There are a plethora of descriptions out there, and each one is a little more complicated than the last! But the most common aspect of them all is the idea of “coming home” to a significant relationship with God. Spiritual direction is the practice of joining and helping others in the adventure of doing just that. “Spirituality” from a Christian point of view is about humanity in relationship with God. It’s about our beginning far from Him and the process of moving ever closer. Think of it as our invisible soul in union (friendship) with the invisible God.
So, spiritual direction is simply about helping people reestablish that relationship with God. It’s about helping people grow closer to Him, which in turn affects the way they live. It’s about the pursuit of health for your soul. About learning how to really live! We’re helping people build soul-health – knowledge, endurance, resilience, and strength – to possess the life they want, and were meant to have, which is a life with God.
Spiritual direction is about two people walking together toward the same goal… but I’m getting ahead of myself…. and I’m writing something predictable… Here’s my reasoning for the predictability. Most people don’t know what spiritual direction is so I thought I’d better start out being as clear as possible. Fair enough?
So, consider thinking about spiritual direction like this:
Imagine that you want to get more fit, build some muscle, lose a little weight, trim those pecks, sculpt those glutes, build a six-pack… You get my point. So, you find the needed finances in your budget and make an appointment with a personal trainer. Your trainer soon makes it clear that discipline, exercise, habit, routine, determination, commitment, and pain are all necessary. Some things will have to go to make room for the new. In order to break through to the next level of performance or health, it’s going to take some tenacity and exertion, and you’re going to need help.
A spiritual director does something very similar to a personal trainer… but for the soul. The goal is to break through life limitations and into a new level of familiarity with God. Like a personal trainer, a spiritual director is a workout partner that pushes us to excel, to reach for more, to meet our potential, to get ride of any weights that hold back the progression of our relationship with God. They’re someone on the same journey, pursuing the same goal, working toward the same achievement. They’re a little more fit than we are and humbly show us how they got there. They’re encouraging, even pushing us to come up to their level, and then surpass them. They celebrate our fitness and selflessly want for us to eclipse them, to break through to a new level in our struggle to know God deeply and follow Him fully.
Some things will have to go. The “baggage” we carry from our past with their hurt and pain and the bad habits and reactions (sin) that have developed because of them. A spiritual director will help us see those relationally “unhealthy” habits we currently have, root them out, and leave them behind. Our horizontal relationships are inseparably entwined with our vertical relationship with God. Improve one and you improve the other. In fact, a spiritual director will focus on your relationship with God knowing that a meaningful and satisfying life and relationships flow from a healthy connection with God.
I guarantee that it’ll require discipline(s), exercise, habit, routine, determination, commitment, and pain! Your spiritual muscles need to build capacity and your heart needs the benefit of a cardio workout in order to remain true to the King till the very end.