When I wrote a few days ago on listening to the voice of God, I knew it would end up being the beginning of a series. Discovering that I had stopped listening was a powerful moment in spiritual direction; I have a lot to think (and write) about.
Like a good cynic, I usually come to spiritual direction expecting nothing to happen. And lest my director takes this personally, let me clarify: I expect it to not be fruitful because I fail, which will be because I have nothing to say, which will be because I haven’t prayed enough.
So a few weeks ago I rushed to direction with my usual low expectations. I rattled off the few experiences I had planned to share, and then remembered something.
Let me preface this story with the blissful admission that I live in a bubble. The people with whom I work and socialize are good people, to put it mildly. They think deeply about how to do the right thing. They value honesty and service. They work hard and treat people kindly. They value following their hearts over chasing the dollar.
Back to the story: A few weeks prior to direction I went to a party at which I knew very few people. I usually relish such experiences: new friends! New interesting people to talk to! This crowd was different, however. There was plenty to talk about, but it was a lot about financial ambition and steering children into “more practical” majors in school.
In the middle of the night I cried for about an hour. It took me until morning to realize why: I felt ashamed. I was surrounded by people who didn’t value who I was or what I did. They spoke a different language and lived in a different world and I tried to be dismissive but in truth I was ashamed. I was *just* a teacher and *just* a singer and I had *only* studied music and theology.
As I wrote previously, I set out on this path because I knew it was right. But the shame I felt for having made these decisions made me realize it had been far too long since I had checked in, and been reminded that this is a path of integrity and grace.
I don’t want to step out of the bubble, but neither do I want to let it make me complacent. I don’t want to forget why I do what I do. I don’t want to forget the conviction that led me to reject the values of the world and to cling to the values that I own.
I don’t do what I do because I am a failure. I do it because it was my response to the call of God. I have nothing to be ashamed of.