At its best, spiritual direction can help you become more aware of where God is active and moving in your life. It’s designed to help you savor and remember God’s goodness and discern how it is you are being invited to follow God into a broken and hurting world. Spiritual direction is also helpful for people moving through tough spiritual questions that arise when your image of God is malformed or arrested in time, or when someone is recovering from past religious abuse. Questions and doubts about a powerful religious experience are welcomed and nurtured in spiritual direction.
One of the most helpful aspects of spiritual direction is assistance with discernment. Christian spiritual discernment is most simply described as “making faithful choices.” It involves listening—in prayer and reflection—to insight from God, insight from our intellect and insight from our bodies about a choice we are facing. Listening in silence for clarity around a question is a key component of discernment. Spiritual directors, especially those trained in discernment processes, make excellent sounding boards for people facing important crossroads in life.
Finally, spiritual direction can be a wonderful complement to psychological counseling. Although some psychologists are attuned to the spiritual aspects of life, most are not trained as spiritual directors. Some counseling patients find they want to take certain insights from counseling into spiritual direction for exploration. This works well as long as it is understood that spiritual direction is a complement to therapy, not a replacement for it.
In our next session, “what spiritual direction cannot do for you.”
For more about spiritual direction as I practice it, check out my website. If you have questions or comments about the content of Spiritual Direction 101, please let me hear from you in the reply section below.