After I came across two references to breast-feeding in the first two pages of this book, I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of book I had just downloaded.
But when the next few pages contained so much truth – the kind of truth that you know deep in your heart and in the core of your bones – I was absolutely certain what kind of book I had gotten my hands on.
In Found, Micha Boyett’s gritty and beautiful memoir, I had discovered a book of grace that stays with you, one of those books you jab in the hands of the people who trust you, and even a few who don’t because it is that good, the kind you want everyone to read because surely no one can receive this gift and remain unmoved.
I saved so many quotes and sections that I pushed the edge of the Kindle app’s memory. I’m really lucky there wasn’t a pen nearby, because had there been I am certain there would have been so many marks on my screen that my iPad screen would have been easily confused for an Etch-A-Sketch.
This was more than a good book – I’ve read plenty of those. This was more than even the best book of any type or genre I had read in a long time, although it was and is. This was a gift of grace, a moment when I wasn’t so much objectively reading someone else’s story as I was seeing my own laid out on the screen, narrated in words and phrases that had been given to someone else and were now being given to me.
I was saving sentences and praying over the words of a kindred spirit, because despite the not insignificant differences between a San Francisco mom and a dog-dad from East Tennessee, it was apparent that God was writing two unique stories with a whole lot in common.
Her story reminded me that I wasn’t alone in mine. Sometimes life is about figuring out how to slog through a spiritual life that changes on you. And in Micha’s words I received the language I needed to help me understand that grace still moves in and around you, even when it is pretty good at hiding.
I wrote last week about the journey into the hard middle between what God had given me as a new Christian and the new spiritual life that God was preparing me for as I graduated from college into adulthood. I had been searching for the words to describe it longer than I even knew, and I would still be looking if I hadn’t stumbled across holy words in a book appropriately named Found.
“I am living the middle ground, between the faith of my childhood – the Spirit who snagged the front of my overalls by God – hook and towed me to the altar for salvation – and the doubt of my mind, which though it has repeatedly seen the miraculous in the lives of the young people I ministered to, still struggles to believe the Spirit world is living and breathing, much less that I am breathing in it.” – Micha Boyett
The truth that is there, and drips across almost every page of the book, is the truth that I need reminding of every day. God isn’t waiting for some magical point when everything lines up as a precondition for showing up. No, God is present in the life that I have been given and the life that I have right here, even if it isn’t the life I imagined for myself.
The same God who called me out of the chaos of my life as an only child turned college sophomore is the same God who inspired me to dream about ministry in the hardest neighborhoods of our city. The God who laughed when I said I would never serve in a local church is the same God who is here now, in the ordinary of producing a bulletin every week and in the mundane of washing my hands after being walked by the dog.
I spent my late 20’s dreaming about living a life that would impress people, a life so inspiring no one could accuse me of selling out to live it.
But faith isn’t about creating and presenting a life other people are impressed with. That’s what Instagram is for, I think.
Instead, faith is about recognizing all the ways that God is here right now, inviting you to give thanks, and then living the life you have been given with as much gratitude as you can muster.
My new book friend Micha is a better writer than me, so she says it like this:
“Maybe redemption is the only possible story my life is telling. We are all being written together by a generous author.”
This is why we read and write – to speak the truth in such a way that God might use it to move in the life of someone we haven’t yet met.
It is grace – the gift that lifts us out of anguish and despair to give thanks – for all that has been and all that will be, but most importantly all that is, right here and right now.
So here’s the most important thing I’ve learned: grace can be found anywhere, even on a tablet and in a story that you found and that is still finding you.