Heather Bickel Stevenson
Spiritual Direction Story
Participating in spiritual direction has had a profound impact on my life. I specifically remember one direction session that ministered to me and has helped me minster differently with others as a result.
I had been meeting with my spiritual director, Sally, for a couple years (over the phone since we are long distance) when this particular incidence happened. I was working as a nurse at the time at a very busy clinic in Philadelphia and was doing home visits with all of our patients living with HIV. I had scheduled to talk with Sally over my lunch break. I pulled off into a parking lot and quickly gave her a call so I wouldn’t be late or miss any of our time. I had been rushing all day, felt extremely tired, overwhelmed, and really was just longing for quiet!
After saying hello to each other, Sally invited me to take a few minutes of quiet, which is how we normally begin our time together before I start to share. I was so thankful for the space of some quiet. My thoughts were so scattered, and I thought to myself. “I don’t even know what I am going to share today. I haven’t even talked with God at all, and I have so many thoughts spinning in my mind.”
“I had been rushing all day, felt extremely tired, overwhelmed, and really was just longing for quiet.”
As I reluctantly ended our time of quiet, Sally asked what I felt like I needed during our direction time that day. I rambled on and on about my day, the fullness of life and the lack of quiet. I talked about how I longed for more quiet in my life.
In response to my ramblings, Sally offered me a profound and deeply loving invitation. She said “Heather, how would you feel about just taking the time we have set apart for our meeting today to just be quiet? I will stay here on the phone and will be holding you and this space, and you can use the time to be quiet.” Tears started streaming down my face. I felt so loved, heard and understood. I knew that she had listened to the Spirit. What a gift! We spent the next hour in silence. I spent it praying, reading Scripture, probably napping for a few minutes, crying and just resting. We ended the time in prayer, and then our meeting was over.
As I look back, I realize that this experience freed me up to come to God and be quiet. It taught me that He is happy to listen and just be with me; I do not always have to be doing, doing, doing. It helped me to experience His love and acceptance of me, just as I am.
“There are times when the most loving thing I can do for someone is to not talk and to not ask questions. Just be quiet and listen deeply.”
This direction experience also impacted my relationship with others. I had always thought that if I was seeking to love someone that I would be talking or asking questions. But I realized through this incidence that there could be times when the most loving thing I could do for someone would be to nottalk and to not ask questions. Just to be quiet and listen deeply. This has influenced how I relate to directees as well as to friends and family. It has even affected how I relate to my husband. He is a quiet guy, and he loves quiet. As I have learned to be comfortable in the quiet, it has helped me to give him more space and quiet.
I feel enormous gratitude for the ministry of spiritual direction and the beautiful-hearted woman who consistently listens to the Spirit as we meet together. Each time, I have loved Jesus more fully as a result. My meeting with Sally is the highlight of my month. I treasure the gift of being listened to deeply. I am powerfully shaped as a directee and a spiritual director through our times together.