(My friend, Lisa, asked for guest posts on her Cheap Therapy blog. The prompt was “My life was changed for the better by…” This is my response.)
God changed my life for the better.
I first got to know him (her?) personally at 12 Step meetings. He likes the energy in those rooms where people who know him teach me how to live honestly and bravely.
Our 1st next-door neighbors talked me into trying Congregational United Church of Christ. One of the first sermons I heard (from a woman minister!) included quotes from Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies. I bought it the next day. I wanted to know more from Pastor Julie at the UCC church.
I left a job I loved at Hospice in September, 2000. I joined a Servant Leadership covenant group committed to exploring “call” together for 20 weeks. I floundered. I listened. I prayed.
I listed my strengths and gifts. I am a good listener. That’s like saying “Bless her heart, she has such a sweet personality.” Counseling? That requires graduate school and I really didn’t want to take that GRE test or even go back to school. One of my kids asked if I wanted to sit in a little room and listen to unhappy, screwed-up people all day.
Julie listened patiently to my confusion and frustration while we ate lunch at the old Southern Lights. “What about spiritual direction?” she asked. “What is it?” I said. I don’t remember her answer. I do remember the hair on my arms stood up and tingled. Really.
“Check out Shalem,” she said. I found them on the internet (here’s the link) and applied for the Spiritual Guidance Program a couple of months later.
At the 1st 10-day residential session, I met Barb, another female UCC minister. She was funny and irreverent (she even said bad words) and deeply spiritual. I had a friend and a role model. I’m pretty sure God spoke through her, too.
I believe we are surrounded and supported always by a loving Higher Power. He (?) sounds a lot like Julie and Barb and Mark and Lisa and Susan and Mike and Audra and so many others.
I help people tell and interpret their sacred stories. We each have one.
“And what do you do?” someone kindly asks. I groan and then God and I laugh.