Taking a journey can be exhilarating, especially in a beautiful, wooded area like the wooded road above. My husband and I took a hike in a state park near our home to get out and enjoy nature. We didn’t take a map or water as we intended to stroll a short path and be gone less than an hour.
That hour’s journey turned into four hours in the woods as we took a wrong turn. Since we didn’t have a guide or a map, we couldn’t exactly tell where we were going. The signposts along the way were not as clear as they could be and in the woods it was easy to lose direction. We thought we were good at relying on ourselves for the journey but realized having a map, a compass for direction and some markers along the way could have made a much more pleasant journey. The afternoon got later and later and darkness was coming. We felt we would sometime run out of park but wasn’t sure if darkness or the end of park would come first. Luckily the end of the park came first and we could then hike back to our car on the road where we could see where we were going. The path was much freer and clearer in the light.
By learning and participating in spiritual direction, I am finding my journey to freedom, peace and joy becoming like the hike on the road – freer and clearer in the light. I discovering I am more of a performing and people pleasing self – a false sell. I know very well what other people may want from me. However, with spiritual direction I am discovering what I need for my own heart to grow authentically and how God has created me to be.
Spiritual Direction is the journey of the heart towards God. It is the strong invitation to pay attention to God and the feelings that give us feedback about what we really believe about God, ourselves and our faith. This journey, I have discovered takes time, work and tears, yet the freedom and peace on the other side has been so worth it. My own depression and anxiety have lifted because of my work in spiritual direction.
What is Spiritual Direction?
Spiritual Direction is:
- Opportunities to grow and be more open and willing to receive God’s goodness
- Ways to notice and accept the longings of our hearts, which reflects the desires of God’s heart for us
- A process to choose the authenticity of our true selves
- Companionship along the journey to the heart of God
Spiritual direction extends an invitation to us to pay attention to our feelings. According to Alice Fryling, in her book, Seeking God Together, “Stressful feelings are like the “fix engine” light on the dashboard of a car. “ and it’s time to look under the hood. God gently calls us to Himself and with the help of a spiritual director, we can begin to notice our unconscious interpretations.
As I grew up, I was the “perfect little girl.” I got a lot of attention for being that little girl so therefore I couldn’t let anyone see the “real” me because they might not like me if I wasn’t perfect. I knew God loved me ( my thoughts) but I kept performing for Him as if I had to be perfect. That took enormous energy to hide my negative feelings which played a big part in causing my own anxiety and depression It wasn’t until I felt He delight in me and called me His Beloved, that the walls around my heart began to crack and my depression began to heal. I no longer had to be someone else. I could be authentically myself. I am still on the journey to discover what I need and how to ask for it.
What about you?
Have you been hiding your feelings for a long time, even from yourself? Have you been telling yourself you shouldn’t feel this way? Where is a safe place for you to explore your thoughts and your feelings so that God can touch your heart and soul?
If you would like to explore an introductory spiritual direction session and the conversations that can transform your heart, you can contact me. You can think about an issue you are processing, and we can explore your feelings about it and bring it to God for direction.