My path to spiritual direction and how God used it to change my life.
Updated: Jul 7, 2020
In 2007 my husband could no longer ignore the calling God had placed on his heart to become a pastor. We were both very involved in our church. I was on staff as the Director of Growth and Learning and he was the praise team leader. At this time we had been married for 13 years and we had three children ages 9, 8, 6, two girls and the youngest is a boy. My husband's job was going really well and we had just purchased a brand new home. I loved my life! We had friends and family close by and a wonderful church community. But, I wanted to follow God and I was excited to begin this new adventure so I was willing to give all that up. I had no idea when I said yes, what I was going to lose and what I was saying yes to. That is probably a good thing because if I knew what lay before me I may not of said yes.
My husband is a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and there is quite a process to go through to be considered for rostered ministry in our denomination. The first step is to become "Entranced." This means that a committee has discerned you can begin your seminary career. My husband was entranced in late 2007 so we decided to put our house on the market in 2008. We were both so excited to be following God's call!! Our children on the other hand were not as enthusiastic. I just knew God would take care of everything and we were all going to be great! Why wouldn't God take care of everything?? I was giving up the life I loved for "Him" and I knew everything was going to turn out fine.
Fast forward to November 2008, we moved to seminary, the kids were having a tough time adjusting to their new school and environment. I was working a job that I hated and the loss of friends, family and my church was beginning to take its toll on me and all of us. We did make some very good friends at seminary and that was such a blessing. I don't know what I would have done without them! We all agreed that seminary was not what we expected and did share in the struggles of trying to reorient our lives.
By the December of 2009 I was really depressed. Everything I thought about who I was, who God was and how my life would be had fallen apart. I couldn't believe that I gave up everything for God and I felt God just hung me out to dry. I felt I was being sacrificed so that my husband could follow God's call and God didn't care that I was suffering. My husband was ready to leave seminary because I was so miserable. Yet over my dead body, was I going to be the reason he did not become a pastor! Thankfully we got some help. We went to a counselor which was so helpful. He was able to help me articulate my loss and help me feel that I wasn't crazy for feeling the way I did. I am forever grateful that my husband insisted we go and that he loved me so much he was willing to give up his dream for me. I am glad it did not have to come to that.
Early 2010 the Spirituality Network of Columbus, OH came to the seminary and hosted a busy person's retreat. My husband brought home some information about the retreat and what the Spirituality Network offers. As soon as I read the materials I felt like my soul had found its home! I felt an instant draw that I could not resist. The Spirituality Network offered many opportunities for different types of prayer, classes on Feminine Spirituality, Spiritual Direction and a Spiritual Formation and Direction program. As I read more about the Spiritual Formation and Direction Program, I knew within my heart and soul this is what I wanted, needed and longed for. I was so grateful their next class was beginning that fall and even though I was past the deadline to apply, they let me send in my application and accepted me.
My husband and I had been trying diligently to complete seminary with as little debt as possible. Yet I knew this is what I wanted and needed. So we agreed to cut back my hours at work and get federal assistance so I could pursue my calling as well. It was very hard to make that choice. I was always of the mind that if I could work and pay my way, that is what I should do no matter what. I also knew that if I kept on my current path I would die inside and miss a chance to do something for which I felt called. It was very humbling and eye opening to go the the Department of Family Services and apply. Thank God we did! Not only was I able to go to school but that experience gave me a whole new perspective on people who I "thought" were not like me. Now I know we are all one and to make someone the other only hurts yourself and allows you to live in a way that is divisive not inclusive.
Wellstreams is the formation and spiritual direction program of the Spirituality Network of Columbus, OH. It is a three year program that include faith formation, human development, prayer practices, deep listening skills and a practicum for spiritual direction. I had a mentor and a spiritual director and peer supervision, plus the community I needed within the other students. I learned that nothing is wasted with God. What I had experienced the previous two years was necessary for me. I needed to lose what I thought my identity was and what my idea of God was, in order to really discover my truest self. I know I will never comprehend the mystery of God but my image of God has grown and expanded. I had to lose my life to find it. My spiritual director, mentor, classes and classmates gave me the space, freedom and grace to explore, question, learn and the confidence to trust my inner wisdom. Because I have had these experiences I am more compassionate, understanding, forgiving and loving. That is why I feel so called to Spiritual Direction. I know the change it has made in my life, my relationship with God and my relationship with others. If I can hold space for someone to discover who they are, how God is present and working in their lives and how much they are loved and cherished then I feel like I am fulfilling the call God has placed within me.
I graduated from the Wellstreams program in 2013 and have has the privilege to offer spiritual direction to others. It is truly an honor and blessing to companion others on their life journey.