Is God really with me? With us? What’s he doing?
Lord, I want to know you more.
These are words that might echo in you as you start 2021. After a year like 2020, many of us are digging in deeper to the questions of life, carrying loads that feel heavy and hoping for better. As you consider your next best steps into this year as you follow the Lord’s invitation, that might include spiritual direction. I wrote about what spiritual direction is last fall (you can find that post here), and today I want to offer some thoughts on why direction might be good for you.
Spiritual direction fosters your relationship with Christ.
Jesus tells us “I am the vine, you are the branches,” and it is our connection to his life within us that produces fruit of joy, peace, self-control, love, gentleness, and patience. It is also within us that we hide our scary truths, which often block our connection with life, preventing our flourishing, and the flourishing of kingdom living. We yearn for more connection, not knowing what blocks us, wondering what prevents this intimacy. Spiritual direction is a space to safely wonder—and discover.
Perhaps you have faithfully participated in, even led, the various essentials of church life: bible studies, prayers, worship, service, yet find you are yearning for more, secretly wondering if this is all there is. You could be disoriented by the revisions to church life that 2020 forced upon us and are trying to hang on to God in the midst of it.
Perhaps you struggle these days to know deeply and personally the love God has for you, maybe you always have, maybe this has changed as you forged your way through 2020.
Perhaps you are one who has hit an impasse with God, and are simmering with anger and confusion, needing to process it to reach the peace he promises.
Perhaps you are at a crossroads or a crisis and desperately want God’s accompaniment and guidance.
Perhaps you simply love God with all your heart, mind and strength, and look for all the ways you can live into that love.
A director accompanies you in all these places, listening and holding you in faithful attention, allowing and assisting you to know God in the midst of it all. It is a place where we often hear ourselves more deeply, and thus encounter God in us. We can discern and follow Christ with more trust as we encounter him.
Spiritual direction is nourishing.
Lest you think it is only for those in crisis or confusion, spiritual direction helps us notice, savor and deepen our experiences of God’s graces at any point in our journey with him. I like to think of it as deep fertilizing. Plants do best with a soaking fertilizer every few weeks to strengthen the plant’s stems, green its leaves, and flesh out the fruit. Direction deepens and nourishes our roots. Spiritual direction is deep work, often delving into the dark, where the fragile tendrils that support our being and doing thread their way through our souls. This is a place that requires steadiness, perseverance, and intention to seep and sink into the truths that lie beneath the soil line, into the places that are out of sight, and found by instinct, feeling and faith. Jesus dove into our darkness to bring us into his light, and he does the same through spiritual direction. With great love, we enter the vulnerable places—in faith that Christ is there waiting for us, allowing him to teach and change us from the soft roots up to the leaf tip.
Spiritual direction increases awareness of God and self.
Spiritual direction is not an application of someone’s teaching, or an imposition of rules, guidance, and program. Rather, it is a process of discovery and discerning, finding freedom and fullness in the God who made you and loves you. It is good for us because it is individual and unique to you and your relationship with God—I say “us” because as you discover and discern your personal relationship with him, you are more able to fruit and flourish, gifting the world the person God made you to be. Month by month, as you are seen and heard, you see and hear God and yourself, deepening, anchoring, sustaining your soul through all that you encounter in your life. You are not a programmed Christian, but a living, unique image of God with the light of Christ shining through you. Especially for Christian leaders, it is a space to be authentically you with God, not your roles or your expectations. It is a space where you can be human—in fact, are encouraged to live into your humanity as you discover the divine indwelling in you.
Spiritual direction assists transformation.
Jesus’ good work he began in you, in us, is something he contributes to every day. Our lives change as we journey with him, and we change more and more into the person he created us to be if we follow him. Spiritual direction is especially good at discovering and enabling your freedom and expression of Christ in this world. It brings you into his presence and transforms you in deeply personal ways.
These are some of the macro ways that spiritual direction is good for us. The micro are always found in the individual stories that we live, and are vast and myriad. If you are curious, have questions, or feel you want a spiritual director, contact me or another director. To reach me, you can respond to this post or email me using the contact form. To reach other directors I recommend looking at SDI, Spiritual Directors International at sdicompanions.org. You can filter your choices there by religion, location, and more.
I pray you are enriched this year in the Lord’s love wherever you find yourself and in whatever you are experiencing.