I have been auditing classes for about 2 years now at Denver Seminary in an attempt to “finish my unfinished business” and redeem part of my experience there from my counseling days. This fall I began auditing a class called “Scripture, Formation and Soul Care.” It’s been a wonderfully restorative class for me personally (especially considering the year I’ve had). Going into the class, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve been really surprised at how impactful it has been. It’s reshaped how I view suffering, God’s love, how I approach reading the Bible and it has mended a few bruised areas in my heart.
Not only has this class ministered to my heart, but God has also used it to reveal another beautiful stepping stone in my path ahead. If you flip over this most recently discovered stone you’d find “Grad School: for real this time” written on the underside of it. Yep. I have officially applied to grad school…again! Maybe the second time is a charm 😉
I have prayed and prayed and prayed. I’ve sought godly advice, poured through God’s Word, talked with students at Denver Seminary, read books and prayed some more. I think I can say with relative confidence that God is drawing me back to pursue a formal education again. And this time, I think I’m hitting closer to the mark of what God is truly calling me to.
The program is called Christian Formation & Soul Care. The further I explored my class this semester and the more I looked into the program, the more I realized that this was it.
Can I just say that I think it’s pretty remarkable that God used brain surgery and spinal taps (of all things!) to help point me in the direction of my calling? If I hadn’t been so utterly broken spiritually this summer, I doubt I would have ever signed up to audit this class. I just think that is pretty awesome that those botched spinal taps actually had a purpose. I shouldn’t really be that surprised, but I am.
So what exactly is Christian Formation & Soul Care? Christian Formation is essentially our spiritual walk with God. It’s our process of maturity and development as we seek loving intimacy with Christ. The journey has many ups and downs, twists and turns, valleys and mountains. And it’s in this journey that we occasionally need a little Soul Care (also referred to as Spiritual Direction). The guidance of another…a fellow sojourner…a spiritual friend to encourage us and help point us back in the right direction (Christ) so we can get back on our way.
This is what I’ve felt God lovingly draw me into over the past several months.
The opportunities that this degree can lead to are pretty diverse…everything from leading retreats to becoming a spiritual director. You can get a job working at a church in pastoral care, discipleship or chaplaincy. You can also use it in a teaching context or some other type of full-time ministry. Or maybe God will lead me into something I haven’t even thought of yet! Two of my spiritual role models just retired from being full-time soul care missionaries. They traveled all over the world caring for other full-time missionaries who were away from home and in need of some spiritual encouragement and refreshment. They’d visit a missionary in India for a week and then head to China to encourage a group there. See? There are endless directions this path could go!
I love that this process involves helping others, but in a non-clinical or therapeutic context. I get excited at the idea of being able to help and encourage fellow believers on their spiritual journeys without needing to “fix” them in a traditional counseling setting. I feel a lot of peace and reassurance about that.
I am still in the very beginning stages of learning and understanding the world of Soul Care and Christian Formation. At this point, I have more questions than answers and I haven’t even been accepted formally into the program yet, so I’m practicing the art of not getting ahead of myself. I’m trying to pace myself here, taking one little step at a time as I hear His voice calling me forward. So for now, my application is officially submitted and I’ll wait patiently to hear the final word on if they’ll have me back for a second go-round. Fingers crossed! 🙂