I think my mom or dad introduced me to Anne Lamont nearly 20 years ago (gosh that makes me feel old). It was sometime around middle school and I was looking for fiction to read, when they shared one of her novels; maybe it was Hard Laughter or Rosie—and right then I fell in love with Anne's honesty and wit. Later in high school my dad gave me Bird by Bird, which was a critical piece of my story as I learned to love writing. While at college, I took a freshman class about worldview, and there we read Traveling Mercies, which was possibly as important for my faith, as Bird by Bird was for my writing. More recently Anne wrote the refreshing Help, Thanks, Wow, which reminded me that simplicity is key when it comes to faith. It's no underestimation to say that Anne Lamont has shaped me and helped me understand what I was capable of becoming.
All this leads to last night, when I attended a speaking engagement with my dad to hear Anne in person. She has just released her newest non-fiction book, Hallelujah Anyway, and she spoke about the benefits of mercy. She was as unassuming and generous, funny, brilliant and fierce, as I had imaged all of these years. And again, she reminded me about life's most important things. Here are just a few things that she said that were worth taking note:
Mercy is when you get how hard it is for people to be here. Mercy is grace in action; loving kindness. When we go back for each other—that's what mercy looks like. "I'm here, and we're going to do life together."
You are loved and chosen and safe—but it's ok to be afraid and worry and cry. It's always a good time to feel vulnerable and to feel deeply in your heart. We must agree to be in our heart and not our mind.
Develop a habit of mercy with yourself. Learn to say no. The most incredible thing I can do is to be well, settled, breathing clearly, resting. Stop trying to save, fix or rescue others. Never worry about not giving enough.
The worst thing of all, is not to wake up for life. Come back to your breath, come back to mercy. Put on better glasses, and ask yourself, 'How alive am I willing to be.'