Friday is here, which means my weekend has officially begun! (Clay works 4 ten-hour days and is off every Friday.) Today, I plan to spend most of my day at Starbucks because on Sunday I’ll be teaching a one-time class at my church on spiritual direction, and I am not nearly close to being finished preparing for it! What is spiritual direction, you might ask? Well, very simply put, it’s a type of relationship a person has with someone, a spiritual director, whose focus and purpose is to listen, pray, and walk alongside that person in their spiritual journey. A spiritual director is someone to talk to about the every day realities of your relationship with God, your prayer life, discernment in decision-making, hearing God’s voice, etc… The focus is on listening to His voice and the movements of the Spirit in the heart rather than a time of instruction, Scripture interpretation, or problem-solving. Contrary to what the title might suggest, meeting with a spiritual director isn’t like meeting with a guru or someone who literally directs you on where to go and what to do… rather, it is rare that a spiritual director will even tell you what to do or how to deal with something. The role is much more one of coming alongside, listening, and praying while discerning what God is doing in the heart of the directee, letting the Spirit do the work of transformation and change. This usually happens in a one-on-one relationship but can also be translated to a group experience. Spiritual direction was a part of my Master’s degree training, and I’m really excited to have a teaching platform to share at my church about this type of underutilized ministry.
So, to Starbucks I will go in a couple of hours. To sit by myself in glorious silence with a cup of coffee and my laptop. Ah, bliss! Over the past couple weeks I’ve gone by myself to a coffee shop a couple of times to work on the class since I can’t concentrate during the day with the kids running around and I can’t make myself work on it at night when I’m so tired all I can do is flop on the couch. And the funny thing? I SO should have been doing this a long time ago, class or no class! Sitting in the quiet, out in a public place by myself, slowly enjoying the world around me and the feeling of being an adult with no one in close proximity who needs me to feed them or wipe their butt. (I don’t know about other moms, but by the time Friday rolls around I’m ready to the heck out of dodge! I love my kids, but I get really tired of them crawling on top of me, screaming at me, whining at me, and waking me up early in the morning!) It’s been so rejuvenating for me! My darling husband is always so supportive in whatever I need, and after hearing how life-giving this time has been for me he suggested that Friday can regularly be my day to take time for myself out of the house and spend the day doing whatever I want. (yessss!!!!)
And the other cool part of being by myself to think and prepare has been that God has really been doing a work in my own heart concerning my place in the ministry of spiritual direction. Spiritual direction and spiritual formation, the life of the Spirit in the heart of a Christian and the process of conforming to the image of Jesus, is what I spent two years studying and living in seminary. Six years ago. And in those past six years, I think I’ve kind of been running from it. When I graduated my only immediate plan was to move back to Memphis and get married to Clay. I needed to get some kind of job to help support us, especially when it was Clay’s turn to go to school, and I was only 23. I was very aware of my limitations, and I didn’t feel ready or qualified for any kind of ministry job. That aside, I was trying to make my way in a community that had no understanding of what I’d been doing for two years, most people thought that I was a psychologist. (I’m not!) I didn’t really have the energy, ambition, or inspiration to do the job of educating everyone around me, especially church leaders, about what kind of ministry I’m called to do and why although they’ve never heard of it, it’s actually a pretty significant missing component of the modern Protestant church. Not to mention doing this within a tradition that is very wary of a woman doing anything other than women’s and children’s ministry. At that point, I kinda just wanted to be married, enjoy my husband, and live a less intense life. Then, I suddenly found myself pregnant, and all of a sudden my life as a stay-at-home mom began.
In little bits along the way I’ve tried to incorporate what I learned in school in relationships and groups, but I never had any sense of my place in the life of the church. I felt very limited by my lack of maturity and experience, while still being consistently frustrated at the lack of attention to spiritual formation and true spiritual community happening in the Church. Over the past couple of years there have been times when God very specifically had me re-learn something that I learned the first time around in school… yet this time it went deeper. My maturity and experience was finally starting to catch-up a little bit. I know I learned it the best I could when I was 22 and in school, but I was definitely limited by my age. (and knew it at the time)
But now, I’m finding myself drawn to those same things that I experienced years ago, and as I prepare for this class, my soul is being renewed. God is working. He’s been giving me confidence that I can actually have something to offer in ministry and understanding that this type of ministry isn’t really based on me anyway. Spiritual direction is a ministry of the Spirit, and it should be His voice that guides and directs, not mine. I’m older and have a little bit more experience as an adult in the church, and I can see the vast, gaping hole in the life of the Christian individual and community that is the need of this type of ministry. God is inspiring my imagination to envision what He could do through me and what kind of role I could play in drawing others closer to His heart. Out of nowhere He sent me someone who has asked to meet with me regularly for spiritual direction and I’m finally owning my role in the Church as a spiritual director. I’ve also been googling, and apparently I’ve had my head in the sand of motherhood because there is quite a thriving community of spiritual directors in the Seattle area! I plan to find my own asap (I’m kind of embarrassed that I haven’t been meeting with one all this time!) and explore what kind of relationship I can have with those who are already living this out.
I don’t know where God will take this, but He has truly changed me in the past few weeks as I’ve started really focusing more on this class I’m teaching. I’m excited, I’m renewed, and I’m energized to live out what He has called me to. The process began eight years ago, but I feel like I’m finally growing into it. I’m finally growing into the person I started becoming eight years ago…. or rather, I know God has been slowly shaping me all this time, but I’m just now ready to start taking action to becoming the kind of person I want to be in ministry. I’m ready to put myself out there and teach, listen, pray… to walk alongside others in their spiritual journey. I’m ready.