The goal of spiritual direction is to answer the question, “What is the intent of God for this person at this time?”
There is a story in the Gospels of a rich young ruler approaching Jesus, seeking spiritual direction. As the story goes, Jesus looked on him with love and said, “One thing you lack… sell everything you have and give it to the poor… and come follow me.” (Mark 10:17-27)
In love, Jesus delivered an honest, direct answer for what was keeping this man from fully experiencing God. (Specifically, greed.) This wasn’t a condemnation, but truth spoken in love. This wasn‘t a rejection, but an invitation to a new way of living. When Jesus said, “Come, follow me,” it was the call of a rabbi to a disciple. The first step in this journey was an awareness of the things preventing him from seeing himself, seeing God, and loving others. Unfortunately, the man rejected Jesus’ offer, unwilling to let go of the thing holding him back.
The process of spiritual direction is like this story. To grow in awareness of God’s presence and movement in your life, you must also grow in self-awareness.
Augustine wrote in his work, Confessions, “How can you draw close to God when you are far from your own self?” John Calvin opened his famous work, The Christian Institutes, with a similar thought. “Without knowledge of self, there is no knowledge of God.”
We will focus our opening conversations on learning to see yourself more clearly so you can see God more fully. Your life IS the content.
St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, was a highly influential theologian, leader, and writer. Among many other spiritual practices, he developed a daily rhythm called “The Examen.” When working through the Examen, a person reflected on the joy and sorrow they experienced that day. The goal was to notice God’s presence and acknowledge whatever emotions you felt that day. For our first session together, I want you to take that same concept but map it up over the past year.
Print out the document below and spend time in solitude, reflecting on the past year. In what events, experiences, or relationships did you experience joy? Where did you experience sorrow? Come to our meeting with the page filled out, ready to share!