Posted by Peggy Guiler
Photo by Peggy Guiler
Years ago I worked in a Christian women’s organization and for the most part loved it but there was one woman in the group who drove me crazy. No she wasn’t the one who swore on occasion and had a fiery temper. That was me. She was quite the opposite. She was the one who, no matter what the circumstance, had a sweet smile, a kind word and a soft response. Besides feeling her demeanor was not entirely honest I could not figure out why such an apparently “truly Christian woman” grated on me so badly.
One day I was listening to the radio and the lyrics of a song seemed to define her for me. “You’re so heavenly minded you are no earthly good”, was what Johnny Cash was signing. That described her to a tee and from that day on I decided I didn’t want anyone to ever say that about me.
When I began work toward becoming a spiritual director there were days when what I read and what I saw made me wonder if I might slip into that place of becoming too heavenly minded. At times it even seemed attractive. The solitary life of prayer and meditation might be a pleasant escape because it would mean I didn’t have to face the harsh realities of everyday life. I thought protecting myself with a holy bubble I might be less susceptible to hurt.
Now I think perhaps the “holy bubble” is part of what that woman was doing. If she lived there she didn’t have to face with honesty and confront the very terrible things that were part of her life.
As I continue this journey I meet more and more people I admire who have found the sweet balance between being heavenly minded and earthly good. They too have responses which are holy but those responses are tempered with the genuine and humble realization they too fall short of the glory of God. They are not giving me answers but rather helping me find God’s answers.
The Code of Ethics for Spiritual Directors addresses this dilemma in a round about way. It says, “The director is to be companion and reflector, not “Big Brother” or “the Answer Lady”…Directors do not have their own agendas …other than the broad goal of a closer walk with God, but seek with each person to discern God’s unique and sacred plan in that person’s life.” It goes on to say, “they respect other’s religious convictions and never proselytize for their own religious denomination or …point of view.,,”.
That description of what we are to be as spiritual directors helps me define better what it was about that woman which grated on me. It was that her views were the only views she would tolerate and her answers had to be my answers or they were not acceptable. She had no tolerance in her even though she spouted the mercy and grace of God.
I am so blessed to be part of a community of learning and growth which embraces spiritual growth and accepts people where they are.