Spiritual direction provides a unique opportunity to come to know God’s action in the soul over time.
By providing a forum to articulate our experience, spiritual direction teaches us to listen to the Lord and notice his action, which in turns generates a deeper wonder and amazement how the Lord is actively working in one’s life.
The dialogue between director and directee, guided by the Holy Spirit, creates a concrete space for deep reflection, awareness, and gratitude for the small and big ways God has worked within his or her heart and soul.
Narrative of life
One of the ways that spiritual direction can foster this amazement at God’s action includes helping the directee read the narrative of his or her life more clearly.
Spiritual direction has the cumulative effect of placing our lives in God’s narrative by deepening our prayer lives and union with God. By being accompanied and deeply listened to, the directee can process his or her experiences within a sacred, warm environment, where the heart and soul can open to see God’s action more clearly.
By tracing the arc of one’s lives within God’s narrative, a directee can grow deeper in his or her self-awareness and understanding of reality. One can see moments of life more clearly, as participation in Christ’s life, which is for one’s own sanctification and fruitfulness, but also for the world as well. By reading the different events, experiences, and even sufferings of life in light of God’s narrative, one can cultivate a deeper appreciation for how “all things work for good for those who love God” (Rom. 8:28). Seeing life in this way helps to recognize how our lives are tied up with the lives of others as well, and how God takes us all of reality and all of our relationships to share in his divine life.
Ultimately, spiritual direction helps bring the locus of our lives to an offering of ourselves, one that is totalizing and fruitful.
Awareness of growth over time
Spiritual direction not only helps us read the external circumstances of life more clearly, but helps us see our interior growth as well.
Because spiritual direction is an accompaniment in our prayer life, we learn to pray deeply, which helps us “undergo a process of inner purification which opens us up to God and thus to our fellow human beings as well” (Spe Salvi, 33).
Noticing that we have made steps in faith, hope, and charity are signs that the Lord is purifying our hearts, stretching them so as to receive his grace with more desire and receptivity.
With the help of a spiritual director, one can notice more readily how he or she responds with a greater capacity of faith, hope, and love in front of what God asks, both in external circumstances, but also in prayer and in one’s interior. Seeing how one responds to the Lord over the course of time with a spiritual director can help the directee take stock of one’s own growth. By listening deeply to the directee and to the Holy Spirit, the director can help the directee notice patterns, steps in growth, and encourage the directee’s faithfulness in his or her prayer life, checking in with the directee with each meeting.
The gift of time is a great grace in this process as well. The Lord works in time and over the course of time. The relationship between the director and directee is also one that exists over the course of time as well. As a result, spiritual direction creates the opportunity for consistent accompaniment to check in with directee on a regular basis. This consistency and regularity creates the space to see more clearly God’s work in the soul.
Wonder & Gratitude
As spiritual direction allows a person to see God’s work in one’s life and soul more clearly over time, it is important to sit deeply with this awareness.
Oftentimes, one cannot help but respond with both wonder and gratitude for these mercies of the Lord in his or her life.
By looking at the narrative of one’s life over time, the different events and circumstances of one’s life, and the interior steps one has taken in spiritual development, one can see how the Lord has been actively at work in every facet of life.
Perhaps the most simple and profound response is to thank the Lord in adoration of his goodness, and to receive the awareness of these gifts with humility.
To give thanks to the Lord becomes our joy, and one that we share with others, bearing witness to his goodness and inviting others to come to know him by our life. That we may, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.” And “in all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).