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So let's take a look at the benefits of spiritual direction. As a spiritual director, I gently and habitually return our focus to an intimate, moment-by-moment friendship with God. It is only this friendship which holds the power to transform. It offers to us healing, fulfillment and joy. The ministry of spiritual direction is effectual as it opens the door to this transforming friendship.
I can best describe the benefits of spiritual direction by sharing about my own experience. The things I have gained are typical fruits of this form of soul care. Your story will be your own but I hope that my story will envision you about the benefits of spiritual direction and clarify what you can expect to gain from this journey.
Elizabeth's Spiritual Direction Story
My first 5 years of seeing a spiritual director were a season of remarkable personal and spiritual growth for me. The regular appointments, once a month or so, assisted me in becoming more intentional about my spiritual life. This intentionality opened me up to God's work within me, work which he had perhaps wanted to do for some time but was patiently waiting for me to be ready to listen and able to receive. The benefits of spiritual direction? Here's the view from my life.
A quieted soul I was in a state of breathlessness when I first arrived at the home of my spiritual director, a Franciscan sister. I was right in the middle of a season full of exciting new initiatives. In a state of exhaustion, I shared with her my desire to learn to 'still and quiet my soul'. My husband, who had attended a Franciscan high school, assured me that I couldn't have gone to a better source to find help with that. He was right. It was a challenge to head out on this path toward stillness, but it is a path I absolutely knew I needed. I was confident it would be worth the effort to break my pattern of non-stop activity. It was. Forging a new path of stillness has produced rich and lasting fruit in my life.
Increased self-awareness Self-awareness won't develop as long as I am constantly running from one activity to another. I need to stop and listen if I am to know God, to know myself, and to grow in understanding how I relate to the world. Spiritual direction helps me to turn my spiritual eyes toward God to become more aware of his presence, both in my life and in the world around me. This awareness opens up the door to increased responsiveness to God. And that makes room for growth in becoming more like Christ. Awareness...responsiveness...growth, that's quite a package. Opening it up holds some risks but oh is it worth it!
Healing of hurts and brokenness Healing is made possible through the experience of God's grace. My spiritual director consistently poured big portions of grace over me and over my perceptions of the circumstances I was facing. Gradually I came to see myself, and to see others and my circumstances increasingly through the eyes of grace. I learned to bring my woundedness to God who continues to heal and transform it, and who enables me to extend his grace to others.
Claiming my true identity One of the most priceless gifts of the past 6 years has been claiming my status as a beloved daughter of God. It has required some effort to silence the voices of my history and to break the many patterns which weighed me down. I've learned to recognize my false selves and have stepped into living from my true self. It's fabulous to walk in the freedom of living the true me. There's nothing like being (and becoming) the person I was created to be, knowing myself as dearly loved, and being formed to be more like Christ--even with faltering steps--on this road of transformation.
Learning how to tend well to my soul There are endless ways to tend to the soul. They vary with our personality and the season we're in, but what stays constant is connection in relationship with the One who has given us life. Spiritual growth and abundant living are unattainable unless we tend well to our relationship with God. My path of spiritual direction has guided me into many enriching means of keeping my relationship with the Holy vibrant and ever developing.
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