Attaching to God: Neuroscience-informed Spiritual Formation

076: Bearing God in the Storms of Death and Life (with Marlena Graves)

October 24, 2023 Season 5 Episode 76
076: Bearing God in the Storms of Death and Life (with Marlena Graves)
Attaching to God: Neuroscience-informed Spiritual Formation
More Info
Attaching to God: Neuroscience-informed Spiritual Formation
076: Bearing God in the Storms of Death and Life (with Marlena Graves)
Oct 24, 2023 Season 5 Episode 76

Have you ever been tossed around by the storms of life and wondered where God is in all? Or have you wished Jesus would quiet the storms a little quicker and more often? Today we are talking about bearing God in the storms of life.

Marlena Graves is the Assistant Professor of Spiritual Formation at Northeastern Seminary in Rochester, NY. She has written five books, most recently Bearing God: Living A Christ-Formed Life in Uncharted Waters.  She wants people to know God delights in them.

Stay Connected:

  • NEED spiritual direction or coaching that aligns with this podcast? Connect with Cyd Holsclaw here.
  • Join the Embodied Faith community to stay connected and get posts, episodes, & resources.
  • Support the podcast with a one-time or regular gift (to keep this ad-free without breaking the Holsclaw's bank).
Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever been tossed around by the storms of life and wondered where God is in all? Or have you wished Jesus would quiet the storms a little quicker and more often? Today we are talking about bearing God in the storms of life.

Marlena Graves is the Assistant Professor of Spiritual Formation at Northeastern Seminary in Rochester, NY. She has written five books, most recently Bearing God: Living A Christ-Formed Life in Uncharted Waters.  She wants people to know God delights in them.

Stay Connected:

  • NEED spiritual direction or coaching that aligns with this podcast? Connect with Cyd Holsclaw here.
  • Join the Embodied Faith community to stay connected and get posts, episodes, & resources.
  • Support the podcast with a one-time or regular gift (to keep this ad-free without breaking the Holsclaw's bank).

[00:00:15] Geoff: Have you ever been tossed around by the storms of life and wondered where is God in it all? Or have you wished Jesus might quiet the storms a little quicker or a little more often than it seems that he does today. We're talking about bearing God in the storms of life. This is the embodied faith podcast with Jeff and Sid Holzclaw, where we are exploring a neuroscience informed spiritual formation produced by grassroots Christianity, which is growing faith for every day.

Today we have, uh, our guest is Marlena Graves. She is the assistant professor of spiritual formation at Northeastern Seminary in Rochester, New York. She has written five books, most recently, Bearing God, Living in a, or Living a Christ Formed Life in Unchartered Waters, that's her most recent book. And she loves to help people know that God delights in them.

And I left that in your bio because Sid and I can give a hearty amen. To helping people know that God delights in them. That's like our whole previous book is focused on all of that. So thank you so much for being on the show today, Marlena.

[00:01:18] Marlena: I'm so glad to be here since I've admired you both for a long time.

[00:01:23] Geoff: we, I think you are our first actual by title, like spiritual formation professor. So I couldn't. Not ask you what your definition or working definition of spiritual formation is before we get started, since this is about neuroscience and spiritual formation and kind of putting the two together. And we'll talk more on this podcast about spiritual formation, but what is your kind of working definition of those terms of that idea?

[00:01:48] Marlena: Um, I would say the process and experience of being conformed into the image of Christ, Romans 8 29. Um,

[00:01:58] Geoff: That's good. That

[00:02:00] Marlena: Uh, by a lot,

[00:02:01] Geoff: it.

[00:02:02] Marlena: I'm sorry, the process and experience I had like a mental glitch of being conformed into the image of God while opening ourselves to God's

[00:02:12] Cyd: Hmm. Hmm. I like that opening ourselves to God's grace that that's because that is part of the formation, right? We, the more we are formed in the image of Christ, the more we are able to open ourselves to God's grace. Yeah.

[00:02:29] Geoff: When you say process and experience, like, what do you mean by those? I like those two different words. Hmm.

[00:02:37] Marlena: Yeah. So for a process, you might intentionally say, I'm, you know, I'm going to take time in silence and solitude, or I'm going to go on a pilgrimage or, you know, I'm going to, like Dallas said, I'm going to hold my tongue and practice the discipline. I'm not having the last word in an argument, whatever it is, it could be a variety of things, you know, um, repentance always.

And, uh, Maybe again, fasting from all sorts of different things, substances, whatever it is, um, or just paying attention to your children or family or friends being present in the present moment. I think some of the things are intentional, um, you know, spiritual practices. And I think of it as like a, I tell my students, you know, think of putting oil in a car.

The spiritual practices in my mental picture are the funnel that opens our, us to God's grace. So we intentionally open ourselves to God's grace. But there are things that happen. God has grace even when we're not intentional about it. So, you know, allowing ourselves to be loved well. Um, or, you know, just experiencing beauty and goodness.

You know, God comes into us in a myriad of ways. Just think of Zacchaeus who climbed a tree. You know, that was an experience. He wasn't doing it intentionally, but... Um, you know, like I talk about the way up is down, like he saw God looking up at him, you know, and he was transformed. Um, so I say experiences because, uh, spiritual formation.

I also tell my students could be in a malformative environment, a toxic environment, and that's gonna affect. your formation. So experience is, um, you know, they could be good or ill, even very difficult ones could turn for good. But that's not a pastoral thing to say when someone's suffering, right? I'm not gonna say, Hey, you know, maybe in the end this will work out.

It might not work out. But the experience is, I think Help form us. Just think about the experiences of the disciples walking down dirt roads with Jesus or walking through the fields, you know, picking the grain and the, and the Pharisees are like, why are you eating on the Sabbath? Why are you doing this?

That's an experience. They weren't intentionally think, Oh, I'm going to go work for my spiritual formation. It was part of life.

[00:04:51] Geoff: I love that. So that's like the processes. Are kind of, I don't know, external is not the best word, but they're like the, the practices, the spiritual disciplines is kind of the activities that you intend and set for yourself that funnel God's grace. And then the experiences, um, but then, and I'm going to jump in because I love that you use the word conform.

Cause I know the spiritual formation is just formation, but it's actually being conformed to Christ. So could you, cause that's, so it's not

[00:05:18] Marlena: That's right.

[00:05:19] Geoff: my processes and my experiences, it's like. Jesus. So could you just say one last thing about that being conformed? Cause you, I don't, people don't always use that word.

I always use that word when I define it, but so, so hurrah.

[00:05:32] Marlena: Okay. Yeah. So Romans 8 29 being conformed to the image of Christ. Um, I think the more we become like Christ, The more we can love other people and the earth, you know, be like it, the goal is to become more like Jesus. So maybe, you know, have some people have, uh, translated St. Irenaeus, the glory of God as a human being fully alive, right?

The more we become like Christ, the more fully alive we become, and the more we're able to love other people and more whole. So

[00:06:04] Geoff: I love that. Well, Sid, you can jump in. Cause you talk with clients too about this, but like the reason why I feel like it's important to say, use that conformed word is because like our culture teaches us, well, the way to. Being authentic or, you know, you have to find your true self or you have to, you know, do you, and, you know, it's just kind of like, you are, it's the demands to find out who you really are so that then you can share that with the world.

Um, but I think at least Christian spiritual formation is, you know, about being conformed to Christ. So there's that tension there.

[00:06:36] Marlena: backwards, right? The more you become like Christ, the more you become who you are.

[00:06:41] Geoff: Yes. So

[00:06:42] Cyd: And the more fully free you are to express God in the unique way that you've been designed to express God in the world. And I'm not even going to say God's character or God's love, but just to express God in the world. Um, so yeah, I agree too. It's the kind of, it's being conformed to Christ first that then helps you to really be who you are, who you were always meant to be.

[00:07:05] Geoff: Hmm.

[00:07:05] Cyd: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:07:07] Geoff: so speaking of experiences, then we'll shift to, um, to your more recent book, uh, bearing God, you were, and we can, you know, if you want to, you can talk about this, like, like you, Davina, you were kind of having this spiritual experience while hearing this story, uh, from, I think Mark four about Jesus calming the storm and, uh, but you kind of found yourself in that story.

Absolutely. Absolutely. In a different way. So could you walk us through, uh, both that practice, um, as well as then your experience that you had?

[00:07:37] Marlena: So this is interesting. Uh, Jeff had said, because I didn't intend to have this experience, right? It was an experience that just came upon me. I wasn't trying to do a

[00:07:47] Geoff: Well, you were at like a church, right? I mean, you were at least submitting to the

[00:07:52] Marlena: right, right. So I was listening.

[00:07:53] Geoff: a church attendance

[00:07:54] Marlena: right. That's right. I guess

[00:07:56] Geoff: Hey, let's a low bar sometimes. Hey, I'm just showing

[00:07:59] Marlena: Yeah, I'm sorry. Yes, I was showing up present in the church. It was actually a Catholic church and I was listening to the priest read Mark four where Jesus is asleep in the boat and it was right after my mom had died like a couple weeks afterwards. It was like in July. I think she died on June 27th, but um, 2021.

Anyways, so I was listening and I didn't anticipate anything happening, but then all of a sudden I was just Captured or enraptured by that, you know, the, the story that I've heard many times and, um, I was listening to the story and I'm like, all of a sudden it's like, I'm not the disciples. I'm not the wind.

I'm not Jesus. Uh, you know, it was, I guess, Lexio Divina. I think I've always been that way my whole life. I, I'm not going to go into it right now, but I grew up very poor and I think my imagination was just formed by scripture and nature. So I can talk another day about that. But, um, Yeah. So I just all of a sudden like, Oh my word, I'm the boat bearing Jesus because I was like, and what's that mean?

I mean, I am the boat, uh, you know, with the waves lapping against me with the disciples trying to, you know, the boat from capsizing and wondering why Jesus isn't awake. Um, so I wasn't one of the scared disciples and I wasn't just chilling asleep because I was exhausted from ministry. Like Jesus, I was the boat.

And so, you know, I carried that idea. I was thinking about it. I'm like, Oh my word. I've never had this thought in my life, you know, that kind of idea. I've never interpreted it like that. So, you know, Lectio Divina contemplation, um, just really just listening to the scripture. And I'm always in, when I'm listening to someone talk, I have get like a mental picture.

So, you know, whatever it is, someone's talking about scripture and that's how I remember things. So I'm like, Oh, I kind of picture this and I'm the boat. And then I went home and that night I was thinking about it. I'm like, I'm the boat, but I don't want to go out to sea anymore. I'm tired. I'm tired. I've been through it.

You know, I've been through storms and waves. I just want you to tether me to shore, like the boats I see in a Marina or, you know, in other places. And just let me rest for a while. Um, you know, just let the waves lap gently and as I bob up and down at the boat, you know, um, because I'm just exhausted. Um, I don't want to go out.

I don't want to journey out. I don't want to do nothing anymore. I need rests, uh, from storms and difficulty and conflict. Um, so, and then, uh, the Lord's like, well, Yes, you know, you're meant to rest. But a boat is not to stay at the port. It's to go out like live. You're supposed to live. You're not just to close down, completely isolate and just give up.

You know, there's a rhythm of stuff. You rest. Yes, you rest, but you go back out. Uh, and so, um, there's some people that are out and never rest. And some people that rest and are never out to see actually just doing and experiencing God's will in our life. That was the metaphor of the sea. Like going out on the journey is actually, you know, just walking with Christ and going in the direction that God leads us.

So that was how it came to me. Um, and then I read, uh, you know, a quote that said, uh, the boats. Or ships aren't meant to stay in shore, they're to go out to sea. And I'm like, Oh my word. Like, I'd never heard this quote before, but like a month later, same thing. And I'm like, okay, God, I get your, I get your, uh, message here.

Like, yes, rests. Um, but I was like, God, just make me a tugboat. Let me pull the big ships in. I don't, I don't want to pull out, you know, maybe a canoe, but I don't want to go out there, uh, cause I have put my time in with suffering. And I want, I'm done. So it's not all suffering, but that was my mental state at the time.

[00:11:54] Cyd: Well, I'm sure numbers of our listeners can relate to that feeling, right? I mean, I talk to people all the time who are in that sort of place of like, I am so tired. I've done the things I've, you know, I've been beat up by the waves. I've been beat up by the people in the boat scurrying around on, like walking all over

[00:12:14] Marlena: That's right.

[00:12:15] Cyd: Yeah. Yeah. So I'm, I'm curious. I mean. You were exhausted at that point in your life already. You just lost your mom. So how did you, you know, Jesus usually comes to us when he gives us a challenge like that of like, you're meant to be out. He usually gives us some kind of grace so that we can do it. So how did he work that through for you so that that started to sound like good news to you?

[00:12:41] Marlena: Yeah, that's a great question. And, you know, I just practice, like we all do some of the things that I tell other people. I'm like, I only need manna for today.

[00:12:52] Cyd: Yeah.

[00:12:52] Marlena: I only need to be obedient or fulfill my responsibility. Whatever God is. You know, maybe it's getting the girls, well, that was the summer. So it was like getting the girls ready for school, driving here and there, you know, teaching my class.

I'm like, don't worry about what the bigger picture might look like. That's easy for me to do big picture person, just be present. Which I've gotten better at through practice, right? Be present and just get enough manna for today. Like God's like, don't worry about tomorrow, right? Matthew chapter six. I'm like, I have all these things to worry about or not worry about, but to consider, I should say, I'm moving this, that, and the other.

When my husband got a job, like a thousand things, um, selling our house, um, getting my mom a tombstone, uh, I came from poverty. We still don't have it. I'm hoping to use some money from writing to get that tombstone and my family will pay me back. But, um, anyways, um, So all those things on my mind all the time and as you know, if you're in ministry or service work or you know, Ministries of compassion, you know therapists, whatever you bear a lot of the world because you want, you know, you love you bear each one another's burdens But I guess there's two things said one is like, okay Being in the present moment.

I got smaller,

[00:14:12] Cyd: Hmm. Hmm.

[00:14:14] Marlena: got smaller like I had to say, no, can't do this. Can't do this. Can't do good things. A lot of really good things like

[00:14:20] Geoff: Ha,

[00:14:21] Marlena: or you want to come speak here. I'm like, I can't, um, you know, so slowly. And so I could also finish my dissertation, which I'm trying to finish and finish my exams and classes for the PhD program.

So I got smaller, like my world is a little bit smaller. What I mean by that is like. Even more, more local because that's what I talk about spiritual formation. I'm like, don't talk to me about following Jesus. If you don't love your actual neighbor and the people closest to you, okay, please don't care if you're a good preacher, you treat your family.

I don't care who you are president of a company. And you say you follow Jesus. How did the people closest to you, what is their testimony about you? So I didn't want like people, my daughters say, Oh yeah, mom, always loving other people always out there, but she don't love us.

[00:15:02] Geoff: right.

[00:15:03] Marlena: Thank God my oldest daughter, cause I asked her one day, cause I'm like, Oh, I'm scared to ask this question.

I don't even know if I wrote this in the book. I'm scared to ask my oldest daughter who's now 16 this question, but I'm going to ask it because I was, you know, I'm like, I have been traveling a bit lately. Um, and also taking care of my mom too. I was gone, gone, gone, gone, gone. Our siblings, we cared for my mom.

Anyways. Um, I said, if, if I were to die, you know, maybe you've used this question in classes or whatever. What would you write in your obituary? You know, I asked, I'm like, Oh no, I'm ready for it. You

[00:15:38] Geoff: asked your 16 year old daughter. Oh man.

[00:15:42] Marlena: yes. I want to die.

[00:15:44] Geoff: we had

[00:15:45] Marlena: But I did ask her,

[00:15:46] Geoff: just for the specific reason that we would never get this kind of feedback in our lives.

[00:15:51] Cyd: What are you talking about? We get all kinds of feedback from

[00:15:55] Geoff: No, I know. But like I, we were a little afraid of teenage girls and somehow God, you are,

[00:16:02] Marlena: So yeah,

[00:16:02] Geoff: you have been conformed to Christ way more than I have, because I don't know if I could have done that. Okay. Okay. So what did they, what did you hear? What, what, what came back?

[00:16:12] Marlena: Yeah, I was like, I was kind of scared what I was going to hear. Cause I can think of all the things that I fall short of like all the time. But she's like, mom, I would write that. You loved people and you tried your best to give them, um, like a hand up to help them. You know, like kind of picture myself, not the boat now, but if I'm, if I'm on a boat and I see someone's drowned or needs help, like, you know, I put my hand down and try to get them up.

I'm like, okay. So I am not praising myself because I didn't expect that, but thanks be to God through all the stuff. Hopefully, uh, they see, she's like, you and dad are true Christians. So I'm like, thank you, honey, because she didn't think everyone is. So I'm like, you know, she sees us all the time in the bad and the good.

So I was really, um. I was really grateful for that. But, um, but that's what happens with spiritual formation, right? Like, you don't have to try, like, as you're being conformed to the image of Christ, God's love will flow through you. As we are obedient to that, you know, trust and obey, because there's no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.

I know that's very basic, but spiritual formation allows us to trust and obey more and more. Become like Christ.

[00:17:26] Geoff: Amen. Well, sometimes the most basic things are still always the right things like, well, and God still loves you and God is still with you, you know, like the basic things are always,

[00:17:36] Marlena: Yes.

[00:17:37] Geoff: so you were talking about, Oh, go ahead, sit.

[00:17:40] Cyd: No, I was just going to say, just an offhand comment, sometimes we denigrate like children's songs because they feel too immature or simplistic, but there's a lot of real, real beauty in simple things like trust and obey for there's no other way to be happy, to be happy in Jesus. That trust and obedience brings joy and freedom and lightness.

It doesn't bring burden and obligation and um, so just a side comment. Go ahead, Jeff.

[00:18:09] Marlena: 100%. And I think that's the fruit of spiritual formation, right? Your joy may be complete. It doesn't mean your life is perfect, but your joy will

[00:18:16] Geoff: Oh,

[00:18:17] Cyd: Amen to that.

[00:18:18] Geoff: So you were talking a little bit about. Um, in your specific place, you talk about, um, how God is leading us. Like the reason why we, God leaves, it leads us out of the safe harbors. You know, the Marina, you know, that has the break wall. So you don't get the big waves, right? Uh, God leads us out of that so that we can carry his love to the world.

Right. And so that's part of the

[00:18:39] Marlena: We're bearing Christ.

[00:18:40] Geoff: talk about like, um, Like the physical location, but also your social and maybe, and also your economic locations as being like that part of that specific place. I could, could you talk a little bit more about like that place, you know, that Jesus is leading us to, um, as that place of spiritual formation, where we find God in the midst of all the storms.

[00:19:01] Marlena: Yeah. God's will for our lives amidst it all direction. So. We mentioned my husband earlier. He's a philosophy professor and he teaches a lot of things on ethics and like poverty, you know, all the things that we are concerned about, which I think all have to do with spiritual formation and neuroscience.

And, you know, to me, it's all part of it. Right? Um, and so we talk a lot about, we talked for years and years and years about theology or formation that eliminates the poor. If, if, if someone in the poorest parts of wherever, whether it's America, the Himalayas, uh, wherever, right, if anybody, um, cannot be conformed into the image of Christ or if anyone cannot, if they can't really like read my book and say, yeah, then I'm like, is this just spiritual formation for the middle class?

Like, what is this for, for the rich people that have more leisure time to go to conferences and do things like, thank God that a lot of us can do that, but not everyone in the world can. So, to me, a real litmus test is like, okay, can the poorest person, can what I'm saying to them, your social location or the richest person, right?

But poorest person have, uh, more limited options in the world. Does what I say apply to them or is it just like middle class lifestyle theology from the United States? Um, and so we talk about that all the time, and a lot of the time, I think our theology is like white, middle class theology. Um, there is a univer uh, uh, ways of formation.

There is a universal that wherever you are on the earth, whatever your, uh, status, not that I want someone to remain oppressed or poor, but wherever you are, you can follow God for the direction of your life. And part of the problem when we're talking about location is, other people's sin does have an effect on our ability to go out to sea, right?

Think about the enslaved in the middle passage or, um, you know, I said briefly, I grew up very poor. There's a lot of things I couldn't do. But I did. I guess the loaves and the fish. I was out in nature a lot. You know, I'm, people said, Oh, you were a mystic as a child. Okay, whatever, whatever judgment people want to make.

But I didn't know that was, I didn't know the word mystic until I was in seminary, you know, so I didn't have that kind of language. I'm just like, God listens to me based on reading scripture, being in the church, our little country church. I know God loves me and I know God delights in me. So I didn't have all that kind of like God's, I mean, God going to strike me dead type of theology, the worm theology, you know, you know, Inculcated in my life.

Um, so that I don't have to throw off, but I think your physical place, uh, your location, your job, you know, if you're in a really toxic job environment, whether it's a church or not, that's going to affect your formation and some people I think stay in longer than they should. And I've been guilty of that, but God, I think works it out.

Some of us are slow. Um, but I, I think wherever we are in our social location, Will affect our formations or there are going to be different things that God asks us to do different parts of life the storms It's really going to also take into our literal actual life So like, you know, and I talked a little bit about my brother that my brother loves tractors I remember when he asked me to pray that he could do a thousand sit ups I'm like, Kenny, you should just be in the Olympics, right?

He wanted to be, and he did it or whatever, Navy SEAL. He wanted to be a Navy SEAL. Talk about that in the book, but he ended up deciding to get married instead of being a SEAL. Um, but my point is like, God takes all those things into consideration. God formed me, you know, Puerto Rican in the, uh, uh, poor rural areas of Northwestern Pennsylvania.

where we were like the only Spanish people in the census, right? Like my family. Um, and he used that. He used my little country church. I didn't grow up in Chicago. I, I, my little country church that had 72 people or less helped form me my earliest childhood. We didn't have enough money. This is why I didn't go to a Catholic church is because we didn't have enough gas money to go to town to go to the Catholic church.

So I just went to the local church. So I think that wherever we are, you know, God, God is always coming and God comes to us. Um, and now close it here. One of the things that I tell people, I like, listen, even Muslim people, there are reports from people that have never heard the gospel, have Jesus appearing to them in dreams.

Like, God cares about you so much that He will seek you. Um, you know, all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. God's not going to condemn anyone that calls out to them, wherever they find themselves in whatever situation. And He's not going to kick us when we're down. Even if money is strangling the gospel in our lives, Matthew 13, so it's not just the poor us rich people to

[00:24:00] Cyd: Hmm.

[00:24:01] Geoff: Oh, thank you so much.

[00:24:03] Marlena: find God's will and direction and wherever you're at

[00:24:06] Geoff: Yeah.

[00:24:07] Marlena: with help, communal help.

[00:24:09] Geoff: Well, I just wanna take a minute to talk about the. I will reframe it in my language of it is, do we talk about spiritual formation as like, it's like a bougie middle class kind of like lifestyle choice, like we can kind of add it, you know, uh, and I don't, you don't use a, you don't fill out the metaphor. I don't think this way, but. But I think some people, um, whether it's because of, um, you know, poverty or, or mental health issues, they'll have that sense of like, Oh, I can't follow Jesus, like the normal people.

Um, and there's just to fill out your boat metaphor. It's like, well, no, you can't because like someone stole your motor, like, and then, and then gave you bad sales. Uh, and so you, you know, and then. You know, those other people are writing books or have churches that assume that you have a yacht with like a fully functioning motor, and you can kind of just go anywhere you want at any time.

And meanwhile, you're here, like, I have a ratty like sail that, you know, and I, and the good thing though, is, is those people really do discern the spirit. Like, they're like, Hey. It's only the wind of the spirit that's going to get me here. So even though, and so I am going to rely on God. And so some, um, sometimes our fancy spiritual formation actually leads us away from dependence on God.

Um, so anyways, I just, you know, like we shouldn't, um, yeah, we just need to be aware as we speak about all these things to, um, like you said, like, is this going to fit? Uh, all people, I'd love to, we should probably have you on again. It's to talk just about that. I think that that'd be a great,

[00:25:44] Marlena: Yeah. I wanted to say thank you though to both of you because I'm like the podcast is done. You got it. No, I'm sorry. I'm not calling.

[00:25:50] Geoff: sure.

[00:25:51] Marlena: No, that's perfect. But I do want to say this just to your listeners and to you all, which I'm sure you know this. So people are like, Oh, Marlena, are you going to speak at this conference again?

Are you going to come here? You know, I can't afford maybe now once a year, I can't afford to go places unless people pay for it. Right. So I'm like, I am not going to be at this

[00:26:09] Geoff: Just to hang out.

[00:26:10] Marlena: I'm not going to be here. Thank you for having me. Yeah, I like, I can't afford unless, you know, someone pays for my way and um, and, and I'll be done here.

The only reason I went to the Festival of Faith and Writing every two years most of my life is number one, I lived three hours from Grand Rapids, Michigan. That was the book festival I went to. And how God actually, uh, helped my writing life flourish. And because I have a friend that let me stay for free in Grand Rapids. So, there's a lot of limitations, like there could be wonderful writers or people like you were saying, they like have a, they don't have the same privileges as some other people, and so they can't get to those things. They can't, but I still think, see God worked with me in poverty and brought me to where I am right now that I'm talking to you.

Our circumstances don't limit

[00:26:57] Cyd: Hmm. Amen. Yeah.

[00:26:59] Geoff: Well, and, and we'll kind of just end with this, I think is, uh, I love. The reason I was so drawn to this, like metaphor bearing God, like as the boat, uh, is because it actually lines up with a lot of like attachment theory. And they actually use some attachment theorists will use the language of like, uh, a safe Harbor, um, for your secure attachment relationship that you can go to when you're in distress.

But, uh, the whole point of having. That secure attachment is not just that you were at rest and like chill and know that you're loved, but it's so that you can actually be equipped and resource to go out and to explore the world and to offer your blessing. And so the safe Harper, uh, uh, kind of. It's kind of like the reloading zone.

So you can go in and out. Um, and so as we become more securely attached to God, it's actually, you know, we're able to go on that journey out into the deep waters, uh, get the daily man or the daily gust of wind. Right. Like we don't have to know and have guarantee that we're going to have, you know, all the wind we need to get from here to there, um, just enough to get us out of the Harper and move it.

So yeah.

[00:28:08] Marlena: That's right. And I haven't read attachment theory. I'm not like a therapist or a psychologist. So I guess that's like, uh, that organic attachment theory, spiritual formation, right. That the Lord brought about, but yeah, that makes complete sense to me.

[00:28:22] Geoff: Um, but like you said, in the opposite, if you're always out in the deep waters, you're never refueling, you're going to get burned out and lost. And, and that happens to people too. And I think it's really just, uh, this connection of the contemplative and the active life, um, and how those two things, uh, fit together.

Sid, any last thoughts or questions before we finish up?

[00:28:41] Cyd: No, I just, uh, it's been great to talk to you, Marlena. I would, there's other things that we could talk about, but that's, that would be beginning a whole new episode. So I'm not gonna ask them now, but I just appreciate your voice and appreciate your love. Uh, that's so evident for people, um, and for all people.

And I appreciate that you're being really attentive to wanting to make sure that people like you, um, growing up in poverty are still seeing that spiritual formation is not just something that only rich people can afford or only people that have leisure time. Um, but that God is never stopped by barriers, no matter how big.

Um, so I just really appreciate that message. Yeah.

[00:29:25] Marlena: So much. And if you guys ever want to talk more about that, like Jeff said,

[00:29:29] Geoff: Oh, I will. We'll put that on there. Well, for all the listeners again, this is Marlena Graves. She has written us a great short book, very accessible, Bearing God, Living a Christ Formed Life in Uncharted Waters. And, uh, I'll be sure to put that in the show notes. Marlena, where can people find you or follow you or keep track of the stuff that you're doing?

[00:29:47] Marlena: Yeah. Marlena graves. com. If you want to contact me or look at my books, uh, Instagram and, uh, A little bit of Twitter now, these days, so

[00:30:00] Geoff: Well, good. Well, for all of you listeners too, or if you're watching on YouTube, please like and subscribe and share this, um, wherever it is that you are watching. Uh, you can find this podcast on Spotify, on Google, on Apple, um, and all the other places. So please. Do all the things and share it.

We have no professional publicists, right? You know, we're just people trying to like, hang out and get to know others. So please share it and please, uh, buy, um, Marlene's book and, uh, support her work there too. Thank you so much. And yeah, we'll maybe in a couple of months, we'll try to get another, another episode on.

[00:30:35] Marlena: thank you.