Grace As Unearned Love

“Grace…is unearned love.”

That was the statement—part of a quote from Anne Lamott’s book Traveling Mercies—that caught the attention of several of Rock Recovery’s clients at a recent group session. “I don’t think I ever really knew what ‘grace’ meant,” said one client. Another marveled at the idea that there really might be love available that didn’t have to be earned.

That evening, I was leading the clients through a version of a practice called lectio divina, or “divine reading.” Lectio divina is a way of reflectively meditating on scripture that traces its roots back to St. Benedict in the 6th century CE. Because Rock Recovery serves clients of many faith traditions, we used the practice to reflect on a text that didn’t come from the bible but that spoke to longing we all experience for the freedom that comes from being loved just as we are.

As a Christian organization, Rock Recovery includes among its core values the conviction that faith is the foundation for complete freedom from disordered eating. As chaplain, my role is to support clients in integrating their faith into their recovery journey. I believe that the path to freedom wends its way through some of the deepest questions that we all ask—questions about identity, purpose, and where our worth and value come from. Through group activities and discussions, individual conversations, and prayer, it’s my privilege to walk with clients as they wrestle with those questions and celebrate with them as they begin to glimpse the answers.

“Grace…is unearned love,” Lamott writes. And here’s the rest of the quote that we reflected on that evening:

[It’s] the love that goes before, that greets us on the way. It’s the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left, when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking and most charming charm have failed you. Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze 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.

This captures so much of my heart for all of the Rock Recovery community, clients and partners alike. I pray that all of us would experience more and more grace—the unearned love of God that lifts us out of our isolation and restores us to the community of broken, beautiful people living in joyful dependence on the God who rescues, restores, and delights in us.

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Erin Bair joined the Rock Recovery team as its first chaplain in the fall of 2015. She is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America and has previously served in parish ministry and hospital chaplaincy. Having known many people affected by disordered eating, Erin is grateful to get to support Rock Recovery’s clients, helping them to know the freedom that God’s love and grace offers them. Erin grew up in Georgia and attended college and divinity school in Boston. Nine years into living in the DC area, she’s convinced she’s found the best of both worlds. In addition to working with Rock Recovery, Erin is a speaker and retreat leader and is training to be a spiritual director. In her free time, she loves to read, cook, hike, and spend as much time as possible in Arizona with her nieces and nephew.

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