Home » New church » On going to a spiritual director and not an ordained minister.

On going to a spiritual director and not an ordained minister.

I’m always a little anxious before I go to see my spiritual director. I had to start seeing one when I was in the process to discern if I was being called to be a deacon in the Episcopal Church. That process was put on hold by the priest in charge when I came back from Cursillo a little more Pentecostal than she could handle. Then I wrote a blog post where I feel that Jesus meant for the Church to be a) not buildings but people and b) not ordained ministers, but everybody, and c) more social outreach than social club. That ticked her off a lot. So I no longer go to church, but I still go to my spiritual director. This was my choice. I get a lot from going.

There wasn’t any help on what to expect when I first went. It is kind of like going to a psychotherapist, but weirder. We talk about my relationship with God and Jesus by talking about my relationship with my husband and friends and job. I’m not sure where we are going sometimes, and I’m not sure I see the connection. But I am sure that every time I finish a session with her I want to come back the next day even though the next meeting is in a month. She manages to uncover things that I didn’t even know were hidden.

Having a spiritual director is weird coming from a faith community that has a hard time saying “I’ll pray for you.” I’m more comfortable hanging out with my Pentecostal friends than my Episcopal friends when I’m in the mood to talk about God’s interaction with my life.

This is a little weird. Supposedly I was part of a Christian church, but we would talk about God and Jesus in the abstract. We didn’t talk about God and Jesus right here, right now. They were characters in a book, not real presences in our lives. They were ideas and archetypes.

My spiritual director is part of this faith tradition, but she says things like “Invite Jesus into this situation” and “Jesus wants to be your closest friend.” She asks questions like “Where is Jesus in this moment?” This is some pretty foreign stuff. I feel like I’m doing it wrong. I feel like I should already know how to do this, how to answer these questions. I feel like I’ve been duped by priests all these years, who have kept all the good bits for themselves and left the scraps for me. I feel like I’m adult trying to learn how to ride a bicycle for the first time, when I should already know how.

I’m grateful for this time with her, and grateful to find someone who can help me. The goal in spiritual direction is “intimacy with Jesus”. This is a foreign concept to me. This isn’t something that I was ever taught in any church I’ve ever gone to. It sounds like a good idea though. It sounds like something I should already be familiar with. It sounds like the whole point of being a Christian – how can you obey God’s will if you don’t know it? How can you know it if you don’t hear it?

The funny part is that the closer I got to this idea of hearing from God, of intimacy with Jesus, the further I had to get from church. The more I talked to the priest about God talking to me, the more she thought I was crazy. The more I go to the spiritual director, the more she wants to hear about these stories and cheers me on. I’ve written about some of these stories in my “Strange but True” section.

Oh – I get it. The priests don’t want you to hear it for yourself. They want to tell you what God says. They want you to be dependent on them. They don’t want to teach you how to hear from God.

It is this kind of control that Jesus came to remove. Jesus isn’t about hoarding power. He is about giving it away. Jesus is a radical. Jesus is a revolutionary. Jesus showed us in the loaves and fishes story that God’s rules aren’t like our rules. There is so much more to how God does things than we can ever imagine. God wants us all to connect to that power and be multiplied. God wants us all to be stronger, more alive. Then God wants us to use that vitality to help others. It isn’t about paying off our mortgages sooner, as one of the “prosperity gospel” liars says. It is about using that strength and power to help people who don’t have homes at all.

4 thoughts on “On going to a spiritual director and not an ordained minister.

    • Yes, I’m learning that there is nothing about being older that means you are mature. Sometimes the biggest five-year-olds I’ve met have been in their forties. It is painful to have to “grow up in public” but it is preferable to not growing up at all : ) I think we all have bits we are working on, parts that weren’t set right when we were growing up. Thinking about that helps me to be more patient with my growth. I’m not alone.


  1. Please remember their are good priests who give away power, empower their communities and seek to guide others into a relationship with god and their are bad priests who don’t. Priests are human beings some are wonderful and some are just jerks and most are just jerks some of the time, just like the rest of us. The problem is when priests seek to put themselves on pedestals. I would imagine that it is a fine line between trying to help people find god and becoming the only way to god. Try a different parish.


    • I have been to many parishes. Sure, priests are human. Sure, some of them realise that. But the problem is deeper than that. I seek a community without the building, and without a leader. This is something that the current Christian Church doesn’t have. The Quakers do this, but there is something else I need that I can’t put my finger on.

      On Tue, Sep 3, 2013 at 2:32 PM, betsybeadhead


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