Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace
book by Annie Lamott | review by Casey Matthews
Good writers can make almost anything interesting; great writers can make it meaningful. If you know anything about Annie Lamott, you know that she is a prolific writer, staunch activist, Democrat, and devout Christian. If you know anything about Lamott’s writing, you know that she writes about the simple, everyday tasks and places where we are able to reflect and find God. Her new book, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace, is a candid collection of essays in which she explores the depths of her own life experiences and details her own struggles of forgiveness.
Lamott opens up about many painful experiences in her life—losing close friends, past addictions, her painful relationship with her parents. She does not gloss over her raw emotions; in fact, Lamott knows that her brutal honesty is, in many ways, her own saving grace. The more honest she is with herself, the more she is able to fully heal, and there are moments in which I find myself so admiring how introspective and revealing she is willing to be with her readers.
Her essays are written with a mixture of Christianity and Zen philosophy.
Lamott is quite clear that God’s omniscient presence in her life is how she is able to contend with the loss of loved ones. One of the most poignant essays is where she discusses the tumultuous relationship she had with her mother, which, for her, continued after her mother’s death. She wanted for so long to forgive her mother, to let go of her pain, and through a slow process of prayer and acceptance, she finds a release to her feelings. She must let go in order to really let go, which sounds very simple, but as we all know, holding on to our own feelings of resentment and anger feed us more than we are willing to let forgiveness truly heal us. She quotes theologian, Lewis Smedes, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
As spiritual as Lamott is, she also does not shy away from politics and other controversial topics. She delves into the Iraq war, mommy wars, and a mid-life foray into online dating. However, she shares her opinion and beliefs without offense; she mixes humor into her essays, often making herself the object of ridicule, and most importantly, she always returns to using prayer as the center of her existence. Every reader will find a passage that personally speaks to him or her.
As we begin a new year with new possibilities, we look at our past year as a guide map for our new one. We can choose to follow similar paths, or we can strike out on our own. Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace is an inspirational read that will get you ready to begin your journey.
Casey Posey Matthews graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Education from University of Louisiana in Monroe and her Master of Arts degree in English from University of New Orleans and is now an English teacher at Beachwood High School in Cleveland, OH.