It was 2010, and I had been directing a Christian non-profit ministry for 12 years. I was starting to notice a restlessness within. The ministry was doing well, things were moving forward, the staff and volunteers were incredible, the fruit of the ministry was evident, and yet, I could not shake the feeling that something was off. An upcoming retreat on "Desire" was a welcome diversion. I flew to Chicago to attend the retreat. And everything changed.
I was shocked to discover that I had desires...desires deep in my heart that had been placed there by God. It was my "fullness of time", and those neglected desires were starting to exert pressure and discomfort in my soul. I could no longer ignore the restlessness within.
The Lord ministered to me very deeply during the retreat on desire. He invited me to pursue the vocation of Spiritual Direction. This invitation was so compelling that within three weeks, I submitted my resignation to the ministry board of directors, and six months later I transitioned out of the ministry that had been my major focus for the past 12 years.
I continued in a two-year spiritual transformation program, and once that was completed, I moved into a Spiritual Direction program which I completed in 2014.
Shortly after leaving my ministry job, I moved from the excitement of following these deep desires to a prolonged season in the wilderness. I was very unsure on how to navigate this strange place. I was growing closer to and deeper in the Lord. I was loving my classes and the clients I was working with. I was very happy in my marriage and enjoying my adult children and young grandchildren. I could not make sense of what was happening within me.
My wilderness felt like it would go on forever. It left me wondering if I had missed something with Jesus. Had I really heard from Him? Did I make this up? Should I go back to my old job? I prayed and waited. And waited. I was determined to find Him in the midst of this desert.
During this season, I was in a spiritual direction group. What an encouragement to be with people who would sit with me; walk with me; encourage me. They didn't tell me what to do to feel better or how to get out of the wilderness. They knew I was on a journey with Jesus, and their work was to listen, encourage, point out my victories, and celebrate each step through the wilderness. They could see my progress when I couldn't, and they helped me name the things that were holding me back. I was able to pull apart false narratives, to grieve, to feel anger, and to celebrate. This group was (and continues to be) a spiritual lifeline for me.
I was also fortunate to enter into a relationship with a seasoned spiritual director. It was a key turning point in my wilderness journey. It was a tremendous benefit to walk with another and pay attention to my journey in an intentional way. Even though I was a spiritual director, I needed another spiritual director to walk with me and help me focus on my journey.
Spiritual direction created space in my soul to practice awareness in my journey. It gave birth to the deepest of desires, the primary one being I wanted to love God for Himself...not for what He could do for me. I have been captivated by Jeremiah 9:24 "'Let the one who boasts boast of this, that she understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on the earth; for I delight in these things,' declares the Lord." From my desire and this passage, I have accepted that my secondary desire and calling is to guide others to their belovedness in Christ. I believe that when we truly know just how much Jesus loves us, our lives will be transformed, and living from that place will bring transformation to the world.