I believe to be a good at any of the listening ministries: psychiatry, psychology, pastoral counseling, and yes, spiritual direction; you have to have had experiences that help to create you as a compassionate person, soulful listener. In other words you have to be willing to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
When I was a younger woman: high-school, college age, I was sure I knew what was what. I was a bit militant in my beliefs that no-one has the right to tell a woman what she should do with her body, and I felt like that for a while; that is until I became pregnant with our first.
At that moment the womb was rented and I was a mom, like or not. I have to tell you I was surprised by that! I was sure that if I was ever to become pregnant I would just go off and have an abortion, but I couldn’t, wouldn’t do that. It was scary to now be someone’s mom. I wasn’t finished being me yet and now I have to become someone I don’t even know; mind blown. Thank God it takes nine months to become a parent, because you need that adjustment period! You need that time to listen to God’s call in your life. It’s not just growing up, maturing, no it’s more incomprehensible, perplexing. It is the reshaping of the soul, spirit, mind: You are co-creating with God in making a new person, wonderfully and marvelously made.
I call this time in my life the time of spiritual evolvement as I went through what I believe some moms go through. First there is the denial that you are pregnant, must have missed counted, my period will start next week, well, maybe the week after! Than anger at being pregnant, (if you were not planning to be in the first place), at the thought that God has given you all these gifts and talents that you can no longer use because you are going to be a mom. Then you bargain: God if I am pregnant you gotta help me out! Next you go through sorrow at the life you thought you were going to have disappearing as this new imposed life takes root. But slowly new thoughts prayerfully emerge; thoughts of how your gifts and talents are now going to expand, they were never going to be wasted; you will be using them in greater more profound ways.
It is at that time that you/I became a mom.
But many moms, especially young moms go through this process spiritually blind. They are so consumed with fear and what society tells them is going to be the worst thing to ever happen to them that they are like drowning women grasping for any life line that is thrown, and sadly that it is a false life line.
When I went off to college I had a roommate who experienced two abortions. What I remember now in highsight was even though I was in my militant you can do anything with your body stage of life I could not give this roommate money for her abortion. It had nothing to do with it’s cost, at the time abortions where $300.00; it had everything to do with the deep seeded truth that abortion was not the way to go. Somewhere in my soul I knew this little person did not deserve to die simply because life is messy. God was putting the situation in front of me to have me look deeply into my own soul to see One: How was I being called to treat someone caught in that situation. How could I be the loving voice, gentle compassionate friend/image of Christ to her? And two: what should my Christ like response be if she rejects what I have to say and says something like “it’s my body and none of your business what I do!” She and I never roomed together after that incident and to this day I pray for her and for my own failings at not being insert thought here: _______.
When I was home during breaks working at the jewelry store that was in the same building as an abortion clinic I saw first hand the women who went in and then came out so changed by what had just happened. Very few seemed to be leaving with a sense of relief and I write more about this experience in my post: The Spirituality of the Window.
Looking back on the journey of my life I can see the paths with their twists and turns, always leading back to those times when God was there as I faced my own worries and concerns at motherhood, was there with friends who dealt with difficulties with motherhood and wept with friends who made decisions that changed their lives beyond understanding. Motherhood can seen as a role that can swallow you whole if you allow yourself to be. Or it can become a powerful ministry and witness of Christ, one in which God uses your gifts, talents, hopes and dreams to profoundly change you and the world! You can become a powerful woman who allows God to take those life experiences that change us and use them to create us into more compassionate and wise women.
Life is messy, and time and time again we are called to be like Christ, and motherhood has a way of helping us to do just that.