Spiritual direction takes freedom very seriously. We want to feel free to be the person we were created to be–with as few internal fetters as possible, barriers such as negative self-talk, low self-esteem or dependencies. A spiritual director is trained to notice where you may not be as free as you want or need to be.
Some examples of a lack of inner freedom would be:
Wanting to change careers but fearful of what your family will think.
A crippling need to please everyone around you.
Holding a religious belief that creates anxiety within you.
Here are 5 ways spiritual direction can promote inner freedom:
- Identifying what holds you back. As you share experiences from your life, a spiritual director may notice places where it appears you are constrained in some way. Our job to direct your attention to those places, and we are trained to do this in kind, non-threatening ways so that you feel safe.
- Offering space for you to sit calmly with those inner blocks. Spiritual directors are in no hurry. We’re not trying to fix anything because there’s nothing broken! Everyone at one time or another has felt a lack of inner freedom. We all live with places in our life where we don’t feel free—even those of us who feel free most of the time.
- Helping you accept your lack of inner freedom in a particular situation. While you are working on greater spiritual freedom, it is helpful to accept, without judgment, those feelings of un-freedom. The famous psychologist Carl Rogers used to say that only by accepting yourself as you are will you be able to change. The spiritual director will model this acceptance by being a non-anxious presence as you explore where you don’t feel free. Radical acceptance of ourselves as we are is powerfully healing–and freeing!
- Helping you explore your options for freedom. Open-ended questions like “how do you want to feel in this situation?” and “what would feeling free in this situation look like?” encourage the directee to tap into his or her own reservoirs of wisdom for solutions in any binding situation. The spiritual director may share how others have found freedom in similar situations.
- Suggesting prayer practices that draw you closer to God and to greater freedom. There are many ways to connect with God and feel freedom. One helpful practice is to recall a time in your life when you felt truly and deeply free. Let the memory take you to that feeling again. Ask God to be in that memory and to help you know and understand inner freedom in your life. Once you know what inner freedom feels like for you, it is easier to discern which choices in life lead you to that freedom.
We were meant to be and feel free. Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians (5:1) that “it is for freedom that Christ sets us free.” Competing voices in our lives (some which live solely in our heads!) will gladly tie us down if we let them. If you are having trouble being free enough to follow the way of wisdom, entering spiritual direction may help you find the freedom you desire.
Are you interested in being in spiritual direction? I have openings in my schedule for new directees—regardless of where you live. I can work by phone or Skype or if you live in the Phoenix metro area we can meet in person. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.teresablythe.net. Also visit my website for the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Direction.
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