The Red Couch: FOUND Discussion

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Red Couch FOUNDTo 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?

 

REMINDER:

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.

Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site.

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Osheta Moore
Osheta Moore is an Anabaptist-y, stay-at-home mom right in the thick of moving her family from Boston to Los Angeles . She's passionate about racial reconciliation, peacemaking, and community development in the urban core. At the top of her bucket list is dance in a flash mob—all the better if it's to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" or Pharrell's "Happy." Catch up with Osheta on her blog, Shalom in the City.
Osheta Moore
Osheta Moore

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  • Yes! Stability is about our heart, our daily actions and not the letters behind (or before!) our names. This book resonated on so many levels, mostly in terms of expectations I set for myself as a stay-at-home mom. I thought I would have so much time to read and study – that it was all about setting a daily discipline but I did not at all factor in my daughter’s routines and needs. Now, I’m learning the grace in praying on the go, in fitting in Bible reading and devotions when I can, and in the importance of self-care – that sometimes reading a novel is as life-giving and serious study.

    • So glad to hear how Found resonated with you! I love how you’re learning “the grace in praying on the go” and especially that you’re keying into the importance of self-care. I’m a huge believer in self-care and used to help clients figure out how to make it happen. I’ve found when we are able to identify what fills us up, it becomes easier to then identify when we can actually do those things AND then do them.

  • pastordt

    Lovely essay, Osheta. Thank you.

  • I desperately need to believe that “my simple ordinary life is enough and that it can be holy.” I go looking for evidence of it to bolster my courage when I get back from a trip to the grocery store in which I have touched every. single. item. seven times by the time it’s all stashed away in cupboards, freezer, and fridge. Or when it’s time to start planning VBS — again. Repetition and routine feel like death to me, but Jesus says obedience and pouring myself out for those I love is life. So when Zechariah trumpets the oxygen-giving truth that “every pot in Jerusalem shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts,” he’s got my attention. I need to know that what I do and how I do it matters to Him.

    • Oh, this is such a great reflection, Michele! I’ve really enjoyed hearing your thoughts throughout the month. Thanks for reading along with us!

    • Amelia

      “Repetition and routine feel like death to me,” yes, me too sometimes! But put next to the idea of obedience and love and just mattering in this life, it seems worthwhile to plug on day after day. That’s a lovely bit of encouragement for me, Michele. 😉

  • Such great thoughts here, Osheta!

  • Taija Young

    Osheta, I love how you say that “stability is a posture of our hearts.” In conjunction with Micha’s description of stability as “the wholehearted coming and coming and coming again… it is a broken life finding healing, a misplaced soul recognizing home” (p. 225), it makes me picture curling up in my Pop-pop’s lap as a little girl. That humble posture of rest, that we can curl up in God’s arms, and come back there again and again and again…

    What resonated most deeply within me was how honest Micha was about striving, perfectionism, and the fear that she had failed to do “something remarkable” that God expected of her. She pinpoints this struggle on page 103: “Somehow I am still holding on to both of those realities: That the God who gave Chris to me is disappointed that I took him and made vows to him and am making a family with him. That the God I claim holds grace out for every failure, every broken choice, is angry for what I left undone across the ocean and in another life I never lived.” When I read that, I felt like a deeply hidden fear in me was exposed and the power it had been holding over me was released. I didn’t realize how conflicting my perceptions of God’s view of my decisions were! How freeing it is to have that out in the light to examine with Him.

    • Oh, that was a profound moment in the book for me too, Taija!

  • Amelia

    I love the point about Jesus and the interruptions he faced in ministry. I have been seeking out those stories lately. I need the reminder that the countless interruptions might be part of the path after all. I hadn’t thought of all of that in terms of stability, though. I love that–the idea that we’re inviting interruptions but that these interruptions become part of the rootedness of life in Christ. Thank you for that worthwhile thought to ponder! I love, too, the images of what it looks like to “love well right where we are,” at dinner, coffee, playdates. That may be one of the best descriptions of missional living I’ve heard.

    • YES! My favorite is the crowded street scene when Jesus is on the way to help Jairus’s daughter, but the woman with the flow of blood gets healed on the way. He dealt with her as if she were job one, and “loved her well right where He was.” All my “destinations” become idols to me.

  • Anna

    Coming to the discussion from Micha Boyett’s blog link. Found was an incredibly important book in my journey back to faith after my Mum’s death and I’m now re-reading it and being doubly blessed. As I read it, I realized why I had fled the faith of my youth: because I wrongly felt I had to “earn” my worth and that I failed to live up to what God expected of me. Reading it a second time this line hit home in a big way: “If we are found in God, rooted in God, we see our need and our value in the most real way.” “allowing every part of us to be loved by God” is still a struggle for me: but when I do surrender it all, the peace and warmth I feel is overwhelming. I am so thankful to God for using Micha Boyett’s story to speak into my heart and soul. Thank you for choosing her book to discuss: it is such a huge blessing.

  • sgibsonneve .

    Before I say anything else, this is my first book club book with you and I am thrilled! I LOVED this book and I would never had read it if I hadn’t heard about it here. I can’t wait to get into Just Mercy!
    Everyone’s comments are so profound that I’m almost afraid to comment but I loved this book so much, I feel like I need to say something. As I was reading, I just kept feeling, “Someone else feels the way that I do!” I struggle so much with perfectionism and I know that it is so in opposition to what I say that I believe about God’s love for us. I say that I don’t believe I have to earn my way into God’s favour by doing the right things or speaking for Him the right way or thinking the right things but deep down, I struggle so much with feeling not good enough and I haven’t really accepted the His grace entirely. I am a working mom (a teacher) and I’m always juggling and as I sit at the ice rink waiting for kids or I struggle to keep on top of the chaos of my house, I keep feeling as if I am somehow missing my great calling. As I read, I tried to stop and pray more incidentally and I also started reading the Psalms again and it was incredible to me how much it helped me to refocus. I also wanted to be more aware of seeking God wherever I was and yesterday, I had one of those amazing moments. I was walking the dog in a field near our house and a train came through nearby. The sound was totally ovewhelming but all of a sudden, when the train had passed through, I was overwhelmed by the fact that when the train had gone, I could hear how loud and lovely the birds singing was in the silence left after the noise. My first thought was that it was a bit like Good Friday – the noise and pain of Good Friday led us to the amazing power and beauty of Easter but the one had to be present to help us to really see the other. Because I was “seeking” in my travels, I was seeing in a new way. Then, I went to church and our pastor’s sermon was about God’s presence in the silence after Jesus’ death on Good Friday…
    Sorry I wrote a book but this book meant so much to me where I am and I am so grateful for this book club!

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