The light above us.
Along the lines of relearning my not-God-ness comes the embrace of my humanity, all with the aim of pointing people to God and not me.
This is where something in my head can sometimes get really messed up.
I think about how we are the body of Christ here on earth. How we are meant to be Christ to others. How we are meant to keep growing into the image of God in us. And how, for someone who is a spiritual director or just generally in ministry, this can get even more complex because so often we are the visible image of the invisible God for others.
Cue the questions of where we end and God begins, and vice versa.
When I stop to think about it, it’s funny that I take over-responsibility for things and people, given the metaphor of us as the body of Christ. We are each a part, not the whole. I’m an ear, or an eye. Which necessarily means I can’t be a foot or an arm or a finger. I can’t — and am not meant to — shoulder all of the concerns of the world or be Christ’s body in the world on my own. We need each other.
Spiritual directors like to describe what’s happening in spiritual direction by using the image of three chairs: one for the directee, one for the director, and one for the unseen but very real presence of God.
I was talking with my supervisor about this picture last week, and we were talking about how often we assume those chairs to be positioned equidistant from each other, like an equilateral triangle. Sometimes I’m even tempted to believe the chairs held by me and my directee are the ones in “full color” in the picture, with God’s chair kind of greyed out, or perhaps even off in the corner, since he’s an unseen, non-audible presence in the room.
And yet here’s what’s really true:
Spiritual direction is ultimately about the directee’s connection with God.
If anything, it’s the directee’s and God’s chairs that are meant to be “full color.” If anything, my chair is the one meant for the corner so that I don’t get in the way of what God and the directee are meant to find in one another. I’m a facilitator, but the directee and God are the main players there. They’re the reason we’ve come together in the first place.
In relationship, if I shoulder the God role, then I keep someone from receiving what God alone is meant to give them. I unwittingly make them dependent on me instead of pointing them toward the one upon whom they’re meant to depend.
I want my life to be about this: “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Or, as Eugene Peterson puts it in the Message version: “I deliberately [keep] it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.”
May you always see me pointing you to Jesus. This is the prayer of my heart.