Found: A Story of Questions, Grace & Everyday Prayer
Like any good memoir, Found: A Story of Questions, Grace & Everyday Prayer is a direct look into the mind of Micha Boyett, a fascinating, real, worried, hopeful, lovely woman who feels like a friend now. There’s something fragile about her, yet persevering. Soft and quiet and intelligent and gentle, sprinkled with doubts and insecurities. Micha struggles with her faith, as we all do. The difference between her and so many others I’ve read, though, is that her doubts are more about herself than about her God or her church. Like Addie Zierman in When We Were On Fire, Micha manages to depict her personal experience and doesn’t make categoric judgments against any one church or type of faith. Micha has found God — has never really lost Him, I don’t think — but struggles to believe that He wants her ordinary self and life. She constantly wrestles with her fear that she’s disappointed Him, that she’s not giving Him enough of her life — or, rather, that her life isn’t worthy of giving to Him.
The narrative is structured around Benedictine’s rules for prayer. As she connects each one to her own experience, we get a peek into Micha’s inner prayer life. The things she writes are so genuine and thoughtful and real — and her prose is delicious. I wanted to devour the book because I was so interested in what else she had to say, but the beauty of her words made me slow down, reflect — just as she’s learning to do in prayer.
It’s funny. I read it and see how vibrant her prayer life is. How much she loves God. How He speaks to her, abides with her. And yet, so much of that is hidden from her sight. It’s not clear from within. I think the same could be said about most of us. We beat ourselves up. We say we believe God is Who He says He is, that we really want to know Him, then we let ourselves believe that we don’t measure up. That we are not enough. Haven’t done enough. Don’t deserve to be there. Don’t know why He would want us in the first place. But if we truly understood Him, we’d know how wrong we are.
When we start to fathom who God really is, we can either fall on our faces in awe or let our own failings be illuminated by His light. Micha recognizes and portrays a God who she clearly loves, who she’s spent her life trying to emulate and grasp. And through her honesty, we see His light shining through her, in and around and radiating out of her. And the beauty, the absolute beauty of this woman, is that she doesn’t ever seem to know how brightly He shines through her.
I marked a thousand passages as I read. Here are just a few of my randomly-selected favorites:
“I am a sometimes-believer, in love with Jesus. I am a mystic who can’t grip tight enough to the mystical. I long for order but can hardly make a list. I need something ancient, not ruled by the culture that rules me, to tell me what to do when my boy is throwing a tantrum on the plane — thirty minutes of uncontrolled screaming, leaving bite marks on my nexk to remember it by. I need to know how to love God when all I have to offer is my daily chaos. Mostly, I long to know a quietness in my soul, true contentment, despite my spiritual unimpressiveness. I need to believe that my simple life really is a gift and really can be holy.”
“What if those two people in my bed, those two gifts in my life, are not the people who keep me from prayer? What if they’re the actual prayers I’m praying?”
“In my earlier Christian life, I was taught never to admit doubt to a nonbeliever, as if that admission might cement their unbelief, confirm their speculations that just about everyone is like me, second-guessing, longing for courage to find awe in the world.”
“I understand why. I understand the urgency of doubt, the longing to straighten the wrinkles out in my mind, make every connection from God to humanity linear. I long for an answer to every biblical uncertainty. I want to hold a deep conviction so I can explain away those Scripture passages that make me squirm.”
“Christ’s resurrection makes him vulnerable. He is vulnerable to our doubt and vulnerable to our fingers forced through his wounded skin.”
“I release my breath. How long was I holding it? I’m not sure what to do except to breathe again. What do you do when God talks in human language and you want God to stop talking and you want God to keep talking and you want God to love you and you want God to stay in the mystery clouds? And there you are in a stranger’s living room gripping a throw pillow as if it might protect you from the words of the universe Creator? That’s in the past now, God says. The roots are following you, God says. You belong where you are, God whispers. I am following you. I am ahead of you. I am a circle, and you are surrounded.”