One of the common things in the coaching community is the transient lifestyle that occurs either by choice or force. This lifestyle can feel very unstable.
Tsh Oxenrider writes of 9 months of travel and community in her newest book At Home in the World:
“By staying in one place for a month or longer on our travels, we burrowed into our surroundings and invested in neighbors, even if only for a little while. We stayed put—in a nomadic sense, anyway—long enough to cultivate relationships unshielded by the next great thing to see, the next place on our itinerary.”
“The nuns at Our Lady of Mississippi Abbey say that by taking a vow of stability, they are ‘resisting all temptation to escape the truth about ourselves by restless movement from one place to the next.'”
I find myself drawn to these words in relation to our experience with coaching. We have felt like nomads a time or two. For our family, the difference between withering and flourishing has been the opportunities taken to cultivate relationships in the present while placing the “what if’s”, “where” and “when” questions to the side. This can be especially challenging in some situations. For example, when you stumble upon a social media post about how your husband needs to be replaced…but that is a subject for another post.
The Vow of Stability
“By our vow of stability, we promise to commit ourselves for life to one community of brothers or sisters with whom we will work out our salvation in faith, hope, and love. Resisting all temptation to escape the truth about ourselves by restless movement from one place to the next, we gradually entrust ourselves to God’s mercy experienced in the company of brothers or sisters who know us and accept us as we are.”
This Vow above, taken by Trappist Monks and Nuns is what Tsh was referring to in the quote above. I can’t help but wonder if entering a new community, team or season might carry a different meaning if we first took the time to consider a version of this vow.
Commit to One Community
When we move to a new school we leave behind all clothing and items that have the logo of the former team. My kids have applied this act in their own ways. When we left a certain college one son was so happy to leave he not only refused to wear anything with the former team logo but went so far as to refuse to wear anything orange or black which were the school colors.
This is a common practice amongst my coaching friends. A favorite item may be kept to wear around the house or on vacation, but never in public. Our community roots begin with our new team, and they deserve our support 100%.
We Work Out Our Hope
Every football season begins with a clean slate. Every August hopes are high and energy is contagious. August is the month when a team is most unified in many circumstances. They are all in it to win it.
Fans of a team will band together with enthusiasm and positivity. That is until things don’t go perfectly. Injuries, discipline, and losses occur. This is where faith and love come in. A true community will look at a sports season from all angles, not just game day. They will band together and hope for progress and success even if that doesn’t equal a win on the field.
“Resisting all temptation to escape the truth about ourselves” is actually something most coaches are great at. They have to be because they receive a significant amount of unsolicited opinions regarding their coaching and recruiting. A great coach is constantly asking themselves where and how they can improve and then taking steps to do so.
There are coaching families I know who have moved three times in a calendar year, and others who have lived in the same place for 20 plus years. Most coaching families move around every few years.
Our moves have been steps of obedience. Even when things didn’t make sense we have packed up our homes, said our goodbyes and hellos. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t tried to hurry a few transitions along. The aspect of The Vow of Stability that has been the largest area of surrender to me has been this: “Resisting all temptation to escape the truth about ourselves by restless movement from one place to the next, we gradually entrust ourselves to God’s mercy experienced in the company of brothers or sisters who know us and accept us as we are.”
Learning to gradually entrust ourselves to God’s mercy experienced in the company of others will be a lifelong journey for me. Learning to bloom where we are planted was the first step towards making choices out of a posture of obedience and surrender. The thing that has made this worth the heartache is the brothers and sisters we have lived life with along the way. When you are accepted as you are life feels stable.
The Coaching Family’s Vow of Stability
By our vow of stability, we promise to commit ourselves to be fully present in our home and in the current community of brothers or sisters God has placed us in while also understanding distance does not define lifelong friendship.
With our mutual community, we will strive to deepen our faith, hope, and love in Jesus and each other and those we are called to serve.
We understand we cannot be our best by ourselves and loving correction and accountability is a two-way road. Restlessness will not cause us to leave from one place to the next without God paving the way and attempting to bring those dearest to us with us.
We daily strive to entrust ourselves to God’s mercy experienced in the company of brothers or sisters who know us and accept us as we are, an in-person community is necessary and important and will be treasured regardless of duration.