Has anyone out there had the amazing experience of Spiritual Direction? If not, PLEASE, PLEASE find yourself a Spiritual Director! If I had had any idea of how life-changing Spiritual Direction would have been for me, I would have been in Spiritual Direction since…forever!!!
I had been thinking about Spiritual Direction and had been curious about what it actually was since I started Regent College in 2011. Somehow, academics and life kept me too busy to enquire further but in May of last year, I finally felt the nudge from God and the suggestion that it was time – time to look into my heart relationship with Christ. After four years of intense academic theology which was absolutely fantastic and vital for understanding myself, God, and His relationship to His children, I realized that my focus was not where I had hoped…or where God wanted it to be. I had been brought to Regent VERY, VERY clearly by the hand of God…but not for purely academic reasons. I had never been an academic, in fact I ran from any kind of idea of higher education. I think this is why, when God led me to Regent, His main explanation was that it was to get to know Him better. I had no idea what this would entail, so for the first time in my life, I started something with no real agenda. That certainly made all the difference in the world for hearing what God wanted me to do and in learning what He wanted me to learn. Then I hit a wall. I was losing track of where God wanted me to be…I’d been sucked into society’s call to finish what I’d started – an MA in Theology, and had forgotten about deepening my spiritual relationship with my Father. This is where God gave me a nudge towards Spiritual Direction.
After my first session with Mark over Skype, I was a changed person. I was so incredibly excited to be in this experience where a great Christian person listened to me, understood me, prayed with me, and guided my listening to what God had been and was saying to me in my life. I was pretty much euphoric after the first meeting and couldn’t wait for the next. I was in a place where I could have a heart relationship with God…not just a head relationship and it felt fantastic. Since then, Mark and I have met on Skype, eight or nine times. I can not wait to talk to Mark each time – he is so ready to listen, so ready to share, to guide my thinking…but not in a “this is what I think” kind of way but in a way that opens my ears, eyes and heart to what is going on in my life. He helps me to hear God speaking to me. Somehow, by the Grace of God I presume, Mark really hears what is at the root of my concerns or questions. He understands and he knows exactly what to say to have me get to what is really on my mind or in my heart. Sometimes, I go into a session with something in mind to talk about and somehow, I end up learning more from that one “simple” anecdote I had to share, than I could ever have imagined.
With Mark, I feel spiritually safe. I feel I can be me. I can share exactly what is bothering me, questions I have, ideas I have. Through him, my ideas are clarified so I may move on with them, or leave them in the past. What has been remarkable, is how Mark has seen in me things I have been unable to see. In July, he commented that “one day you may want to go into Spiritual Direction”….and I ran with it. My heart started pumping faster, my eyes opened wider and I thought – “What a fabulous idea!” And here I am! Just last week, I was talking to him about Social Justice and how I want to be more involved with the less-fortunate but certain situations, such as walking down Hastings Street would really scare me. He honed in on my fears, my desires, and somehow we ended up talking about prison ministry. From there, we re-oriented my approach to prisoners and prison ministry and from that moment on, my eyes popped open, my heart started racing, and all I could think about was Prison Ministry. The man is a genius!! (and an incredible disciple!) So now, I have added to my reading collection “Prison Ministry: Understanding Prison Culture Inside and Out” by Lennie Spitale, and I am totally transfixed.
As I have become more and more aware of God speaking to me and living life from my heart, my focus has most definitely changed. I really have no interest in continuing my academic studies at this time. I don’t have a need in my heart for a grade or MA at the end of my name. I want to know God and have a personal relationship with Him. I do not see that being through academics now and He keeps closing doors to that area of my life. As doors close, others open and these are definitely doors to hospitality in a variety of forms. God introduced me to two books that have been very influential in my decisions of what to do in this next chapter of my life – “The Other Six Days” by Paul Stevens, and “Why You Can’t Be Anything You Want to Be” by Arthur F. Miller. The former made me adamant about the need to live a life in Christ 24/7, not just on Sunday; and the latter helped me realize that, as I had expected, my vocation is one of hospitality – It is a vocation I have been living out my whole life. It is a vocation built into my DNA – my paternal grandfather and his ancestors ran inns and hotels. My paternal grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-aunt ran a tea house and entertained soldiers on shore leave. They took them around town and fed them a few square meals a day. My parents too are constantly entertaining people and being hospitable to the less fortunate. It really couldn’t be any clearer!
Our dog Daisy, enjoying some hospitality!! Photo by Heather VW
In addition, I have now started writing a blog www.alightedpathsite.com which helps me to process what God is doing in my life. I find it very therapeutic and “hospitable” as many people seem to appreciate it.
Being more aware, listening and HEARING better, has made all the difference in my life. I know God is talking to me every moment of every day. He’s preparing me for what lies ahead, he is comforting me, leading me, holding me…I no longer feel alone. I no longer feel like I am responsible for my life’s decisions. God has it all under control and now I have the tough work (but not nearly as tough as figuring it all out) of listening and obeying. You know what though, I love listening. I love being attentive to what God has in store for me today. I love seeing Him in action each day. I love smiling each day because that smile now comes, not from something I did, but from what something God did for me. It comes from my heart. Way deep down where He resides.
In His Name, for His Glory,