joy. This is good, and terrifying, and overwhelming, and wonderful. I’m trying to hold on to this final quote:

Grace can be the experience of a second wind, when even what you want is clarity and resolution, what you get is stamina and poignancy and the strength to hand on.

So, this is me, working on hanging on and hoping that grace will bring me a second wind.

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Comments

  1. Pauline Gaines says

    Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writer and human beings. I take out her spirituality books and read them when I feel hammered by life and have no idea what to make of anything and she always grounds me.

  2. The Maven says

    Thank you SO much for this post. I needed to see it today for a variety of reasons. First of all, I’m a self-proclaimed non-religious person. I’m spiritual, certainly, and believe in the existence of a higher power (although possibly not a conscious one; I tend to use “The Universe is telling me something” a lot). I’m also a sober sister, so connecting with God is essential to my wellbeing (as you know).

    But I get turned off by the concept of “God” when God is used as a weapon. I’m seeing that in big ways (Israel and Gaza, for example) and in small ways, like all the “It’s MERRY CHRISTMAS/take back Christmas!/Christmas is for Jesus” posts that are all over Facebook right now. To me, they feel exclusionary and elitist. I shy away from my higher power when these things happen, because I associate God with what I was raised to believe (which is very different than what I believe today.) I don’t want to be part of violence and prejudice. I just want to feel connected to my higher power.

    And then I read this post, and it reminded me to take a breath, take a step back, and focus on MY spirituality. Time to work on myself again and not worry about everyone else’s beliefs, opinions or actions. THANK YOU.

  3. jeanie says

    What The Maven said – although I have some belief in God, I am not completely sold on the whole package as pushed by a lot of the organised religions – and although I am not in recovery, I have enough shit of my own to deal with and your post today hits exactly what I often try to grasp.

    Will look up that author over here.

  4. Tamara Tipton says

    Okay, so this book just went on my wish list. My plan for 2013, buy 1 book a month from my list. I might be able to clear the list by 2015. maybe. Thanks for the lovely honesty of this post. :-)

  5. Sarah says

    Well, I don’t believe in God. You can’t blame God for your lost sons, because some ethereal being in the sky had nothing to do with it. It was rotten luck and the capriciousness of the universe. I think the whole business about “Grace” and a second wind boils down to only: you can choose to go on, or you can choose to not go on and choose to self-destruct. I don’t see where “God” factors into anything.

  6. Susanne (Stationary Runner) says

    YAY! I didn’t know Anne Lamott had a new book out. I love her work. I’ll definitely be checking this out.

    Not being able to change other people… seems obvious, but it is a concept that is taking me a long time to learn and understand.

  7. Rita@thissortaoldlife says

    The word “God” is so problematic. I see it as shorthand for “that thing that makes me feel there is some sense–or, at least, meaning–in all the seeming-chaos that surrounds me.” For me, God is love and truth. That’s it. When I try to see the truth from a place of love, most all is pretty much right with my world. I love Anne Lamott because she speaks truth in words I can hear. Thanks for letting me know she has a new book out.

  8. Ninotchka says

    I’m a HUGE compartmentalizer too and I keep even those closest to me at arm’s length. I can “box up” people at a frighteningly quick rate. Meaning, I can figuratively wrap them up in bubble paper and put them in a box and think fondly of them and wish them well from a very safe distance. I’m feral when I feel cornered or even slightly impinged upon. It’s crazy that I’ve been married for nearly 18 years considering how non-commital I am about everything. Buddhist-like enlightenment or defense mechanism? That remains to be seen. But yes, wow. Those words “so ruined, so loved” … yeah, hit me like a ton of bricks. Thanks for opening me up, Cec. You are one of the few who tend to do that and always in a timely manner, right when I’m visiting upon similar concepts in my head. :)

  9. Steve says

    Cecily:

    This post is beautifully written, poignantly honest, and refreshingly encouraging. Thank you! I love Anne Lamott as well, and was writing a post including the quote that you used in this post, which is how I ran into your blog. I’ll keep reading!