As you may have seen before, spiritual direction is commonly referred to in books written by saints. The saint might refer to something that their spiritual director said and it makes you, the reader, wonder if you should also have a spiritual director. After all, if this saint who you are inclined to follow to Christ's kingdom had a spiritual director... shouldn't you?
Yes, We have rules that have been established for us and Jesus has given us a path to follow to get into Heaven, but that road may look different for each person. Something that worked for St. Francis won't necessarily work for St. Faustina or me or you. God gives each of us different gifts and provides different things in our lives to help us along the way. We should expect that our road to eternal life looks different from our neighbors' road. How do we know if we're walking the road in the right direction?
I believe that having a spiritual direction is essential to growing in the faith and growing spiritually closer to God. Yes, you can walk the right "road that leads to life" and you can grow closer to God on your own, but there is so much left to uncover -unveil- before our eyes so we can more clearly understand God and His purpose for us in our lives. Spiritual directors can help to lift that cover and help you to glimpse inside of your soul, your actions, and your feelings so that you can mold them better into the image that the Creator desires from you.
Saints have had spiritual directors, as well as priests, nuns, and religious sisters and brothers. Why are we, the laypeople, uncertain if we need that as a priority in our prayer life? Do we somehow believe that these religious sisters and brothers are called to a deeper faith than we are?
Unfortunately, some people do think that. If a nun devotes her entire life to prayer and service, than it would be only reasonable for her to have a spiritual director, right?
How about you, as a mom? Your life is devoted to prayer and service too, right? It could be, if you choose to look at it like that. Our service looks different than a nun's, and our prayers do too, but in the end, essentially we're doing the same type of things: working hard, serving, loving others, and praying. It's the core of what we do as moms, when all those distractions don't get in the way, that is.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, when discussing someone seeking spiritual direction, describes the person looking for a spiritual director (added emphasis):
Again: the Catechism describes a person seeking spiritual direction as "the person wishing to advance towards perfection." The Catholic Church doesn't require everyone to seek a spiritual director, but they believe that those who wish to "advance towards perfection" does. Shouldn't everyone want to advance towards perfection and sanctification?
So I'm going to say this flat out: I think everyone who is called to deepen their prayer life and wants to grow closer to God should consider a spiritual director of some type.
Spiritual direction could look different, just like that path you're on to get into Heaven. Let's delve into the two types: traditional and having an accountability partner.
Traditional: It could be through contact with a priest in a traditional setting: meetings monthly and confession with your spiritual director.
Accountability Partner: This could mean that your best friend, who is faithful and responsible, holds you to the truths of the church and pushes you to grow in faith. That's great! (Here is an article on how to be a good accountability partner to your spouse.)
When I asked Father Mike Schmitz, a priest and social media evangelist if he thought mothers needed spiritual directors, he responded,
Having friends and accountability partners who can walk with you on the journey to heaven are most beneficial. However, you have to be sure that they can and will keep you accountable. You will need to ensure that they can speak the truth into your life regardless, and you have to be open to hearing it.
When it comes down to these two options, I lean more towards the traditional form of a spiritual director because of the depth of insight that he could provide, however I can see how many people, especially in smaller communities without access to spiritual directors or those with a tight-knit group of friends, could benefit highly from an accountability partner. And if it is possible, both avenues of spiritual direction at work in your life could be most beneficial to your spiritual life.
I love this simple statement describing what spiritual direction is:
What Julie is really describing here is another way for us to grow in deeper intimacy with God. Spiritual direction could potentially help all people grow in faith, just like other types of prayer and sacrifice can. Finish reading this, pray about it, and listen to what God has to say about this in relation to your own spiritual journey.