The focus of spiritual direction is to nurture your life with God, to help you to find your way back to your God-intended true-self, and to champion your unique engagement in the world that flows out of your soul’s rest in God’s love.
I have written about what spiritual direction is and isn’t, and for whom it is and when is an especially good time to start working with a spiritual director. You might be still wondering what benefit it brings and why you would want to engage in spiritual direction as one of your spiritual practices.
Here are four ways you can expect to be encouraged when meeting with a spiritual director:
1. Develop healthy rhythms and space for silence, solitude, and stillness
Silence, solitude, and stillness are disciplines that we must invest time in if we want to mature, be healthy, and grow in our trust in God. Although they seem like practices that are done alone, outside of a community, a companion(s) and a spiritual guide are needed if we are to stay on this path. Not only will a spiritual director encourage us to make room for silence and stillness in our life, but he or she will also facilitate this during a spiritual direction session. A meeting with a spiritual director can be the first step for us in building moments of silence into our life-rhythm. In silence, we learn to listen to God, our own souls, and the realities of our lives more closely.
2. Cultivate an increased awareness of God, self, and others and your responses to them
I never realized how much of my life (especially interior life) went unnoticed by me until I started meeting with a spiritual director. One of the greatest gifts of spiritual direction is that it nudges us to consider God’s work and voice in all of our life. A prayerful, slow conversation with a spiritual director will help us to better notice how we respond to God, ourselves, our life circumstances, and others around us.
A spiritual director might invite this kind of knowing by asking questions, such as:
- How has God been present for you in recent weeks?
- When did God seem to be absent?
- What activities, relationships, or spiritual practices have been particularly meaningful to you in the recent past?
3. Grow in love, grace, and freedom for the sake of others
Growing in self-awareness and experiencing God’s unconditional love will increase our capacity for grace, both for ourselves and for others. Considering the life of Jesus and his loving presence in the details of our lives, brokenness, sin and weakness steep us into a deeper reality of the Gospel, and truly the good news that it is for us and others. A spiritual director can offer a safe place for taking off our masks, and affirm how loved and desired we are by the Father God in the middle of all the mess and tears.
4. Move toward integration and acceptance of the whole self
The more we see different pieces of ourselves (the good and the ugly), and parts of our lives (the glorious and the broken) and come to accept them as they are, the more we can move toward inviting God into those areas and ask him to do his work of restoration and free us to offer the world the gift that we are. There is nothing in our lives that God cannot redeem, restore, and use for His glory. An important part of spiritual direction is to discern what kind of story God is writing with our lives and how we are engaging with it.
While each life is unique, there are also many commonalities in the Christian spiritual life. We feel less alone when we are able to share our doubts, joys, passions, frustrations, and disappointments to a soul-listener who identifies with and understands our delights and struggles that are part of a normal journey of growing in love for God.
Finally, spiritual direction does not make us more spiritual –we already are deeply and wholly spiritual. What it does is that it helps us to recognize, name, and discern our spirit’s responses to the presence and work of God’s Spirit in the specifics of our lives.
There is much more that could be said about the benefits of spiritual direction. If you have in the past or currently are receiving spiritual direction what would you add to this list?
If you are curious to experience engaging in spiritual direction, feel free to get in touch with me. I would love to explore with you. I am also able to refer you to other directors if that seems a better fit. (Please scroll down for a contact form.)
Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship and Direction by David G. Benner
Listening for the Soul: Pastoral Care and Spiritual Direction by Jean Stairs