Suzy Brugger Kanode recently graduated from Eastern Mennonite Seminary where she also earned a spiritual direction certificate through the Summer Institute for Spiritual Formation. She serves as an elder in a new Mennonite church plant in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and works part time as a client advocate at AVA Care of Harrisonburg.
Are you going to keep going to a spiritual director your whole life? This question was posed to me after the end of my spiritual direction and seminary training. It was asked by a person who has never experienced direction of this sort and wondered why I would pay someone monthly for the rest of my life because, surely, God and I can get everything figured out long before then. In other words, won’t I run out of things to work on in my life with God?
This was a perfect opportunity to explain the value of ongoing spiritual direction. “No,” I replied, “I will not ever get everything figured out with God.” Even if I learn helpful principles and spiritual practices, there is something unique that happens in spiritual direction. In addition, I would rather have a companion on this journey than try to go it alone.
As an introvert, I spent most of my life keeping things to myself. I preferred to think about things rather than talk things out with others. I felt stupid when half-formed thoughts popped out of my mouth. But through work with my spiritual director, I learned, in a safe environment, that it is immensely helpful to verbally process what’s on my mind in the presence of another(s).
I cannot tell you how many times the “lightbulb” has gone off while speaking with my director. Between Spirit’s presence, focused attention and good questions, I hear God more clearly than at nearly any other time. My journals are full of insights and challenges that I’ve received during direction.
Some days, receiving direction is like getting a tetanus shot. It hurts! Being confronted with things in my life which are not in alignment with the Lord of Love is uncomfortable. But what a burden is lifted when I am able to release those hindrances and find freedom.
Some days, receiving direction is like a fuzzy blanket wrapped around me on a cold day. I am reminded of who I am: Beloved Daughter of God.
The goal of spiritual direction is not so much to figure everything out, but to spend time with God in a unique way that profits not just yourself, but all with whom you share life. It is a gift that at times feels indulgent but is born out of necessity. God is who our hearts yearn for, whether we consciously recognize it or not, and spiritual direction is about connecting with the lover of our soul.