Summary of Spiritual Direction with Sister Joan
The first time with Sister Joan was a realization that I needed a sabbatical. The second was me following through on that. The third (yesterday) was me realizing that I had broken that promise.
The last freewrite earlier this week precipitated me meeting with Sister Joan. What a helpful "unpacking" session. It helps that Sister Joan and I are the same personality type (although she is less of a "feeler" than I am) and we have similar ministries.
I need to know when to
- Refer when thing are above my level of expertise
- Trust my intuition (I had a warning sign last May or so and I pulled back. I should have referred though.)
I think when someone has that much of a difficult background, it is important to refer regardless of what is going on on the surface.
In order to not take it personally, I need to realize that the person is speaking from:
- current environment and situation
- personal history
Sister Joan said:
"One who is GOOD at what they do (She was very complimentary of me at that point. Elizabeth was also very complimentary regarding this as she said I am a "cheerleader.") gets more expectations placed on them from the people they are trying to help."
I can add to this that I can also disappoint people more! That is so hard for me because I try too hard to "not disappoint."
Other things she said:
"No heroics" - This is what I have to explore because I don't think I am a hero and will come in to save the day by any means, really! So, I need to really pray through that one. I am open to that being the case, but I am just so driven by my empathy sometimes that I forget about me, which leads me to the most earth shattering of all the things she said.
"Violence against self" - I had to ask her to unpack that one, but as I review the first day with that person (about 6 hours but about 8 with the travel time involved), I did not EAT. I did not DRINK. I did not take a break. Sister Joan could not believe I took that much time. I couldn't leave. I couldn't leave when two other people came because I felt obligated to get to know them. So, this is the biggest thing I do. I do get so lost in other people's stories that I forget that I exist. This is why I needed to take the sabbatical because I had forgotten about me and my health by the end of the school year and my weight control that had been so good for three years changed!
So her recommendations were that I need to:
- Begin to take care of myself - even as I type this, a tiny part of me thinks that is so selfish. I am a helper personality (Enneagram), I score second highest on empathy (Strengthsfinder), the ISFJ is the "Defender" (Keirsey and MBTI - read my strengths and weaknesses HERE - I especially identify with how I take things personally). As I type, this is so GOOD to process in this way! Adriana, are you and I the same personality type?
Get a Life - I think she means separate from our ministry. Our ministry takes so much time, we do not always take time to be with healthy people our own age or be with each other as much as we should (we did stop George meeting with the guys on Saturday mornings though). She also meant spend more time with George and travel. She thought England was a super healthy thing to do!
Build a New Life - "You will live longer." I love our ministry, but I think it is time to move on from the one we have here in Corvallis. I am ready to start afresh. I have learned so many lessons here. I have grown so much! We are already leaning toward me moving up to Newberg next year, and this situation helped clarify that for us. Also, it does not look like there will be people so that we can run our internship (S wrote to say that she was moving to the one that was a "sure thing" and that helped clarify our direction). So, we are a bit more free to do so.
Enjoy Your Own Company and Your Husband's - I don't think that will be a problem. I love being alone and with George and my adult children. I love our family dynamic. We laugh a lot. We love a lot.
Detach from judgments (remember it is the environment, history, and disease of the person) catch them, cock your hand back and throw them to the Moon. (I went up to the Abbey on a very sunny day and adapted it to throwing it at the Sun because it is an allegory for the Son who can take care of everything.
I have prayed through the judgements, and they were absurd, inappropriate, lies that attacked my person hood and integrity, and they need to be thrown away where they belong. I am open to correction, but these were so twisted that I must reject them outright.
It was really cool to talk to Sister Joan to talk about the role the enemy of our souls has in all this. She is RIGHT ON! So, I must remember to armor up, and this goes along with what Kim does every time she talks with the mentally ill people in her life. (Parenthetically, I think the "rumors" about Sister Joan ministry being liberal and "all faiths" is totally unfounded. She is very solid. The strongest voice against her is someone who has never met her. But I digress.)
It takes a village to help a person like this (no heroics), let the village take over. I have done a superb job over the last four years of being a cheerleader and encourager, but I am done with my role (especially since I am called to prepare people through our agency, and that will not be happening for a very long time).
She also had a very practical suggestion that I think I will take into all my interactions with others when they come to sit and talk with me: Have a "hard stop" when you end the time with the person. I get so lost in a person's story that I never think they need to leave, and that is not healthy for me or the person! (I get so lost in their story that I lose me and no longer exist in the matrix - I think people also take advantage of that - not all but some.) True confession: I have stayed with a person up to seven hours!
So, I need to have "hard stops" in my time by having something that I am going to after the visit. A part of me thinks that is so rude! That is what I have to get over it!!!
In about 2012, I realized that I could not do that anymore because of my back was not having it. (It would cost me $40 to get uncorked by the chiropractor [now it would be $20 with an osteopath]), and the person was not paying me for the listening prayer and spiritual direction time.) So, the back has helped me to have a hard stop time. But I have also really not done much listening prayer this last year because I needed a break, and I realize that my passion is not listening prayer. This is part of my "toolbox" in my true passion:
"Shepherding women toward abiding fruitfulness in Christ through relational evangelizing, establishing, equipping, and encouraging."
She has said this before, but she reiterated to me again:
- Trust God: I go back to what I have heard many time, "When a person shows their true colors and self, believe it! God has allowed this to happen for a very good reason. This whole situation has made me question, but I have some new policies in place as a result of this situation, and I am very grateful.)
- Trust Self: God has told me many times, "I gave you discernment as a gift, use it!" If I were honest, I probably had red flags but ignored them (because my empathy often ignores my discernment) only implemented them partially when I realized it last year when that person very rudely complained after one of our sessions leaving me to question myself. The sessions stopped because we were going nowhere, but I did not follow through by referring. That is where I need to grow. The art of referral is key for me.)
- Trust Person: I think, ultimately, it is the person's responsibility to get better. No one can make those choices for them. Be still my soul. She said that, and I told her that I have been listening to this song for a while now. It has the trust in Him and letting go part:
One last point, I broke my sabbatical promise. So, I am seriously thinking about a year long one. I think there is a book in my heart called Journey to Joy that this blog reflects. My journey from a psychotic break in 1983 to today. I must evaluate what that all would look like.
Stay tuned! Please comment. I know some of you read this, and I know this is very open and vulnerable. But it helped that Adriana commented last time.