Helping Hands

After last week’s newsletter I had a number of people ask me about my support team. The Big Five or the Hand— the people in your life who hold your hand, give you a hand up, gently push you from behind— these are the folks that keep me healthy. I have shared with our clergy, all those in formation, and many others about the importance of surrounding yourself with those who promote your health.

  • Spiritual Direction: I first learned about spiritual direction in college from a chaplain at camp who had heard that I was in the discernment process for the priesthood. They suggested that it would be helpful to have someone waking with me in a non-judgmental environment to help me gain greater clarity about where the Spirit was leading me. They introduced me to the first spiritual director, who also happened to be the first female priest that I had met. Her wise, insightful council and companionship was truly transformative. Having a spiritual director, a person to continue to focus on the tending of my soul, keeps me grounded in my faith.
  • Therapeutic Community:It was also in college that I became aware of the therapeutic community. Taking a deep dive into my family of origin, family systems, and numerous assessment instruments was a game changer for me. Continuing to examen my responses, reactions, triggers, and then learning coping mechanisms and expanding my capacity for self-differentiation have all come about through my relationship with the therapeutic community.
  • Coach:It was about a decade into my ordained ministry that I first learned about coaching from an ecumenical colleague. She shared that she found engaging in coaching to be of real value to her work. Based on her recommendation, I sought out a coach, and more than twenty years later, that person is still my coach. This person has walked with me through changes and transitions, but, as importantly, helped me to better understand my role and how to think strategically about the work I am engaged in. Having a coach has been another game-changer.
  • Friend:Having a person in your life who sees you and loves you no matter what makes all the difference in the world: a friend who will tell you the truth in a way that you will be able to hear, a person who will tell you the truth when everyone else is telling you what you want to hear, a friend who unequivocally understands loyalty.
  • Beloved:There is no greater blessing than having a beloved in your life. A person who is different than the above. A person who deeply cares for your soul, has empathy, and understands your scripting and DNA, who knows your capacity and is passionate about you living into it, and who is the true embodiment of love and loyalty. The companionship of a beloved reminds you every day how blessed you are.

Having the Big Five, or the Hand, surrounded by an amazing, large, loving family (both of origin and of choice), and incredible circle of high capacity, high-competency, passionate colleagues, is why I am healthy in mind, body and soul today. Despite incredible challenges or unmeasured opportunities, following in the Way of Jesus, this Beloved Community consistently makes it undeniably clear to me that I am a beloved child of God who is blessed beyond measure!


2 thoughts on “Helping Hands”

  1. Katherine Whelchel

    How does one connect with a spiritual advisor? I would like to have someone like that in my spiritual walk. Sincerely, Kathie Whelchel St. Mark’s

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