In this short series on “Learning Your Heart,” we’ve been talking about some of the practical ways we can learn to get in touch with the reality of our hearts, since Jesus demonstrated over and over again — as did the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament — that it is the heart God truly cares to know inside of us.
Before stepping into the final suggestion of this series — that of meeting with a spiritual director — let’s take a minute to clarify what is meant by the word “heart.” It’s a word that gets commonly thrown around, isn’t it? It can be easy for us to think the heart refers to something sentimental or overly feely inside ourselves.
But let me be clear: that’s not what Jesus meant by the word at all.
By “heart,” Jesus is referring to the absolute core of who you are.
The heart, as Jesus described it, is the place inside of us that holds what we know, feel, and believe in the deep-down places, even if those things contradict what we might say and even tell ourselves we believe, know, and feel.
I love that our hearts are not a mystery to God. Although they may be a mystery to us, and although what we discover there may embarrass or repulse us, it never surprises or repulses God.
God is interested in our getting to know the truth inside ourselves so that we can bring that into real relationship with him.
It’s in the truth that real relationship happens.
So, this short series has been offered as a place to start. We’ve talked about paying attention to those subtle intimations that flicker into our awareness but rarely keep or capture our attention for different reasons. We’ve talked about collecting and reflecting on key moments in our lives that made a deep impression or formed us in some way. We’ve talked about practicing prayer of the heart. We’ve even talked about therapy.
Today, to close out the series, I want to offer one more suggestion that can help you attend to the landscape of your heart, become aware of what’s really there, and bring that into relationship with God.
This suggestion is spiritual direction.
You may have heard of spiritual direction before and wondered what it is. Is it mentoring? Counseling? Some strange way of submitting yourself to an authority who tells you what to do in your spiritual life?
It’s actually none of those things.
Spiritual direction, plain and simple, creates a space for you to attend to your relationship with God.
It offers space to reflect on how God has been present to you in your life, or perhaps to consider ways God has not been present in the ways you had hoped. It creates a place to notice and talk to God about these things. And a spiritual director is someone who provides a listening, discerning, compassionate, caring presence and gives you the room to notice and connect to God in these ways.
I can’t tell you how helpful I have found spiritual direction to be in my own life. I’ve been meeting with the same director for several years now, and I am so incredibly thankful for the room she creates for me to notice, connect with, and talk to God. Even though I have a faithful prayer life and my faith is an integrated and vibrant part of my daily life, I still meet with her once a month (and sometimes twice a month) and plan to meet with a spiritual director for the rest of my life. I have found it to be just that invaluable a part of my life.
I’d encourage you to consider spiritual direction as a regular part of your life, too. And if you are looking for a space to simply talk openly and honestly about your relationship with God or concept of God and your interior life, you are welcome to contact me here. I’d love to provide such space for you.
Are you familiar with spiritual direction? Have you ever met with a spiritual director? Do you have any questions about spiritual direction that you’d like to ask here?