|Image By Rowan Heuvel|
Armed with my teaching degree, I felt ready to take on the world, I knew I could take on the world. I mean, I’d just graduated from college for crying out loud. I thought about staying in Washington, where I’d gone to undergrad, but there was an allure, a gravitational pull toward the dreamy, sunny state of California. I knew I’d be working at a camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains for the summer, so why not stick around for a year? Why not “sub and surf,” as I called it, and then move back to the Northwest after I’d gotten my fill?
The dream sounded idyllic, but it was short-lived. In the midst of applying for substitute teaching positions, I got a full-time job teaching English at a private Christian high school. I was on top of the world: not only was I using my degree less than three months after graduation, but I’d have health insurance! And a 401K! And a pension plan! (The latter two I’d have to ask my parents about - those were big, grown-up words they didn’t teach us in our education classes).
Three other girls from camp and I became roommates, and over the course of the summer I found my favorite coffee shops and a church to call home and a hidden beach to visit on Saturday afternoons. There was no doubt about it: I was living the dream.
But I was also completely and utterly lost.
Because when you’re on the cusp of adulthood, you think you’re supposed to know everything. You don’t want to admit defeat or ignorance or - God forbid - fear about any area of your life, so you fake it. You always have an answer and a smile and a reassuring nod, whether you’re standing in front of a classroom of 16-year-olds or dressed in a superhero costume among a party of your peers.
And my faith, which was an integral part of my job, my house and my social life as a whole, was floundering. Up until that point, I’d let the Church point me in the direction I was supposed to go, influencing (among other things) the music I listened to and the way I voted and the friends I kept.
It was a supposed-to type of faith, and it ran completely contrary to the people I had begun to get to know, a people who exhibited a most attractive fearlessness and freedom.
And that’s when my friend Jana pressed a copy of Traveling Mercies in my lap. Just read it, she urged me, so I did.
Anne Lamott’s words were funny and irreverent and completely holy, all at the same time.
Her story was not my story, but her Jesus was my Jesus. The grace and the freedom and the passion she possessed moved me and freed me to be my most real self, to say a wild yes, yes, yes to the scared little girl hiding inside.
“Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze,” writes Lamott, “that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there.”
Through her words, I began to realize that I wasn’t alone, that the Creator was big enough for my questions and my doubts and my quirkiness, too. I began to realize that every single one of us holds a different theology, a way in which our lives uniquely intersect with and relate to the Holy, and that each of these theologies is valuable. And most importantly, her grace-filled sentences helped me begin my own flight, with God, with self and with others.
And really, I don’t think I’d want it any other way.
Cara Meredith is a writer, speaker and musician from the greater San Francisco area. She is passionate about theology and books, her family, meals around the table, and finding Beauty in the most unlikely of places. A seven on the Enneagram, she also can’t help but try to laugh and smile at the ordinary everyday. You can find her on her blog, Facebook and Twitter.