Thursday, November 20, 2008

Twenty Six and Counting

Twenty six years ago we were married at 2:30 in the afternoon at College Hill Presbyterian by three pastors: Ron Rand, Jerry Kirk, and Chuck's father, Branson C. Wiggins. Just a bit overkill but no one could doubt that we are really married. It was slightly rainy and a little bit warmer than it is today. There was a Thanksgiving Day parade in College Hill in which Chuck was stuck for a few minutes trying to get Graeter's ice cream for the reception in order to surprise me. He continues to be thoughtful and full of surprises to this day.

I don't know why I'm so blessed with a friend, a partner, and a soulmate. Not everyone gets that privilege in this life. He has been patient with my career choice to step out of teaching. He has been sensitive to my journey with depression. He is the most talented person I know. He quietly reads and continues to expand his knowledge base. Not only is he intelligent but he is also wise which is a wonderful combination. I have the utmost respect for him. He has made me laugh until I cry. His beliefs are based in the hope that we will evolve into the better versions of ourselves. He's a geek and an artist. He is a quiet man who plays a fierce accordion.

I don't know why this good fortune has been bestowed on me. There is no apparent reason for it. But I'll gladly take it and hope for many more years with the one I love.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Jeanie with the Cool Glasses

I attended a counseling conference this week at the invitation of my friend, Jeanie. Jeanie and I have much in common but our most exciting commonality is our passion for helping people move toward healing and wholeness. It floats our boats, charges our batteries, and blows our dresses up. Jeanie is an excellent counselor and she has walked me through many trying times in my life. Let's just say if she were charging me by the hour then I would have to ask the government for some of that financial bailout money.

At this conference I was able to find sessions where counseling and spirituality were linked. Interestingly enough, the speakers of these sessions spoke from the premise that you cannot separate counseling the person from their spiritual/religious stance. The emotional, psychological and spiritual are intertwined and getting to the root of an issue can often lie in the spiritual/religious realm. Of course, I was very excited to see a secular conference acknowledge the connection in their effort to move people toward psychological health.

I was able to attend sessions such as "Using Biblical Principles to Move Clients from Fear to Forgiveness", "Empowering Clients by Using Spirituality in Counseling", "Counseling Issues with Clients from Mainline Christian Denominations", and "Wired for Joy or Wired for Stress." Of course, I am not a counselor nor would I ever pretend to be. But I have been trained in Spiritual Direction and this renewed my passion for coming alongside people on their own spiritual journey.

I have three main reasons for my passion for Spiritual Direction. First, this is what I am gifted to do. I am a listener, an empathizer, and I love to see people move toward wholeness. I have my own life experiences with depression and loss so I know the struggle of moving from the pit to standing on my own two feet. Of course, I am still moving toward wholeness and I have far to go. I believe my woundedness is the gift that I bring to others. Second, I have worked as an Adult Discipleship Coordinator in a local church. I spent much time finding and developing programs to help people in the area of spiritual transformation. Of course, some of it was very helpful to others as well as myself. I don't totally discount programming. At the same time, I firmly believe that transformation cannot be programmed. I don't believe that Bible knowledge or reading a Christian book generally changes a person. I have seen people who know much about the Bible show the least love to others and there have been times that I can include myself in the category. I do believe that Spiritual Direction forces you to identify where you are with God and what is happening in your spiritual life right now. The goal of Spiritual Direction is to help you identify the desires of your heart and to do the work that helps you move toward those goals. Spiritual Direction is about your spiritual ideology, not mine. I am there to keep the focus on that point that the Holy Spirit is moving you toward. My job is to help you find answers to questions by drawing those answers from you. You are the only one who truly knows the answers and I dance the dance of listening and asking questions and then stepping out of the way of what is happening between you and God. This is truly spiritual transforming work because you are no longer in the knowledge realm but facing the reality of where you are spiritually and how it plays out in your life. It is the joy of being actively involved with your God in the healthiest way possible. The third reason I am passionate about Spiritual Direction is because I have been on a church staff and I have been in that place where I needed a truly safe and confidential place. The reality is that this place is very difficult to find in your own church. So my heart goes out to all the people on a church staff from the custodian to the pastor(s). Most church staffs consist of wonderful people trying to do an impossible job. Their need for support is immense and absolutely necessary. I know Spiritual Direction can be that place that recharges their batteries and helps them to return to an impossible task. Of course, you don't have to be on a church staff to need Spiritual Direction. Anyone can need it at any point in their life.

I am grateful to Jeanie for asking me to go with her. I just hope I have the energy and courage to pound the pavement to make myself available as a Spiritual Director. Just email me if you are interested, what to know more, or know of someone who might be interested. And if it's counseling that you need then I'll just refer you to my friend, Jeanie.