“Micha, please try to remember not to be so ferocious with yourself.” from Found by Micha Boyett
In Found, Boyett shares the story of her first few years of parenting, which include two cross country moves and the drastic adjustments that motherhood demands. During this time, she doubts that the mundane work of mothering is enough to win the approval of God after leaving her role as a youth minister and choosing not to become a foreign missionary. Guilt and shame and weariness threaten to consume her. In her turmoil, she reaches for God by studying the Benedictine way of life, attempting to pattern her prayers after the monk’s hours of prayer. The chapters are titled by the names of the Benedictine prayers along with a quote and in the book we travel through the church calendar year with her, trekking to the Lent service while pushing a stroller through somewhat eerie streets.
Just as the book is titled Found, I easily found myself in these pages. I found myself in the harsh way Micha treats herself, always thinking she isn’t doing enough for God, always thinking she is letting God down. I found myself in the mire of young motherhood, when her body is not her own and even though she deeply loves her husband and child, she can still snap at them like a wounded wolf and then hate herself the next minute. I found myself in the efforts she puts into being good enough for God and in trying so hard to find God. Found reads like a story, not like a spiritual instruction book, which invites the reader to walk in her shoes and hear from God alongside her. In the end, Micha realizes it’s less about her finding God and instead, God is finding her.
She also realizes prayer is not always a formal act. ”Maybe if I look for the beauty more often I’d discover prayer there, in the looking. Maybe prayer is the looking.” As she sits in the balcony of her church for the Easter service, exhausted in the early weeks of caring for her two-year-old and newborn, she chews the communion wafer and thinks, “I need Christ to touch every part of me. I need Christ to pass through my milk to my baby. My mind is too tired for prayers made of words. Let this be my prayer, God.”
Through the kind mercy of her spiritual director, God offers Micha his grace. In the early newborn weeks of her second child, when she can only see her deficiencies and is already apologizing for them, her spiritual director gently responds, “Micha, please try to remember not to be so ferocious with yourself.” And when in the muck of never feeling like what she’s doing is enough, when even prayer seems to elude her, she realizes “the possibility that what God wants most of me is my full surrender in the everyday moments, my whole being opened wide for the filling.”
As Micha heard those words, I heard them too. They echoed my own journey. I wasn’t lucky enough to hear those words when my babies were young and I was taking care of them, homeschooling, handling multiple surgeries for our second child, and managing my Dad’s care as his health declined. But this year (when my babies are 12, 16, 19, and 21), I’ve been able to hear those words of grace, the invitation to surrender. And even more importantly than hearing them, I’ve begun to believe them.
Yesterday I talked to my counselor about the idea of surrender. I told her the idea of surrender sounded true and right but also a bit romantic, because I knew that path was going to feel hard and I would often be frustrated with myself for not being able to easily surrender and that it would require kindness toward myself. And she said, “Maybe that’s where the surrender is, maybe the kindness is the surrender.”