My most fit friend used to constantly wonder, “There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t exercise. So why don’t I have a daily quiet time with God?”
Invariably, every time I’d think, “Boy, I can’t do either!”
You know how a lot of people say they’re spiritual but not religious? Unfortunately, I’m neither very religious nor very spiritual. Yet I’ve been in ministry for 23 years and a follower of Jesus since age 3.
Let me clarify. Although others probably view me as both religious and spiritual, I don’t see myself that way because I’m just not that good at what most consider religious or spiritual activities: prayer, worship, contemplation, Bible study reading, meditation. . . About the only spiritual disciplines I’m good at are ones around community—meeting people regularly and talking about things that many religious types wouldn’t consider spiritual or religious at all.
All to say, this has been a hang-up for years.
On Sunday I begin the Selah Spiritual Direction Training program to learn how to become a spiritual director.
AM I CRAZY??
The program sent out bios of my new cohort. I joked with my spiritual director, singing that Sesame Street ditty, “One of these things is not like the other. . .” Not only am I the only person of color, but everyone else reads like they’re extremely spiritual AND religious.
Even my new pastor said recently (in a very nice way) that spiritual direction seemed not within either my personality or gift mix.
Case in point: we were given a reading list. Susan, the director of the program, encouraged me to “Chew on the readings.” They weren’t fast food, but deep spiritual truths that needed savoring. Jesus used a lot of agricultural imagery because growing in God and maturity just takes time, patience, a lot of sun, water, fertilizer, and trusting that God somehow creates a crop.
I really wanted to chew very very slowly. But despite the free time of my sabbatical, kid issues, high school graduation, helping my kid get a job, taking my parents to see their siblings, incessantly making photobooks before the coupons expired, all conspired so that I found myself a week before the deadline cramming spiritual books as if I was back in college during reading period.
I’m sure the other spiritual directors in my cohort weren’t the types who crammed in college. . .
Despite doing it all wrong, which seems to be the story of my life, spiritual and otherwise, I really loved the readings, even if I read them really really fast. The main thing I got is that the goal of spiritual direction is to help folks identify the grace, love and activity of God in their lives.
I personally have always appreciated how much grace my spiritual directors have given me despite my constant confessions of how unspiritual I’ve been since our last meeting. I thought I was just lucky to get really nice spiritual directors.
Turns out, that’s the whole point of the endeavor! That’s what they were supposed to do!!
Because spiritual directors are just trying to reflect God—One who receives us, showers love and grace on us, picks us up and walks out with us into the world.
I think I knew that.
So I’m looking forward to learning how to be a spiritual director this weekend. I may not be very spiritual and I may have crammed the readings, but I’m ready, willing and eager.
And I think that’s all God asks.