Helping you find your way to emotional, relational,
and spiritual wholeness.

Fire Drill Procedures and Anger-Coping Skills

Police are called to a home for domestic violence. The police arrive to find a couple screaming and threatening each other. Things are broken in the home because they were throwing household objects at each other. Often people come into counseling and describe a story like the one just told. As I therapist I often wonder, “How did it get to this degree of aggression?” When the spark that ignited the fight is discovered it is often a relatively small problem or it is some comment that was misconstrued. Why do small, often solvable conflicts, turn from a lit match to a huge, and blazing house fire? How can these violent eruptions of burning anger and rage be prevented?

Remember the fire drills when you were in school? We were given instructions to drop what we were doing, get in an organized line and follow the teacher outside. We weren’t supposed to talk to one another—though we rarely obeyed that one. Then, after we were given instructions and walked through them, we would wait. Wait for some time during the day when the fire alarm would go off and we would DROP WHAT WE WERE DOING and follow procedures. Whatever current project or discussion that was going on before the alarm had to STOP. You put down books, scissors, crayons or whatever you were engaged in and started to follow the drill procedures.

When a conflict arises—the fire is sparked—and people start becoming upset what often happens is they feed it with gasoline. They open the windows and give the fire oxygen! When anger is “sparked” or triggered the most important thing that needs to happen is getting the fire out RIGHT AWAY. Think of anger triggers (“sparks”) as a fire alarm. You STOP what you are doing and start calming procedures. The sooner calming starts the chance of escalation is greatly reduced. When people escalate to rage, they stop thinking rationally. There are loads of long medical terms that are used to describe the physiology of the brain when angry that could be used here, but how about this: just think about the times when you or someone you knew became enraged. Then ask: “How well were my problem-solving skills working during the rage?” “How well was I able to edit the content of my speech so I was not just blurting out whatever came to mind?” We have all seen ourselves or others have a temper tantrum and knew it was anything but a calm, well-thought-out and rational event.

What is the solution to avoid the rage fire? Conflicts often escalate because one or both parties are trying to prove a point and/or win the fight. This creates an “I-just-need-to-say-this-one-thing” situation that continues on and on. My suggestion to people is to get training in anger management by a counselor or find good resource materials online or at a book store—there is plenty out there! These resources help you to:
• Identify your anger triggers
• Learn how your body feels when you are starting to get angry
• Find things to do to calm your body down (breathing, relaxation etc…)
• Know when to walk away
• Discover calming activities that work for you specifically
• How to terminate a conflict before it erupts (WAY before)

Learning these techniques are great, but they are MEANINGLESS if not practiced. As a therapist I often teach people these coping measures only to have them come back and say they had a big fight with someone. I will ask, “Did you try the coping skills?” Many times people will say, “Oh they didn’t work.” I will ask why and they are not sure. Or they may say, “I tried to calm down, but …..” When I investigate the event it USUALLY turns out to be that the person waited too long after the fire alarm went off in their body. The angrier a person gets the harder it is to calm down. I often say to people, “When your house catches on fire you don’t keep baking cookies do you?” The only thing important when the house is on fire is getting to safety and getting the fire PUT OUT. When our body fire alarm signals it is time to say, “I’ve just been triggered. I can feel myself getting angry. I need to start calming procedures.” Then GO DO THEM! The key is doing the procedures right way and avoid the “just one more thing” scenario.

– Dave Chatel, MA, LLP

What Does a Good Marriage Look Like?

A client of mine was considering whether or not to continue in a long-term relationship that had some problems. I suggested that she think a bit about what would be the elements of a truly great marriage; then we could talk about what it would take for her and this man to develop such a relationship.

She startled me with her response. With a puzzled look, she said, “I have no idea what a good marriage would look like.”

I shouldn’t have been so surprised. In each generation, the number of children raised by two parents — let alone parents in a unified marriage — has been decreasing. When my daughter went away to a solid Christian college, most of her dorm friends were envious that she had two parents who were still married to one another, and happily to boot. More and more young people are growing up in a divorce-crumbled home.

Those whose parents have had a pretty solid relationship can observe and learn from them. Even beyond that,  they can develop good gut instincts about whether a prospective spouse will be a good fit for them and able to be a good help-mate. But the young man or woman who hasn’t ever lived with a culture of mutual love, respect, and responsibility can be adrift with no idea that it’s possible to avoid replicating their family pattern.

So, I took the question of “What Makes a Great Marriage?” — to that impressive authority, My Friends On Facebook. I received plenty of good suggestions, including:

  • Mutual respect. That name-calling thing is a no-no. Words can be apologized for, but are rarely forgotten.
  • -Roz Dieterich, LMSW

  • Make it a point to learn what makes your spouse feel loved. Then do those things. Let your spouse know explicitly what helps you feel loved.
  • Offer one another unconditional regard.
  • Make a commitment to work things through. Don’t keep an unspoken “Plan B” in the background of your mind. Decide together that divorce will not be an option.
  • You can only change yourself. Don’t get in a long-term committed relationship with someone who has current behaviors (or indications of future behavior) that are unacceptable to you.
  • Get good solid counseling together before you commit. It will help you start out with a good foundation to build on.
  • Consider how, as a couple, you recover from a serious disagreement. Can you lay down your own agenda to offer and receive forgiveness? Or do you just let it simmer down and then go on without settling the issue, which can lead to problems later?

To this, I can add the following:  Talk to one another, out loud and not in the middle of a video, about what you want your marriage to be like. How interdependent do you think a marriage should be? Are you ready to let go of your own preferences sometimes for the sake of the relationship? What about rearing children – how did it go in your family and how do you feel about doing it the same way? Do you share common spiritual beliefs and their level of  importance? Read some books on marriage and talk about what seems to be common to most good relationships.

You would do your homework if you were going to buy a car, build a house, or go on a long vacation. The stakes are much bigger here. Don’t let wishful thinking cloud your vision. A marriage, at its best, is an absolutely wonderful thing. Don’t settle for less.

Living the Questions

Our minivan is often a laboratory of life’s most important questions. While on our way to our many activities we try to pass the time by playing one of our favorite card games.  Some questions from the game are gross, while others are hilarious, but each one reveals something interesting about the person answering the question. Many of the answers are obvious, others we would rather not answer. How would you answer these questions from the card game You Gotta Be Kidding!

Would you rather use someone else’s clipped toenail as a toothpick or eat a teaspoon of eye crusties?

Would you rather do a mini cheer whenever someone says something nice to you or have to always wear a “kick-me” sign on your back?

Would you rather always have to pick your nose while talking to someone or always spit on people when you speak to them?

Life is filled with questions. Your response to them molds your decisions and often determines your life’s trajectory. Some questions are easily asked, quickly answered and easily forgotten while other questions latch on and won’t let go. Questions present themselves in a variety of forms and degrees of difficulty.

Some questions appear daily and are usually easy to answer:

  • What’s for dinner?
  • Paper or plastic?
  • Anyone call?
  • Have you seen my keys?
  • What time is it?
  • How are you doing?

Some questions are seasonal and are meant to start a conversation:

  • Are you dressing up for Halloween?
  • Have you finished your Christmas Shopping?
  • What are you giving up for Lent?
  • What are you doing for Memorial Day?
  • How many days left of school?
  • What are your plans for the summer?

Some questions accompany change and make you feel vulnerable:

  • How’s the packing going?
  • When are you leaving?
  • When’s the baby due?
  • When’s your last day?
  • How are you feeling today?
  • What did the doctor say?

But, there are some questions, you carry your whole life and affect everything:

  • What is God forming in me?
  • Where is God leading me?
  • What do I do now?
  • Why am I afraid?
  • What am I resisting?
  • When will God answer my prayer?

What do you do with the life-long questions?

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote this advice to an aspiring young poet eager to rid himself of life’s uncomfortable questions:

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. From Letters to a Young Poet

Some questions take a lifetime to answer.  Living the questions over a lifetime forms your faith and teaches you how to trust and walk with God. Spiritual directors can be helpful companions in the process of living out your questions.

What questions are you living right now? What would you rather do ignore them or live them? The answer is up to you.

-Steve Nickles, M.Div.

The Problem with Unchallenged Assumptions

“You didn’t call the car repair shop because you don’t care—it’s not your car!” Sound
familiar? In relationships—especially marriages—people assume a certain action has
a motive behind it. Usually that is true. But if one person in a relationship believes
the other has a meaning to harm them problems ensue and accusations fly back and
forth. “I care about your car—you don’t care about how busy I get at work! You think I
have all day to make phone calls! What have you done today?”

If you have been in conversations like this you can imagine where they go from here.
The often escalate to yelling, screaming, accusations, hurtful words, threats and/or
silence. What if the assumption that the person did not make the call to the repair shop
was NOT that they didn’t care? What if it was that they cared so much that they became overwhelmed with finding the right shop and ran out of time before finding one? What if they did not call because they forgot? What if they did not call because they spoke to a friend that told them the problem may be fixed at home in the garage? Because it was presented as an accusation the real reason may never get presented—or if it is it is not believed! When people start to make assumptions about motive and then act as if it were true all kinds of needless problems can ensue.

Some couples get in to cycles of blame, pain and hurt because they believe the other’s
motive is always “you don’t care” or some other negative motive. At the bottom of
relationship problems is often an underline assumption that “my partner does not love
me.” When I counsel couples I see the “you don’t care” assumption in the relationship
acting as a virus that attacks the senses. Couples don’t see the evidence that their
spouse does care. The do not hear the words that reflect love and caring when spoken. They don’t feel warm, loving feelings anymore because they believe the person they are supposed to be intimate with does not care!

One of the things a counselor can do is challenge these assumptions and expose the
truth. The truth is usually that the other person DOES care, but past hurtful behaviors
have led them to believe otherwise. Once the truth gets established in a counseling
session it forces the couples to find a NEW ANSWER. If my spouse did not call to get
my car repaired and I BELIEVE they have no motive to harm—that they care—I am
going to respond differently. The conversation might go like this: “How come you didn’t
call the car repair shop?” Notice it is now a question NOT an accusation. It is a question because the NEW assumption is “I don’t know!” I do not know why my partner did not call. I DO know it isn’t because they do not care because I have already established that assumption is false. So I am left with not knowing why and I need to find out. The other person is now getting asked a question and may not be defensive. They may say, “oh no! I totally forgot to call…I am really sorry! I will call first thing in the morning.” Now they are in a place to move on to the next topic. The first scenario (the accusation) may have turned to one person driving off and sleeping in a hotel room for the night—after a huge heated blow up.

The bottom line is this: always challenge assumptions if you are not sure. My feelings,
my evidence from the past, my thoughts may tell me my partner just does not care and
even enjoys hurting me. Even with all that it is always best to challenge an assumption
before acting on it. I MAY BE WRONG. You may need a third party—like a counselor—
to help discover the truth about your assumptions. Learning to do this in therapy is a
skill that you can learn and implement outside therapy. It has extreme benefits not just
in all relationships, but also in dealing with other disorders such as panic attacks and

– Dave Chatel, MA, LLP

Making Friends With the Apology

Second in a series on good couple communication. The first installment can be found here.

No, I don’t mean “Go around apologizing a lot so people will like you.” I mean, “Stop being afraid of apologizing and learn to do it well.”

It’s certain that, from time to time, you are going to do or say something insensitive, false, offensive, or injurious to your spouse. Of course, it’s important to try to be kind, truthful and supportive in everything you say and do, but if you’re always successful, you may skip the rest of this post. The rest of us screw up from time to time.

Let’s say you have just offended your husband or wife. Your first impulse when confronted may be to try to defend and explain. Please bite your tongue long enough to consider this: no matter whether or not you were technically right, the biggest problem now is the rupture in your relationship. A discussion about whose point of view is supported by the most evidence, or whether your emotions justified your actions, will make the conversation more heated and much, much longer.

What should you do instead?

  • Ask questions in order to understand your spouse’s perspective. No matter what you were trying to accomplish, you need to learn how it was heard and received.
  • Pick your time and place. The moment when your spouse is trying to diaper a colicky baby is probably not a good time. Find some quiet and calm if possible. And another note on timing: If you are trying to insert your apology as quickly as possible so your spouse will stop talking about how hurt they were, see that for what it is — a desire to manage your own discomfort. He or she may need to be heard for a while.
  • Take appropriate responsibility. An apology with an excuse is no apology. If you did something, say so. If you were wrong or insensitive, say so. Flat out. (If you are considering apologizing for something that was <i>not</i> wrong or that you didn’t do, you may be in the habit of apologizing simply to keep the peace in a stressful environment. These tips are not for you. Please consider consulting someone wise if this is a pattern in your life.)
  • Apologize for the action, not its effect. “I’m sorry you found that offensive” is akin to saying “I’m sorry you’re so oversensitive, but I’ll be my patient self until you fix that.” Do. Not. Go. Down. That. Road.
  • Ask for forgiveness. Some couples find asking for and granting forgiveness a bit artificial and forced. But many who do make it a part of their interactions with one another find that it can build their bond with one another. Asking forgiveness is a gift — you request but don’t demand the restoration of good will. Offering forgiveness is mercy — you agree to be fully reconciled, leaving the wrongdoing in the past.

– Roz Dieterich, LMSW

I don’t want to grow spiritually

Does this sound familiar?

  • I don’t feel like going to church.
  • What are we doing here anyway?
  • Everyone is irritating me.
  • The Spirit is not here like it used to be.
  • I have outgrown this _____________.
  • I don’t get anything from reading the Bible.
  • I think we should start looking for another church.
  • I am not being fed.
  • I know I should pray, but I just don’t feel like it.

There is a natural rhythm to all relationships.  We have seasons filled with passion and intimacy and other seasons marked by monotony, predictably and even boredom. Many factors can account for the fluctuations; not enough sleep, busyness, laziness, relational ruts, or neglect.

At other times we are merely experiencing the effects that accompany the seasons of having young children, financial stress, taking care of elderly parents, or graduate school. More often than not, if we wait a while, our relationships bounce back, but not always. If the dry season last a long time it may be indicative of a more serious issue—an issue capable of causing serious relational damage.

So, how do we tell the difference between a passing season and a destructive problem? It is not easy to figure it on our own. Most of us need a little help. We may need the input of a friend or a counselor to identify the real problem and some creative solutions.

The same rhythms show up in our relationship with God.

We all experience seasons in our relationship with God in which God seems close.  Prayer is fulfilling and transforming.  We are learning and growing and walking with God is the most important relationship in our life.  Each week we look forward to church. The people in our small group are our closest friends. Serving others is fruitful and satisfying. But also can experience difficult spiritual seasons. Prayer is hard work, people at church irritate us, and watching a Seinfeld episode for the twelfth time is more interesting than studying the book of Ephesians.

Sometimes we are going through a dry spell.  If that is the case, maybe we need to adjust the way we pray or it could be as simple as staying faithful to our spiritual habits and waiting it out.  Often within a few weeks or months, our passion for God returns and our spiritual life is reinvigorated.  But sometimes it’s not so simple.  Our struggles can be symptomatic of a more serious spiritual issue.  If left unchecked it can cause catastrophic consequences to our relationship with God.

What are we talking about? The condition is called Acedia. Acedia is a spiritual ailment in which we lose our interest in growing in our relationship with God.  It is a condition much deeper than simple spiritual dryness. It will not go away with time.  In fact, with time, if ignored, it gets worse.

What does Acedia look like? How do we know we have it? Acedia reveals itself in a number of ways but the most two common is laziness and restlessness. In laziness we will often lose our desire to pray, read the bible, go to church or even think about spiritual questions. It all can feel like too much work and not worth the effort. In the midst of Acedia, everything related to our relationship with God looks and feels dreary, grim, and listless.

Acedia also manifests itself with a general feeling of restlessness. Some people describe it as feeling “uncomfortable in their own skin”. During church, you might feel like running out of the building is the only reasonable response. When you try to pray or read the Bible your body and mind may fidget and long for something more satisfying to do. In extreme cases, you are tempted to think the only answer to your struggle is to find a new church or small group or to avoid church all together.

What is the source of Acedia? The source of Acedia is spiritual.  It shows up unannounced to those who are in the midst of trying to be faithful in their relationship with God and this is what makes it different from other spiritual ailments. The spiritual fathers and mothers of the third and fourth centuries called Acedia the “noon day demon” because it often affects people around mid-life.  It can also manifest itself at the mid-point of a ministry project or spiritual goal.

Acedia can also pounce on you at specific times of the year. Often it can creep in between Christmas and Lent or after Easter. These are both times of the year in which we have just completed a season of intense spiritual investment and we tend to become spiritually disoriented because we don’t have the external structures to focus our efforts like we do in Advent and Lent. The lack of structure makes us vulnerable to Acedia.

How do we respond to Acedia? Most importantly, Acedia should not be ignored. It needs to be confronted directly. If we ignore it, like many physical issues or injuries, it will not fix itself, it become much worse. If left alone it will wreak havoc on our relationship with God.

Two specific spiritual disciplines are necessary for combating Acedia. It depends upon how it reveals itself. The first is staying put and the second is getting active.  This advice might seem to contradict itself.  How can we get active and stay put at the same time?

Let me explain. If we are struggling with spiritual restlessness we need to practice learning to stay put for short periods of time each day. As we learn to stay put and resist the uncomfortable feeling of wanting to escape; God will empower us to overcome the temptation to run away from the internal struggle and will help us to grow through it. Running away either by looking for a new church or new anything will not remedy Acedia.

A similar process happens with spiritual laziness. If we are struggling with laziness we need to spend some time each day getting off the couch and doing something physical, like exercise or manual labor. Go for a walk, weed the garden, or mow the lawn; anything to get you off your seat for a while. God made us as spiritual and physical beings.  What we do physically affects us spiritually and vice-versa. Consistent physical activity over time can reinvigorate us spiritually.

If you are serious about addressing your Acedia I recommend you pick up the book Thoughts Matter by Mary Margaret Funk.  As the title indicates, the author helps us to understand how much our thoughts influence our relationship with God.  She has an excellent chapter on Acedia with some very helpful suggestions on how to work through it. Another helpful book is Acedia & me by Kathleen Norris. Norris shares her personal struggles with Acedia and helpful advice for overcoming it.

I know what you are thinking, for those struggling with Acedia the last thing in the world you want to do right now is read a book, but I need to encourage you, for your own sake and for the people around you, you need to take a positive step to address your  spiritual condition. If you don’t want to read a book, you might consider meeting with a Spiritual Director.

We all go through various seasons in our relationships with people and with God.  But it is important to know the difference between a temporary setback and when we need the help to break free from a more serious condition.  Most importantly, we need to realize there is hope and help available.  I pray for God to help you take the necessary steps toward spiritual health.

– Steve Nickles, M.Div.

Are You Having the Same Conversation I’m Having?


This is the first in a series of posts on couples’ communication. Good communication is the heart’s blood of a marriage. It not only enables the harmony and unity that all couples strive for, it can be a source of real joy and satisfaction to be able to work out significant issues together and find yourselves brought closer together through the process.

It will come as no surprise to any married person that misunderstandings, tension, and disagreement can crop up in married life. One tough situation is when we set out to talk about something, and find the dialog itself becomes a source of strain. Sometimes, in that situation, one of the problems can be confusion about what kind of conversation we’re actually having. Perhaps one spouse wants to reach a solution to a practical problem, while the other is eager to have a relationship-oriented conversation, such as coming to greater understanding about one another’s feelings about the issue. We can imagine what a perplexing exchange might result:

“I think it makes sense to stop for the night after about six hours of driving.”
“I’m not even sure I can handle seven straight days with your sisters.”
“Or would you prefer to go most of the way the first day so the second is easier?”
“Easier? Since when are you considering what’s easier? It always has to be your way. Why don’t you consider my feelings for a change?”

And onward it goes.

At times like this, it might help to take a timeout and decide which discussion is the best one to have at that point. Should it be planning the details of travel or sorting through the concerns about a week with the in-laws. So take a minute to have that timeout – we’ll wait until you’re ready. And don’t worry; you’ll have a chance to circle back to talk about the other issues later.

Use the right tools for the job
If you’re addressing the practical issue first, then there are particular tools that can help. These may include:

  • Assume good will on the part of your spouse.
  • Share your perspective on the problem and listen to gain an understanding of what the important elements are to your spouse and why they’re important.
  • Stick to the topic at hand.
  • Speak clearly and on your own behalf, not assuming anything about the attitudes or feelings of people who aren’t you.
  • Check to be sure the other person actually heard what you meant to communicate.
  • Explore alternatives you may not have thought of before that could address concerns and still offer as many mutual “wins” as possible.

The way to go about having an effective relationship-building conversation is a little different:

  • Again, assume good will on the part of your spouse.
  • Seek to understand your spouse at a deeper level, listening appreciatively rather than discarding thoughts or feelings as unnecessary or invalid.
  • Affirm love and commitment.
  • Be willing to be authentic about yourself.
  • Don’t try to fix the other person’s issues. Instead, try responses like, “I can see how you could see it that way,” or “What would be helpful or supportive from me?”

Don’t neglect the other part of the conversation

Don’t walk away after settling the issue you care most about. It’s an important part of respecting your spouse to take seriously the conversation they wanted to have. You don’t necessarily have to embark on it right away, but be committed to loving your partner by taking seriously what they take seriously. So be sure to make plans together to follow through with whichever topic you set aside at the beginning.

Check in at the end

A good way to end is to ask “Are we really done?” If there are still unclear or tense issues, either make quick work of them if that’s possible, or jointly acknowledge that they’re there and will need attention in the future.

Remember, marriage is a team project. You’re together in this. The rewards of working hard together are immense. And enjoyable.

– Roz Dieterich, LMSW

“If” Versus “Because”

People often seek therapy to find relief from anxiety and depression brought on from stress. The field of psychology offers many great treatments for these issues. People feel stress because they may fail at their job or feel depressed that someone has rejected them. Failures and rejections are painful and can cause anxiety or depression.

Sometimes the stress that comes from failure and rejection is not the real problem. The real problem is the meaning failure and/or rejection places on one’s worth or value. If I believe I am valuable only when I perform well or if certain people accept me, then I am worthless if I fail or am rejected.

Why is this? One way to look at it is to ask how you finish this statement. A person is valuable if______________. For example, “If they are productive in life or if they are loved and accepted by family or a spouse.” People start defining the “ifs” early in life. The definitions are made by parents, caregivers, peers and even the church. The “ifs” set our standards (shoulds) and our standards tell us what we have to do to be valuable.

How would God finish the statement? He would erase the “if” and put in a “because” in its place. He says, “A person is valuable because I made them—period!” No “ifs” “ands” or “buts” about it. Imagine your life if you knew that to be true. What if you did not have to live up to the standards to believe you have worth only IF you perform a certain way, or IF you get approved by certain others? What would failure or rejection look like if they did NOT have any reflection on your value as a person? Failure then turns from “I’m a failure” to “I failed to do this specific job as well as I would have liked.” A rejection by someone would no longer mean “I’m rejected because I’m worthless.” Now it means “It hurts knowing the person I care about is choosing not to accept me, but I am still valuable.”

Ridding ourselves of the “ifs” and embracing the “because” is a process that can happen. It is a process that a therapist can help a person learn to go through. A good place to start is by challenging the “should” in your life.  Maybe ask yourself, “Why am I trying to meet this standard?” “Who put it there?” Maybe it is one of a long list of “ifs” that have been put in your life that you think make you valuable. But if you are already valuable “because”, then that if “should” not be there.

– Dave Chatel, MA, LLP

What is Spiritual Direction and how can it help me?

 What is My First Session of Spiritual Direction Like?

I was on the fourth grade playground in the middle of a soccer game when it happened.  My teacher stopped the game and called out my name, “Steven Nickles, the Principal needs to see you in his office!”

I was a pretty good kid. For five years I had avoided walking through the door most of my friends had walked through at one time or another. My worst fear came true. I finally was going to see what happens on the other side of the big white door with the black letters “Principal” painted on it.

As I waited in the fluorescent lit hallway my mind jump from one question to another:

  • “What would he be like?”
  • “What would he ask me?”
  • “Will I be embarrassed?”
  • “Will I feel stupid?”

If you have never been to a spiritual director you might have similar questions as you wait in the lobby:

  • “Will I be tested on the Bible?”
  • “Will the spiritual director act like Yoda?”
  • “Will the office smell like incense?”
  • “Will he ask me questions I don’t want to answer?”

Thankfully meeting with a spiritual director is more like meeting a new friend for coffee than like going to the Principal’s office.  So, what happens in your first spiritual direction session?

First, I will meet you in the lobby and ask you if you want a cup of coffee.  Second, we will go into my office; sit down and I will say a short prayer.  Third, I will tell you a little about myself and what spiritual direction is about. Fourth, I will ask you a few questions like:

  • What led you to make the appointment?
  • What is your family like?
  • Where do you work?
  • What ways do you like to connect with God?
  • What do you think God is doing in your life right now?

You will do most of the talking. I will occasionally ask you a clarifying question like; “Where did you sense God in this? How did you feel when that happened?” “What do you think God was saying to you?”

I will never tell you what to do, or make you answer a question you don’t want to answer, but I might make a few suggestions about prayer or a book you could read.

Unlike waiting outside the Principal’s office, the time passes quickly.  At the end of our session I will pray again and ask you if you want to make another appointment. Before you answer me you might have a few thoughts: How did the time pass so quickly? I didn’t realize God was so active in my life. Why did I wait so long to start meeting with a spiritual director?

– Steven Nickles, M.Div.

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