Monday, October 21, 2013

What is Spiritual Formation?

If you’re wondering what the heck Spiritual Direction or Formation was/is and what I’m doing in Seminary, this is for you…

My introduction to seminary has had a great impression on my view and embrace of spiritual direction. I view spiritual formation as a way of life because I believe everything is spiritual.
Spiritual formation is to mindfully and intentionally develop our spiritual lives through surrendering and opening our hearts to meet God as we are; wherever we may be. This may be through silence and meditation, or through living out our calling, or something completely different. No matter the action or time, it will be in a space where we seek to open up our mind, body, and spirit for raw truth and honesty when meeting with God. Keeping this in mind, spiritual direction is then walking with someone through their spiritual formation journey and viewing their practices and beliefs for the purpose of respectfully expanding their “God box.”

I use the term “God box” meaning the space and beliefs we have placed around God. It is through relationship with Him that we learn how He personally interacts and meets with us. It is through relationship and time with Him that we get to know Him and ourselves better. In these quiet times, it allows us the opportunity to ask the tough questions and work through difficult thoughts and situations. It also allows Him to minister to us and give us peace, bringing us to a deeper level of understanding in Him, the world, and our purpose. It grants Him an opportunity to prune us and help us grow, showing us our weaknesses and whispering to our hearts.

In explaining spiritual direction to others, I explain first what spiritual formation could be for them, using the terms I expressed above. It may be through prayer and active listening, writing in a journal, practicing solitude, etc. I explain that for me, it is sometimes different every day. This is because God always meets me where I am and when we are growing, we are in a different place every day: spiritually, mentally, and sometimes emotionally.

Someone providing spiritual direction will spend time getting to know your season of life and your yearning for growth. They will pray for you, help you see new perspectives, and provide discernment as needed. Most importantly a director is someone who will walk with you and encourage you through the newness and difficulties of your formation, assuring your feelings are normal and natural and helping you to accept or work through them. A director is also someone who is living as an example and actively engaging in spiritual formation themselves. The director will actively listen to you explain your spiritual journey and development, and then ask questions about how God/Christ/Holy Spirit is connecting with you and provide suggestions for different ways to seek Him. They will also ensure you are on track and affirm and encourage you or gently steer you back as needed, even giving tough-love if required. A spiritual director will encourage you to surrender your time and space to God and let him expand the box where you have placed Him.

My overall perspective and impression on this process is that it is of great use for individual personal development. I believe the church has distanced itself from the calling of Christ because we are distracted by the ways of the world. Personal spiritual formation and direction is an excellent way to expand the roots and dig into your relationship with God on a deeper level. It creates a free space to request whatever we may need in this time and place, asking God to meet us where we are. In seeking Him this way, the creator of the universe meets us and speaks into our lives, intimately connecting with us as father, lover, and friend.

It is beautiful.

Worship in Portland

My first trip to Portland for seminary was…
worshipful, heart-wrenching, beautiful, tiresome, full of laughter, a constant community, & full of surrender….

A fellow student said it was like going up to Sinai for a week. I agree. I have not been spiritually fed this much in over 10 years.
What a rush of living water.

We went to Imago Dei on Sunday while I was there, and I loved learning new things from them. They had this beautiful practice of a call to worship. Here is the link for the one I heard while I was there: Call to Worship.
All of my classes, fellow students, services, & surroundings called my heart into a constant state of evaluation, thanks, and worship.
When you come down from a mountain, you strive to keep the feeling you had at the top… I know it fades, but even if I could keep 20%, it would be a great hydration from the desert I was living in.  This is what I strive to keep. I will hold onto as much as I can… until we reunite again in February.
And in the meantime, I will strive to be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove.
Blessings to you.