Spiritual Direction Story
When I discovered spiritual direction I had been a Christian for a while. I had done Bible studies and had been in leadership in church. But I had come to a point where I was searching for something more in my spiritual life, but I really wasn’t sure what that was. I felt a longing, this desire for something deeper, more meaningful. I began to wonder, “Is this it for me? Is this the place I’m going to reach with my spiritual life?” I believed there had to be more. My soul was searching for a deeper intimacy with God. When I heard about spiritual direction for the first time, my soul lit up like a Christmas tree, because I knew that it was what I had been looking for.
The first time I met with my spiritual director, I could see the Holy Spirit was with her. Having someone sacredly listen to me was so peaceful, comforting and reassuring. I had never experienced that before. It was a holy surprise. The quietness of it was also a surprise. It was okay to just be with her and not feel the pressure to have to say anything, do anything or be anything.
“When I heard about spiritual direction for the first time, my soul lit up like a Christmas tree, because I knew that it was what I had been looking for.”
I have seen a couple of major transformations in my life since being in spiritual direction. One is that prayer has taken on new meaning. I used to have this long list of things and people I wanted to pray for, and I felt awful and guilty if I didn’t do it. One day in spiritual direction, I was telling my director about it. I don’t remember what exactly she said, but essentially, she recommended that I turn over my list to the Lord, acknowledging that He knows all of the things that need my prayers. I thought, “Yes, that’s what I’m going to do.” So, in the morning, I took that list, put it under a candle and said to Jesus, “Lord you’ve got these people; You know everything.” Then if the thought of someone bubbled up within me, I prayed for that person at that time. Through this process the burden of this list was lifted off of me, and I felt so much freedom.
So I’m now fascinated with prayer. I love talking and reading about prayer. I’ve come to understand that prayer is basically how I communicate with God, and I think that’s the whole key. I was reading a quote by William Barry who said, “Prayer is any time you feel the Lord’s presence in something.” So I could be playing with my dogs on the floor and be so joyful and thankful, feeling God’s presence in that, and that is prayer! I could be frying bacon and just the smell of bacon would make me so happy that I thank the Lord!
I have felt the freedom to experiment with different types of prayer. Everyone’s soul is different, so everyone communicates with the Lord differently. My physical body has to move first before I can be still. So I go on a prayer walk and then I can come home and really be quiet. But I’ve had some of the best talks with the Lord on my prayer walks when my physical body was actually moving.
“I had a vision that Jesus and I were walking together inside my soul. He would take a light and shine it up into dark places in my soul where I didn’t want to go.”
So those are some of the ways my prayer has changed due to spiritual direction. Before, I wouldn’t have tried any of these other ways of praying. My time with the Lord is just different; now it could be anywhere, anytime. So my prayer experiences just grew, because that’s basically what we talk about in spiritual direction is our prayer life.
Spiritual direction also affected my view of God. I had been taught some wrong beliefs about God the Father. I saw Him as a provider and protector, but also a punisher. Because of that, God the Father was just elusive for me in prayer. I could sit with Jesus, but times of prayer with God the Father felt punitive. About two years into spiritual direction, I had this vision that Jesus and I were walking together inside my soul. He would take a light, while holding my hand, and shine it up into dark places in my soul where I didn’t want to go. One of those dark places was my belief about God the Father. Jesus said, “I’m right here with you. I’m going with you. We’re going together. Don’t be afraid.” So over time, I became less afraid of the vastness of God the Father and the largeness of him. And the image of God the Punisher just melted away.
So those two things—prayer and my belief in God the Father—have been the most transformed through my experience with spiritual direction. Spiritual direction has also helped me learn to shut up a lot, which isn’t easy for me because I love to talk! I love to process out loud and to give people advice. But it’s made me a better listener. It’s made me want to be a sacred companion for someone else. Because of the richness I’ve been given from the Lord through direction, I want to give that back to others. I’m passionate about accompanying other women on their journey. I believe that’s from God, too.