Uniquely Formed: Helping Others Through Spiritual Direction

October 14, 2020

This month’s blog series is “Uniquely Created.” Last month we spoke about Gathering the graces. God graces us with all we need to be the person God uniquely created us to be. If we internalize and believe and trust that we are in fact uniquely created, uniquely gifted, uniquely formed, and uniquely called…we can more easily move into the person God created us to be.

Drew Brees was born to play football.  Winston Churchill was born to lead.  St. Teresa of Calcutta was born to serve the poor.  I’m convinced I am called to do spiritual direction ministry.  

I didn’t always think that.  In fact, for most of my life, I had no idea what I was called to do.  But I’ve always known two things about myself: I’m an introvert and I enjoy helping others.  Knowing these two things helped me recognize God’s call to serve.   

I’m sure there were times when I was growing up when my family worried about me.  I come from a Cajun family, and Cajuns like to talk and socialize.  Not me.  I was the quiet one in the family, the observer, the listener, the one who processed everything internally.  I’ve always been more comfortable with a book and a quiet nook in which to read it.  I’ve always been the person in the background, observing and listening instead of doing and talking.  Even my hobbies are introverted: baking, gardening, birdwatching.  Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against interacting with people, but it’s definitely not my natural choice.  

Which brings me to the second thing that makes me “me”.  I like helping people, and that goes back a long way.  One of my earliest memories is volunteering to clean the blackboards and chalk erasers for my second grade teacher every day after school.  (I realize many of you are too young to remember blackboards and erasers.)  Being available to help others, no matter how small the task, is a way for me to express gratitude for God’s generosity.     

Fast forward to my present vocation, spiritual direction.  As retirement from thirty years in state government approached, I wondered how I could use my introversion and desire to help others in this new phase.  

In the months before retirement, I noticed my co-workers would stop by my office just to chat.  They said 

they felt welcomed there.  Some came to talk, some just came to sit and regroup mentally and emotionally.   Many times I didn’t have to say anything, I just had to be there and listen. It was becoming apparent to me that I enjoyed listening one-on-one to people.  It felt very natural and helpful.  About this time, I made my annual retreat during which I shared my retirement concerns with my director.  She suggested I consider the ministry of spiritual direction.  I was caught off guard by her suggestion, but at the same time I was curious.  When I attended an informational meeting and listened to the information being given, I felt an attraction, a longing almost, a peace and certainty about becoming a spiritual director.  I registered for the training that very evening.  It’s been eight years since then and I have not regretted that decision.  

Looking back, I can see that God was forming me to be where I am today.  My introversion, my listening skills, my desire to help others were all coming together at a time in my life when I had the time and the life experience to use them.    God is doing the same in your life, that is, revealing  your innate  gifts, giving  you life experiences, and putting mentors in your life.  It’s just a matter of being aware and being open to where God is leading you. May you each come to know and follow God’s unique call in your life.

Go Deeper:

  • It’s never too early (or too late!) to notice where God might be leading you.  Think of Drew Brees on his high school football team.  He surely was aware he had a natural ability to throw the ball;  Winston Churchill  must have known he could debate and make decisions;  St. Teresa of Calcutta always lived a life of service.  These were things they all noticed about themselves.  God gave them their special unique abilities and provided them with people who could reveal and nurture what God had given them.  So become aware of your gifts, talents, and natural leanings.  
  • Watch for God’s hand leading you to use them.  Everything in our lives can be used to serve God.  Notice where God is each day.  Even the not so great things in your day can be ways to learn and grow in grace.  We are called to share what we have learned from God with others.  
  • Pray with Jeremiah 18, “The Potter”.  Imagine yourself in God’s pottery workshop.  Watch as God lovingly looks upon you and creates something out of the clay.  See how pleased God is to create it.  What does it look like?  What kind of shape did it take?  What does the shape mean to you?  What do you say as God gifts you with it?  Let this give you insight into how uniquely created and formed you are.
  • I encourage you to pray with the helpful guide for discerning God’s call in Becky’s book, The Inner Chapel , pages 198-199.
  • Today is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remebrance Day. Join me in praying for families who have lost a child through supporting the ministry All Embrace and their virtual concert tonight at 7pm Eastern! If you would like to make a donation to All Embrace, please text GIVE to 678-264-3020 or visit myegiving.com/allembrace.
  • Today is also the feast day of St Teresa of Avila!

 

 

Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash.

 

Melinda is an Ignatian-trained Spiritual Director who is passionate about helping others deepen their relationship with God through individual direction, group faith sharing, and retreats. She received her certification in Spiritual Direction from the Archdiocesan Spirituality Center in New Orleans in 2012. She also holds a Master's of Pastoral Studies degree from Loyola University. Most recently, she served as spiritual director and campus minister at Christ the King parish at LSU and was on staff at the St. Joseph Spirituality Center. She also serves in the Women of the Well ministry and is currently on the board of the Louisiana Association of Spiritual Directors. She and her husband Darrel live in Baton Rouge and enjoy birdwatching and fishing.

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1 Comment

  1. Faye Coorpender

    Beautifully written, Melinda. I love your thoughts about Brees, Churchill, and Mother Teresa. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

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