Tools of the Trade

Anne Lamott said, It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox, full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty, bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said, Do the best you can with these, they will have to do. And mostly, against all odds they’re enough.

I am encouraged by Lamott’s thought. I also thought adults must be so smart and, well, mature. Then as I grew, I started noticing cracks in the facade. They were not always trustworthy. Sometimes there was anger rather than wisdom. Sometimes grown men acted like little boys. Sometimes grown women acted as if they were still in junior high school.

Sometimes I saw all of that in me. It was disturbing.

I found that I was just feeling my way along. Growing some here, slipping back there. Then while reading about people throughout history, I saw that they also struggled.

Reading the early Christians from Paul and James and John up through the Desert Fathers, Ambrose, Jerome, until Augustine, I am fascinated by their struggles to understand this new reality brought through Jesus. So, I don’t feel so unique in my struggles to understand.

I just must take those “rusty, bent old tools–friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty–and” do the best I can.

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