My Experience with Spiritual Direction
Just before I began my book tour, a dear friend of the family (who’s also a priest), pulled me aside one afternoon and said, “Kathryn, do you have a spiritual director?” He had looked at my travel schedule and while it was shaping up to be the time of my life, he also knew the spiritual toll it was going to take on me and my family. His parting words echoed in my heart, “Satan’s attack will be real.”
He wasn’t wrong.
I prayed, a lot, throughout that book tour (which is coming later this week on the blog). God and I had some beautifully honest conversations. The spiritual warfare was intense, though. Many nights I came back from events, sobbing, both in gratitude and uncertainty. Major things were happening with the kids and Scott and I both committed to prayer and the sacraments. I found myself on my knees, much like I was during our NICU days.
Truthfully, it was one of the most spiritually intense few months of my life. Throughout the tour, I felt convicted to find a spiritual director. I had reached out to a few, but for one reason or another, it just wasn’t clicking.
One afternoon, Scott mentioned the name of a priest we both respected as a possible spiritual director, and I was like, “YES.” We chatted via text a few times. Then, I reached out to another priest friend (who also serves as a spiritual director) who was obviously well versed in the subject. He absolutely has the charism of wisdom and I trusted his advice. He reminded me that nothing was permanent. He encouraged me to make an appointment with this prospective spiritual director to see if the fit was there. Did we have the same goals? Did he have the time? Would I be challenged?
Now, I don’t think you have to be launching a book for spiritual direction to be applicable to you. Spiritual direction isn’t like a family doctor, not everybody needs one, nor do you need one your entire life. But I believe there are seasons – perhaps when you’re discerning things that need an additional assist – where spiritual direction can be extraordinarily helpful. My only caution is this: don’t go seeking a spiritual director just because it’s the trendy thing to do. I really questioned, for many months, if this was a ledge I really needed to jump off of in my spiritual life. God sent me some clear affirmation, yet I was still reluctant to act upon it.
Spiritual directors aren’t therapists or counselors. Their primary job is to direct your soul toward Jesus and to challenge you to strengthen your relationship with Him so you may grow closer to Christ. In other words, they don’t have all the answers.
In our first meeting, my spiritual director encouraged me to read this book. And, much of my experience has been echoed and reinforced in the pages of this wise text. I highly recommend grabbing a copy if you’re either searching for a spiritual director, or wondering if you should even start the process. You can also watch this conversation I had with Fr. Dave Dwyer about spiritual direction. So good.
So, how do you find a spiritual director? Ask your friends who currently have one who they might recommend. Ask your priest. If not him, maybe he has a list of possible names. Call your diocesan office and ask for their list of approved spiritual directors.
Then, go make some appointments. Do you feel more comfortable with a lay person or a religious priest, brother or sister? Do you prefer a male or female? Older or younger? Meeting with a potential spiritual director the first time isn’t committing you to a lifetime of direction. You’re just seeing if it works. And, it might work for a while and then you’ll either move on to someone else or take a break from direction.
All of that is individual and that is okay.
I meet with my spiritual director via FaceTime since we don’t live in the same state. We do see each other from time to time (well, not right now, but someday…soon?). We meet once a month and schedule those times 1-2 months in advance. I knew when we were both in tears toward the end of our first meeting that this was a fit.
And I am so, so grateful. I have learned so much about my own spirituality. My fears. My choices. My hurt. My gifts. My calling. It has been an avalanche of grace and I leave every meeting feeling lighter. And it’s not because we don’t talk about hard things, but it’s primarily because we DO talk about hard things that I feel less burdened and tethered more closely to Jesus.
Make no mistake. I have some serious work to do in my interior life. But I’m making progress. Things are feeling more certain, in that I am starting to see with increasing clarity what God is asking of me. I mean, He’s borderline crazy, but I’m choosing to say yes anyway.
It’s like looking forward to an intense workout. You know there’s gonna be pain and challenge, yet you know that you’ll be stronger on the other side. I am indebted to my spiritual director. He is, truly, an answer to prayer.
I’ve chosen to leave his name, and the specific advice he shares with me, private. But please know I’m certainly happy and available to answer any questions you might have that I didn’t address here.
Prayers as you discern your need for a spiritual director, and your search for one!
Kate, This is just what I needed to read. I had an appointment with a Spiritual Director before the pandemic hit, your blog has encouraged me to reach via email. I will purchase this book to help me discern. Thank you for your inspiration. God bless.
Love this! Such perfect timing too, as this current pandemic situation has impressed upon me my desire and perhaps need for Spiritual Direction as everything, especially my vices, seems so magnified! Through the years of having a little direction, but many moves I haven’t had good, consistent spiritual direction, A friend inspired me to read this Spiritual Direction: A Guide for… https://www.amazon.com/dp/1945125683?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share
Which had me praying about finding a director and then came your message today!
I love it when the Holy Spirit gives you a wink!
What a gift that you found spiritual direction! It was never a blip on my radar until it became mandatory during diaconate formation. I’ve been with my first and only SD for five years now and she is a precious gem. Dan is on his fourth SD. Finding a good fit is vital. I think he’s now found a keeper! Thanks for the post.
I tried spiritual direction with a lay person (fully certified, of course) but it just didn’t click for me. We do not have a lot of spiritual direction options where I’m from. It’s sad. But true. I’m glad you’re able to have a helping hand in your spiritual undertakings; I think it’s an important part of our journeys.