Thursday, April 7, 2016

Spiritual Direction

Have you thought about finding a spiritual director? At first, I tried to make this post on how to and why to find a director. Instead, I'm just going to give you my experience with it.

Not sure why, but ever since I was young I’ve always thought it’d be a good idea to have a spiritual director. Maybe because my mom has one, maybe because I love to analyze the way my brain works (sometimes scary!). At the different retreats I’d been to there were opportunities for direction and I took them. Looking back I’m a little surprised by this because I never really liked taking advice. I guess the Holy Spirit was helping me get over that.

My first attempt to find a regular director was on jury duty. A priest happened to be on the jury and he gave me direction over our lunch break. How cool is that? I was 19 and getting all kinds of negative advice on why I shouldn’t get married so young and I needed help. I think the best thing about spiritual direction isn’t being told what you’re doing wrong or need to do better, it’s being told when you’re on the right track. I definitely needed that and the priest was very logical and comforting. The direction was helpful but due to his schedule it didn’t become a regular thing.

After another failed attempt at a long-term director, my husband suggested one of the priests he knew from Walsh. One of the ways I’m trying to become a better wife is trying to take advice when Alex gives it. I’m so glad I did! I’ve been going to this priest for over a year now and it’s been so helpful.

He’s semi retired so he has the time to meet with me once a month and he’s even expressed that he enjoys being able to meet with me and it’s encouraging for him to see someone trying to grow in their faith. I ask him questions about faith matters, I open up about hurts and struggles, I ask his advice, and I always walk away feeling encouraged. The most helpful thing he does is listen. I can talk to him about issues in a way that isn’t gossiping. Instead, it’s talking through things and getting advice so I can act in the most loving way possible. This is especially helpful when issues come up in my marriage. There are just some things that I feel like I can only tell this priest. He may be a 70 something celibate man, but he’s a counselor at heart and simply put, he gets me. Alex and I even went to him for help with discernment when we had the option to move to Brazil to be missionaries. I thought he’d be diplomatic and give us pros and cons and tell us to pray about it. Instead, he listened to us talk about it and how we felt and he told us not to go. We listened, and I’m so glad we did. Sometimes it’s so helpful to be told what to do!

I guess what my point is here is to tell you that it’s worth the effort to find a good director. Don’t be afraid to ask, and don’t be discouraged if your first attempts don’t pan out. Keep trying! It doesn’t have to be a priest, just find someone who is a natural counselor and is firm in the teachings of the Church. It may feel awkward at first but it soon feels normal with the right director. Pray to find a good director and then once you find one, pray for them!

~ Kathryn Mathis

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