Speak Your Story

Spiritual direction allows us to speak our stories.

Susan Phillips, PhD in her Conversations article Telling our Stories explains the word narrative: to tell and to know.

We all long to be known, understood, and loved. We long to live a life worthy of our calling in Christ, saturated in meaning, and open to healing those around us.

I am young. I am the wife of a pastor. I cradle pain extended from other believers. I feel desperate for the Christ that once felt so near, now so silent in hurt.

A spiritual director sits across from me in a quiet room, a candle lit on the table between us. I draw retrospective thoughts into the present though my spoken words. My head is bowed, tears suspend in my eyes. There are no more words, I am a broken woman.

The spiritual director listens and she extends an invitation to be silent with her in prayer. My mind has not been quiet for so long. I am afraid to quiet it because I only feel empty. Minutes pass, I struggle, more minutes pass. Then, my mind focuses and I feel warmth cover over me. I see a circle of red light, matching the feeling of overwhelming warmth, come into the center of my vision.

When my eyes open, she asks what I heard, felt, experienced. I am too broken to answer. I feel like maybe I have made up what I felt. I just shake my head. She speaks again, “I felt for you something very warm in the center of my vision, full of love.” I left that day afraid to tell her how I had felt the very same thing.

I return in two weeks and speak. I too, saw and felt what she had on behalf on me. God’s love is still present, still center, covering over me. That love breathes life into me and it is everything. In silence, the spiritual director affirmed the healing consolation God longed to bring to me.

Two disciples walk the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:13-32). They do not recognize the presence of Jesus. They speak their story forth, so saddened by the crucifixion of the one they loved. The warmth and love of Jesus covers over their grief. The men see it is their resurrected Savior. They move to share this story and his presence with the other disciples.

Jesus taught through stories.

He still teaches through stories spoken.

More pain washes over my spiritual walk. I draw back to the mending touch of my Lord. He is there with his warmth and love. I recognize him this time. He sees me, knows me, understands me, and still loves me. I will tell my story to heal and to bring healing.

And I will listen.

Join the Conversation

How can you offer the gift of listening to the spiritual story of another, allowing them to be known and understood?

Why is a silent presence, without spoken words, so powerful a gift to offer to another?

What do you need to overcome to share your own spiritual story?

 

 

Lisa Van Engen:
 Lisa Van Engen is a freelance writer from Holland, Michigan, who blogs daily at aboutproximity.com. She combines her background in social work and ministry with her love of writing to help people place themselves in the proximity of renewal. She is a member of the Global Team of 200 and the Exodus Road Blogging Team. Lisa is married to Kris, a congregational social justice mobilizer with World Renew. They and their kids Ellie and Josiah love to laugh, take adventure hikes, and go to Lake Michigan.
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  • http://facebook Nancy Sheys

    I used your blog for my morning devotions. I like the instruction, “Be silent in prayer.” I long to have a soul mate, mentor to be silent with me. I am not young, but once was. I understand your adventure with God. My 4 children filled my all. I left no room to be silent and pray. I’m so happy you are. I’ve had years and years of Bible Study, but want to grow even nearer to my Sovereign Lord.

    • http://aboutproximity.com Lisa

      Thank you for such encouragement. What a gift a Mom is to four children! Yes, not much room is left to be silent. You are a wonderful example, years of study, but still longing to grow deeper.

  • Lisa W.

    We tend to be afraid of silence in our culture. We fill silence with small talk, music, or anything…we can’t stand silence. It is tough to offer the gift of silence especially when we want to offer suggestions, solutions, or even criticism. What a great reminder that our silence can be a gift, in and of itself!

    • http://facebook Nancy Sheys

      In my silence: Today I’ll focus on listening instead of silence. In our crazy-busy world silence is like sitting on an ant hill. When I practice being a good listener, I listen with my ears, my emotions, and I don’t try to think of what I will say. In your silence, learn to listen.

  • http://www.amylsullivan1.com Amy L. Sullivan

    I struggle with quiet. Really well-written, Lisa.

  • http://aboutproximity.com Lisa

    So true, you are a wise one Lisa W! Silence makes us utterly uncomfortable.

  • Becky Bing

    The gift of listening and the power of silence – such an important part of our relationship with Christ. “Be still and know that I am God.” Thank you for this post! It is such a great reminder to engage in this wonderful dimension of my faith.