I was introduced to the idea of spiritual direction about 15 years ago. I had been grieving over miscarriage after miscarriage, begging God for a child, frustrated with my lack of control over my greatest desire - to be a mother. I did not ask for spiritual direction. I did not seek it. It was a gift. My mother arranged a meeting with a certain priest for confession, and encouraged me to be open as this priest was known for adding spiritual direction within the Sacrament. It was the beginning of a transformation, as I have been blessed with this priest as my spiritual director for all these years.
God knew what my soul needed before I did. He generously provided and continues to provide His grace through His instrument (the priest), surprising me with His wisdom and helping me to look at the events of my life through His eyes. Trusting that this priest is an instrument of Christ Himself, I find myself pouring out in great detail my struggles, my fears, my joys, my frustrations, my questions. I am honestly surprised with some of the answers I receive and the answers bring me such joy, reminding me that God’s ways are not my ways. The direction reminds me to take a rest from over-analyzing my ways. I am continually shown how when I do not discern His will, I can be an obstacle to God using me to share His love. Thanks to God's grace, I can stand in truth in the Sacrament of Reconciliation with someone who knows my soul. It’s funny, I can spend so much time talking with this priest while confessing my sins, seeking guidance, asking questions, only to discover I have nothing much to say when we walk out of the reconciliation room. I really trust that it is Christ reaching out to me in those moments, that the priest is truly His instrument.
I am a shy and introverted person, and many times spiritual direction is provided on the phone. I put off scheduling meeting times for various reasons: I don’t want to bother the priest, I haven’t made any “progress” since our last talk, I don’t know what to talk about. But I find that God continues to seek me out, as many times, the priest will email me, asking how I’m doing. Or he’ll happen to be in town. Or my mom will suggest calling him about a certain issue I may be struggling with. I truly believe Christ is expressing His great love for me when He is present in the guidance I receive. I feel so humbled that this gift was provided for me by God Himself. I know many search for a spiritual director and are unable to find one. God shows His love, as He searches me out.
As a Control Freak struggling against tendencies toward perfectionism, I am tempted to distrust God’s love for me. And I am finding out that the less I accept God’s love for me, the less I am able to share it with my loved ones. I find myself loving so conditionally, criticizing weaknesses of my loved ones, holding them to high standards. I find myself dissatisfied with myself, and so I know that God uses spiritual direction to remind me of His great Love for me. A favorite Scripture verse of mine is 1 Jn 4:19 – “We love because He first loved us.” I tend to ignore Him, reject Him, distrust Him. This Lent, my hope is that I will allow God to love me. Within the arms of my Blessed Mama, I ask for Her grace to help me accept God’s pure Love for me. God recently arranged a phone call with my spiritual director, and I discussed my thoughts about what I could be doing for Lent – giving up sugar, praying more, going to more daily Masses…etc. He reminded me that Lent meant “slow down”. Instead of my grandiose plans, he suggested that I be more present to Jesus loving me, pouring His mercy upon me. This Lent, I can ask myself, to where am I rushing and why? Instead of rushing I can think of ways to slow down. I am reminded to relate everything to Redeeming Love. Quite simply, I can SIMPLIFY this Lent.I cannot give what I haven’t accepted. So, in the arms of Our Mother, I ask Her to help me let God love me (as I am).