My Story and Ministry
What is (traditional) spiritual formation?
My introduction to seminary made a deep impression on my view and embrace of spiritual formation through direction/mentorship. 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/mentorship is 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 our 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 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/mentoring to others, I explain first what spiritual formation could be for them, it is personal and different for every person because every person has a unique story, past, and relationship with God. 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 us where we are and when we are growing, we are in a different place every day: spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Every season of life has different needs.
Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
Someone providing spiritual direction/mentoring 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/mentor is someone who will walk with you and encourage you through the newness and difficulties of your formation. They assure you which feelings are normal and natural and help you to accept or work through them.
A director is also someone who is living as an example and actively engaging in spiritual formation. So many pastors and teachers are telling you what to do but not living it. A mentor should be someone you’d actually look up to or want to be like… in a good way. Not a replacement for Jesus. I mean, someone who is a role model, like an older sibling or kindred friend.
A director/mentor should actively listen to you explain your spiritual journey and development, and then ask questions about how God 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, and give tough love if required. A spiritual director/mentor should encourage you to surrender your time and space to God and let him expand the box where religion and systems and culture have taught you to contain Him.
Personally, I found Spiritual Direction to be a great help in my spiritual formation. I believe the church has distanced itself from the calling of Christ because we are distracted by the ways of the world. I believe, in most circles, there is a lack of discipleship and one-on-one soul care. Personal spiritual formation/direction/mentorship 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.It helps us look within, remove lies, recognize where the church has hurt us, differentiate who God is from what culture taught us, and confidently walk past our fears, trauma, doubt, and shame.
In seeking Him with this kind of intentional pursuit, the creator of the universe can meet us, speak into our lives, and intimately connect with us as a father, lover, and friend.
It is beautiful.
If you want to learn more about spiritual direction or meet with me (Alena), let’s connect!