Almost from the start of my Christian journey I’ve wanted to know God’s will for me. I desired a clear message that would let me know I was on the right path, that I was being faithful. I dismissed my own faculties of discernment, convinced that any conclusion I reached on my own couldn’t be correct. I’m not God, after all. I sought a voice from the heavens to tell me what to do and point me toward the right path.
As of today, I still have not heard God speak to me audibly. But I have learned many ways to recognize God’s voice in the world, and I know there are still many more ways that I have yet to encounter. One of the most meaningful forms of connecting with God has been through spiritual direction.
Spiritual direction is an ancient Christian practice. It is a relationship between two persons – a seeker and a guide – meant to help the seeker grow in awareness of God's grace in everyday life. The spiritual director helps the seeker recognize God's "still small voice" and encourages the expression of growing intimacy with God in creative and life-affirming ways. My spiritual director helped me discern a call to seminary, and eventually ministry, and has continually facilitated me noticing where God has been at work in my life. For a few of my friends, spiritual direction is a place to ask questions and explore their doubts. For others, it is a space to simply be in the presence of God with a guide who is willing to sit with them.
I encourage anyone who has questions, doubts or curiosities about their faith to consider spiritual direction. You can meet with a spiritual director individually or in a group. BMPC partners with two spiritual directors through the Middleton Counseling Center: Patricia Danzon and Betty Wright-Riggins. You can learn more about Patricia and Betty by clicking the links on their names.
If spiritual direction does not seem like a good fit for you, please do not fret. There are many ways to connect with God in addition to spiritual direction. This truth is illustrated beautifully in a short vignette by Leo Tolstoy titled, “Three Monks on An Island”:
“Three Russian monks lived on a faraway island. Nobody ever went there, but one day their bishop decided to make a pastoral visit. When he arrived, he discovered that the monks didn't even know the Lord's Prayer. So he spent all his time and energy teaching them the 'Our Father' and then left, satisfied with his pastoral work. But when his ship had left the island and was back in the open sea, he suddenly noticed the three hermits walking on the water ‑ in fact, they were running after the ship! When they reached it, they cried, 'Dear Father, we have forgotten the prayer you taught us.’”