She Put the Hole in Holiness: My Girl Crush, Anne Lamott
“Holiness has most often been revealed to me in the exquisite pun of the first syllable, in holes—in not enough help, in brokenness, mess… in holes and lostness I can pick up the light of small ordinary progress, newly made moments flecked like pepper into the slog and the disruptions.” –Anne Lamott
My latest girl crush is writer Anne Lamott. My feelings toward Anne are part crush, part hero worship, part “she would totally get me if we met” awe.
I’m reading Lamott’s 2005 book, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. After my dad died four weeks ago, I did what some readers/writers/overthinkers might do (perhaps especially if they have a touch of religious belief)—I went to Barnes and Noble and bought books about grieving, death, faith, and comfort.
That first week I was still numb, but I knew the numbness would wear off, and I wanted to be prepared. The way I saw it, $80.00 worth of books would be well worthwhile if I could avoid costly professional grief therapy. Yes, I’m a real DIY kind of sufferer.
So I’ve dipped into four of the books, but Annie’s is the one I’m reading the most. I was a little worried, since she started right off damning George Bush to hell for starting the war in Iraq. While I may tend to agree with her, the constant damning to hell of George Bush was not helping me move forward in my grieving process.
But I trusted, kept reading.
What I love about my Anne is that she is so messed up and sarcastic, and she knows it. So self-deprecating, yet she’s unwilling to take shit from anyone, including God. She talks about Jesus and God in the most intimate and sometimes bitchy ways. Some Christians may find her attitude disrespectful, but I think God is strong enough to take it.
A recovering alcoholic, now in her fifties, at the time Plan B was written she is both a mother to a teenage boy and going through menopause, an incendiary situation. Summing her life experience up, she’s a survivor.
She overthinks, as well, a trait we share. Lamott admits to wrongheadedness, uncharitable thoughts, and murderous impulses. She’s not afraid to pray the one-word prayer: HELP!
In short, she’s exactly the kind of Christian I need right now. I don’t need platitudes, and my Annie doesn’t do platitudes. She’s had to do lots of inner work to get to where she is, a place where she is mostly (or at least sometimes) content with her life, and tries hard to follow her faith in God the best way she can.
For instance, she admits that she’d rather be celibate than get into another toxic relationship. Of course, in the funny way life goes, a while after she came to that conclusion, she found a boyfriend.
She attends a racially diverse Presbyterian church in the Bay area, has a female pastor, and sometimes refers to God as “She.” I know this kind of new-agey feminist stuff drives some Christians over the edge, but me and Annie, we say, “Chill.” We don’t think God gets all excited about gender. Or about a lot of other stuff.
She says, “…we should try to stay on God’s good side. It’s not hard. God has extremely low standards. Pray, take care of people, be actively grateful for your blessings, give away your money—you’re cool. You’re in. Nice room in heaven, flossing no longer required—which is what will make it heaven for me. Oh, I mean that, and Jesus.”
Before you blast me in the comments, please understand that Anne is being her sarcastic self when she says God has low standards. As if it's easy being good, being grateful, taking care of people. These are the extremely hard/extremely easy tasks God has set before us that many of us struggle with every, I mean EVERY day.
Anne battles mid-life, admits she has a bit of flab, is creaky when she gets up in the morning, forgetful. She’s a white girl who gave up the struggle with her exceedingly curly, unruly hair a decade ago and now sports dreadlocks, feeling that dreadlocks are the equivalent of her hair finding its way home. She’s a blue jeans kind of girl; she’d never judge me for my general dishevelment.
If I lived near her, my friend Annie and I would go for hikes in the hills. She’d show me her favorite views, the trails she hiked with her dad as a girl. We’d talk about faith, and failure, and love. I’d be sure she knew how much I valued our friendship, and she’d offer to read drafts of my historical novel. I might even admit that I’d had a girl crush on her. She’d be a little embarrassed, but mostly flattered.
She be kind, real, and she’d offer to watch my cats if I had to go out of town. We’d make each other laugh. I’d cook her some soup.
That’s my girl crush. Crazy Annie is helping me work through some of my grief, after all.
Have you ever had a girl crush on an author or famous person, living or dead? I challenge you to name your crush, and tell me about her.