In Part One, I introduced the book, “Found” by Micha Boyett. I said reading it was like Jesus inviting me to sit next to him and receive the wisdom I’d need for the hard months to come.
It’s one of several books that have shaped this Friendship Project. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you get it immediately. It’s beautifully written, full of wisdom and elegant story-telling. I read it for “work” as a Red Couch Contributor, so I had my “discussion facilitator” hat on, this time around for my 31 Days, I’m excited to re-read my favorite parts and let it soak in as a woman needing to find rest and own her belovedness. Because, I truly believe that for me to enter in these 31 Days of Friendships in a new city, it’s imperative that I bask in the wholeness of my identity in Christ. You see, my friendships, both old and new, won’t make me any more worthy of love than the fact that we moved to Los Angeles or that my husband is a pastor. None of these things weave true stories of my worth into my soul. If the old adage is true that in order to have friends, you must be a friend, then it’s also true in order to love your friends, you must love yourself. “Found” connected me to the heart of God that deeply desires that for me, which is why it’s an invaluable book for this Friendship Project. I’ll write more about our belovedness and friendship later this month. Today, I’ll flesh out this Vow of Stability and what it looks like for the rest of the 31 Days.
The Vow of Stability
The vow of stability is the thing that sets the Benedictines apart…When a monk makes a vow to stability, he is vowing to remain in a single place, with a single group of people, for an entire lifetime. For better or worse.
When I think of Saint Benedict’s vow to stability, I think of putting down roots in order to love completely.
One of the questions that the leadership team of New City asked us when they invited T.C. and me here to L.A. for the final round of interviews was, “Do you see yourselves at New City for a while”. What they were trying to gently ask- which was completely fair- was since my husband was fresh out of seminary, did we view this church position as a starter job. The short answer was, “no”.
We are “Ride or die”* church people. We don’t church hop. We don’t let people grumble about the leadership around us. We don’t spend hours criticizing the worship service. We kinda look at the church like she’s a jacked up family trying to figure out how to love well, function in a broken system, and grow together without strangling the life out of each other, so we offer her tons of grace and lots of love.
During the Friendship Project, I want to meditate on this same intensity of commitment and direct it to my friendships.
When I think of the Benedictine vow of stability, I think of this commitment as a promise to “ride or die”. Like Beyonce and Jay-Z, Taraji P. Henson and Regina King, or Rory and Loreli.
I’m really inspired by this vow. You see, I’ve been posting on Facebook for a bit about how much I miss New England. The other day, I confessed to having FOMA- Fear of Mission Autumn- Boston Autumn to be exact.
Last week, I was listening to a podcast when the guest mentioned the vow of stability. She talked about making a commitment to the situation you’re in as an expression of that vow. I was convicted because I haven’t really committed to Los Angeles and the friends I’m making. As a result, I’ve been noticing the disconnected, drifting, unmoored feeling that comes when I cling to any one or any place other than who’s right in front of me, right where I am. This is far from the relational wholeness God wants for me, this is where the Vow of Stability is a tremendous act of faith. I’m trusting that God has my best interest at heart when he asks me to stay, commit, love, own.
So, this month stability in my friendships looks like this:
1: I will not compare my friends here to my friends in Boston
2: When a friends texts or calls, I’ll respond.
3: I will not forget my Boston friends. I’ll make an extra effort to connect with them this month.
4: I will be open to learning and growing with the people in my life
Which leads me to the second vow I’m making this month.
“Conversion and growth in character happen when we remain, not when we run. This is where the vow of stability links up with the vow of conversatio moralis (conversion of life).
Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Everyday People, Dennis Okholm
Ok, true story: I’ve had so much fun studying this vow because every-time I read it, I said it like Harry Potter would say “Expecto Patronum!!!!”– which any of my friends must know- I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan. Case in point, y’all, this month I’m going to a Harry Potter book club Meetup and I’m actually dressing up. The sad thing is I didn’t have a wand to wave while studying, but I did have a plastic spoon from my Wendy’s frosty though- which is another friend essential- ice cream.
Harry Potter nerdiness aside, I love this vow because it’s an active one. It’s a daily choice to let the people, places, and position of my life move me towards Christ-likedness.
It reminds me that I’m always changing and it invites me to allow God to change me. Take today for example, I met up with a friend who showed me her favorite outdoor space, a rooftop bar with a Moroccan sensibility and I actually said, “If I could choose a writing cabin, it would like just like this. I think this may be my favorite LA outdoor space.”
I’m changed just a tiny bit. Because I found a place that resonates with me, L.A. is exciting and full possibility again. Maybe it’s not Damascus level change, but I’m leaning into the reminder from Micha that “we don’t have to separate the secular from the sacred. Christ is alive right now, in all of it.”
Christ is alive in this Friendship Project. I know it. I can see him using the people and place to change me and we’re only five days in. What more could he do by Oct. 31? I don’t know, but I’m excited to see.
Seeking Shalom in Stability, Saying Latin Words, and Waving Plastic Spoons,
Someone who is always by your side and will never leave. They have your back no matter what. They would do anything for you and will fight for you. They go through hell and back together.