I was lucky enough to be asked to be on a panel of Spiritual directees and directors last week answering questions on what the practice of spiritual direction is all about and what it could be in people’s lives.
There were good questions and good discussions. I wanted to post the answers to the questions I got beforehand – they made me think so I thought I’d share them!
What is it about Spiritual Direction that drew you into becoming a director?
I came to spiritual direction quite by accident. I didn’t know the woman I had contacted about meeting to talk about potential career directions for me was a director. And as we talked and she listened, she was able to show me that the longings I had in one area of my life were in fact connected to who God was in all of my life. And I remember weeping with that freedom that comes when you start to risk believing that God is in it all with you.-not in a lip-service way that I had gotten accustomed to, but in a most true way where all of my self, even the hard parts, were brought into the presence of God’s with-us-ness. And I think that it was the memory of that freedom that led me to explore being a director. The gift that being in spiritual direction was to me, and how instrumental this relationship was for my own healing in so many ways, was what I longed to be able to give away as well.
I think too, the practices of a director–the listening, the discernment, the making space for who God is to that person through different forms of creative prayer, through the sharing of stories and the long-term nature of the direction relationship all are practices through which actual transformation can happen within. Because its safe and its based on love—the love of God for the individual and the love of director for that same individual. Having someone “For” you is a powerful, powerful place for transformation to take place.
How has spiritual direction been a gift to you from a director’s perspective?
One of the many gifts that direction as a director has given to me has been how I get to witness the many ways God IS in people. When you start taking seriously the gift of God within each person and what He might be doing in that individual life, you see that God and his ways are so much bigger than your own experience might have told so far. I think of Ephesians a lot lately (I really like to talk about this) but you know in Ephesians where it talks about the manifold wisdom of God being made known through the community of believers, the church, I see this as a gift of seeing the multi-faceted ways that God reveals himself, his truth and his wisdom through each life and each story. Its so much more than I could ever come up with just through my own experience. In that way, what is an intensely personal and un-public ministry is actually a ministry that reveals in a deep way the manifold body of Christ as each one of us and our stories and our understandings of who God is is found to have a place in His Big Story.
What is something that is challenging or difficult for you about being a spiritual director?
In some ways, it’s the same thing as the gift. Because I will come up against ways of being or thinking that are not mine and that are maybe triggers for me. And stepping back from “what I think and what I want to say” to this person and reframing it as “what is God saying to this person in this situation” is a practice and a hard one of always looking past my own biases to what is “most true” of God and that person in that situation.
And I think it is just plain hard to remember that I, in my position as a director, do not fix anything. I am not in charge of the outcome of anyone’s life but I am called to walk with them as they listen to God and that’s a hard practice in our world and culture and Christian culture of “I’ve got the solution for you!” That said, there is this way that God’s answer to us walking with him is always wholeness. When a whole life is opened up before God, the good and the dark, wholeness is usually an outcome. He really likes making that happen.
Who do you think can benefit from Spiritual Direction?
Everyone. I think its important for people in leadership to have a place they can be honest with their fears and doubts and biases and big and small weaknesses but also to have someone who can recall them continually and in ways that are real in their lives to remember God’s bigger truth—that He is doing the work of reconciling and redeeming and we are just lucky to get to be a part of it and be a witness to it.
And I think that spiritual direction is for misfits – which is to say, its for all of us. Because we all at times feel at odds with our stories, how they are shaping up. We find ourselves at odds with our expectations of ourselves and others. We all at times, are on the outs of a community and don’t know where we fit. We all at times are far from a place where we can hear the true things about ourselves and about God and so we all need that place where we are lovingly reminded and our stories are retold to us in the language of our creator – which is the language of our real world, incarnated lives.