To learn more about Found, please read the introductory post. Don’t forget to peruse The Nightstand, which contains resources for those wanting to read more on the topic.
The Bible college I went to in Springfield, Missouri had an unofficial motto, “Ring by Spring or your money back.” Most, if not all, of my friends quoted this motto, equally indignant and hopeful. In truth, we all wanted our rings, preferably by spring and definitely before graduation but we were too “progressive” to admit it. To talk about a stable, settled, successful future in our green, cement block walled dorm rooms was to talk about a life of marriage, and motherhood with 2.5 children.
This Springfield Bible college stability was, of course, completely unacceptable to my father, who told me stability looks like degrees with letters behind my name, a lucrative career and a corner office.
This well-meaning father’s idea of stability and even my Bible College’s idea of stability are far from what Micha Boyett describes as “stability” in the Saint Benedictine Rule.
God’s definition of stability is much richer, fuller, lasting longer than circumstances or possession. God’s idea of stability begins with sacrificial, for better or for worse, others-centered, cross-shaped love that Jesus revealed to the world on Calvary.
Because embracing God’s vision of stability asks us to put down roots and love right where we are, it sometimes causes us to swim against the stream of constant change and constant striving. We’re faced with the truth that if we, “Don’t change, we’re left behind.”
I came to Micha Boyett’s memoir Found: A Story of Grace, Questions, and Everyday Prayer, feeling a fresh wave of “left behind.” My husband graduates from seminary this spring with his Masters and I feel left behind. My friends’ church plant is thriving and I feel left behind. Our close friends just brought home their adoptive child and I feel left behind. These amazing changes are a far cry from my stay-at-home mom life. I’ve been wishing for more and then I realized success and stability are two different things.
Stability is a posture of our hearts, an act of love and less like a brass ring to grasp onto with sweaty, shaky hands.
When I think of Saint Benedict’s vow to stability, I think of putting down roots in order to love completely. I feel a lot like Micha wistfully reminiscing on her days as a youth pastor and all the wonderful ways she loved on a grand scale and feeling like a life committed to loving her family well is less than. This new life of stability feels less than exciting. How dangerous are we with our minivans and our blue boxes of mac and cheese?
Very, very dangerous. Love, forgiveness, commitment and faithfulness bind up the broken and tear down walls and bring God’s shalom—God’s wholeness and healing to the world in a profound way.
The life I’m choosing is, on one hand, incredibly stable: wife, mom, blogger, pastor’s wife, but also wildly unstable. It’s ministry, dealing with messy people and inconsistent church budgets, but it’s rooted in a divine stability which pulses life into the mundane. When we commit to loving well right where we are, washing dishes after dinner becomes worship. The table becomes the temple. The coffee shop becomes the confessional. The playdates become passing of peace. Because Jesus is who he says he his and because his Spirit turns our hearts toward him, there’s stability—I have to remember this. I have to remember stability is defined by courageous love and not the balance in my bank account or the letters behind my name.
When we say yes to loving well the people under our roof, just like Jesus said yes to loving his very own disciples—there’s stability. When we seek shalom, wholeness as we go, just like Jesus who invited the interruptions as he traveled from one city to another, there’s stability. When we give out of our need like the woman with two mites, trusting that God’s provision is greater than our earning potential, there’s stability.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing,” Jesus says.
So why do I worry that my stay-at-home mom, ministry wife, writer-shalom seeker fruit isn’t attractive enough?
I’m reminded of the odd purple carrots we found at the farmer’s market the last spring. They looked different and so we turned our noses up, but it could have been profoundly nutritional for our bodies. This stability we find in Christ, this rooted-ness in Him that gives us courage to love through the long haul when our contexts look different than the world’s idea of stability. We may be tempted to turn our nose up at it, but it’s profoundly nutritional to our souls.
I love the bravery it takes to live a life of stability that follows Benedict’s rule. I love the ways Micha lives it out in Found and I love to hear stories of stability in others. It reminds me Who is truly the vine and it illuminates the beauty of our family tree full of colorful, bendy, fruit-bearing branches.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
- What does stability mean to you?
- Do you think you could follow Benedict’s Rules? What would be the hardest part? What would you like the most?
- When you think of loving the people in your context well, what does it look like?
- What parts of Micha’s journey resonated with you the most?
- What did you think about the book’s structure in following the liturgical calendar and then sectioned according to the Divine Hours?
- Do you believe your simple, ordinary life is enough and that it can be holy? How might believing this is true affect the way you live?
- What else in Found resonated with you, challenged you, encouraged you?
Our April book is Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. Come back Wednesday, April 8 for the introduction to the book. The discussion post will be Wednesday, April 29. For ongoing discussion each month, join The Red Couch Facebook group.