My heart is pumping. I have no idea what to do with my hands... Where do they go again? Across my lap? Behind my back? A camera begins inching closer to my face as I speak. The producer asks me another question and all I can think about is- Good gracious! How did I get here?!
In 2012, my first directee asked me to be the directee's Spiritual Director. At the time, I had only been a Youth Minister for one year. I was completely shocked and felt miserably inadequate to fulfill this significant role in the directee's life. My own Spiritual Director is so inspiring, wise, loving, and faith-filled, and I just couldn't fathom how I could possibly be to others what she has been for me- a source of healing, guidance, and support on my spiritual journey towards God. All I can remember saying is, "Me? Are you sure?!" When I spoke to my Spiritual Director about what had happened and my total shock, she gently reminded me that God calls us on amazing missions and to have no fear for God gives us everything that we need to do His will. She was right.
After several months of discernment, I decided to receive more formation in Spiritual Direction and Theology in general. I desired to strengthen and develop the gifts God has already given me so that I could truly honor this newly found call. As I gained more knowledge and understanding of our amazing Catholic faith through the Master’s program in Pastoral Theology, I grew in confidence and in God's providence to guide me every step of the way.
After each passing year since I first received the call to be a Spiritual Director, I was subtly affirmed that this was truly where God was leading me. Young adults would frequently stop by my office in need of spiritual guidance and counsel, increasingly more youth leaders would ask me how to strengthen their prayer life, and surprisingly, even people I had not spoken to in years would find themselves across from me in times of despair.
God was continually showing me through each person that came through my office that I had a gift for Spiritual Direction and that the decision I made to receive more formation in Theology was not in vain.
It was now August of 2015 when I finally accepted wholeheartedly the role of Spiritual Director, and it brings me so much joy to see how God has been working in and through others to help me build this Spiritual Direction Ministry.
I continued to keep the ministry in prayer, and the more I prayed, the clearer God's voice became. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I knew what my next steps were- complete my degree and start writing.
As soon as I put pen to paper, the requests came including one from Catholic TV. One of the staff at Catholic TV saw one of the blogs I had posted on a social media site and asked if I would be interested in being interviewed. This was just last Thursday, May 5! I felt just like how I once did when my first directee asked me to be their Spiritual Director- Say what now?! Me?
The next challenge was getting to Massachusetts where the interview would take place, and low and behold, I was already going to be in Maine for my graduation on May 14! It was only two hours away! We quickly scheduled the interviews for Tuesday of this week, and the rest of the story you already know.
For those who struggle in their faith, they may see all of these events and call it coincidence and nothing more, but for those who see with the eyes of faith, it is hard not to notice God's hand in it all!
So I ask you- How is God working in your life? Where do you sense He is leading you?
If you are not sure, here are a couple of tips:
Let the Holy Spirit guide you!
If you have become an avid reader of this blog, you might be wondering why it is that I always begin with the invocation of the Holy Spirit. Good observation! Throughout the Bible, You will find that the Holy Spirit is truly the One who works in and through us if we allow Him to. In Matthew 4:1, we are told that Jesus was "...led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil." In Acts 16:14, we see that "...the Lord opened her (Lydia's) heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying," and St. Stephen, the first martyr of our beloved Church, was "...filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55). These examples clearly reveal that the Holy Spirit is a true Friend and Advocate who proceeds before us, already working on our behalf to make us more receptive to God's will and more importantly, His Divine Love.
Have you ever seen the movies where the main character sees a flickering light/butterfly/fairy which usually ends up guiding them out of a treacherous mountain/dark cave/creepy forest, etc.? The Holy Spirit is akin to these kinds of entities- He guides and inspires us to follow the light of Christ wherever we are and in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in. When we ask the Holy Spirit to show us the way, listen carefully because He already has the path mapped out for us!
When I was trying to understand what God wanted me to do with the gifts He gave me, it was the Holy Spirit that drew my attention to what I enjoyed doing the most- helping others strengthen and develop a personal relationship with God, accompanying others in both their times of sorrow and joy, and sharing our beautiful Catholic faith with those He is calling me to serve! The Holy Spirit was the One that helped me realize that all of these gifts were essential qualities of being a Spiritual Director. The conversation went something like this, "Alright, Holy Spirit. I know now that you are calling me to be a Spiritual Director, but how is this suppose to happen?!" In silence, I sensed that the Holy Spirit was calling me to attain a degree in Theology, and then, get to writing.
If you are presently discerning what God's will is for your life, invoke the Holy Spirit, and He will guide you!
Thy will be done....not ours
God can only work through you if you allow Him to. Why? Because God is a gentleman! He will not force His way through our hearts or coerce us to love Him. After all, true love is faithful, fruitful, total, and free (Humanae Vitae; Theology of the Body). To love another person is a choice that must be made with complete freedom. I mean think about it- there is a reason why Belle chose the Beast and not Gaston!
When we desire God to work in and through us, however, we must be aware of our own intentions. Do we want something to happen so badly that we forget to discern whether our will is compatible with God's will? Do we trust in God's goodness and acknowledge that His plan for our life is unfathomably better than any plan we could ever imagine or concoct in our own minds?
When we align our will with His, we can be sure that God will use us in spectacular ways!
If you choose to use your gifts to serve Him and bring Him glory, you will be blessed more than you know!
In Ignatian spirituality, you will find the Latin phrase "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam" which means "all for the greater glory of God" throughout many of their manuscripts, prayers, writings, seminary walls, etc. This Ignatian motto reminds me that everything we do is an opportunity to bring glory to God. Whether you are a janitor at a high school, a mom with three kids, a graduate student, or ____ (fill in the blank), you are being called to share the love and mercy of God to those you serve in your thoughts, words, and actions.
When you answer this call with faith, trust, love and obedience, you can expect to be rewarded not only in Heaven but in this life as well! Many of the Saints were known to be the most joyous people by their friends, family, colleagues, and others. They were blessed not so much by riches and other such materialistic things but with an inner peace and a deep awareness of God's love for them.
These blessings may also come in the form of healing, renewed strength to overcome the task at hand, strengthened friendships and so on. God is generous with the blessings He desires to give us, and all we have to do is to say yes!
Do what is possible, and let God take care of the impossible.
When I first learned of my calling to be a Spiritual Director, I understood that it would be a difficult ministry to build. I do not know of any Spiritual Director who have been able to serve in this ministry full-time. Many people who have received formation in spiritual direction have never actually become spiritual directors or are only able to do so part-time. The odds seemed very much against me, but yet, I knew that God would not lead me anywhere without paving a way for me to get there.
With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I knew what I had to do on my end- write, slowly share about this Spiritual Direction Ministry with others, and continue praying for this ministry, for my current directees and for my future ones. While I was diligently working on my part, God, the Holy Spirit, was already preparing the hearts of those I spoke to and those who would eventually read these blogs! I took care of the possible- using the gifts He has given me for His glory, and He took care of the impossible- bringing this ministry to the limelight!
In God's time, not ours
It took about four years of praying for the Spiritual Direction Ministry until it finally began bearing fruit (or at least, tangibly). Many times, we become easily frustrated when our prayers have not been answered. I've been there! In these moments of waiting, we must remind ourselves that our Father is good and only wants what is best for us. Use this time of waiting to learn how to trust Him further, and have faith that He will answer our prayers for whatever we may be discerning in His time and not ours. (See "God, why the Long Wait?!" for more information on this topic )
God wants to work through you! He wants to fulfill every desire you have. May we bring glory to God in everything that we do and allow Him to work in us and through us! Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!