Christy Messick is a well-renowned Spiritual Director and Guide who describes herself as a safe, attentive, and prayerful companion who accompanies you on your spiritual journey. Mystic Mag had the opportunity to interview her, and learn about her own journey and career.
When did you first know that being a Spiritual Director was your calling and how did it come about?
I have always known that I was drawn towards helping others explore their spirituality, but I didn’t know how that would look. I graduated seminary and am an ordained minister, but I don’t necessarily want to work in a church setting.
During May 2020, I found myself overwhelmed with life. Like many others, I had to transition to working from home while trying to parent a toddler whose daycare had shut down. I work with domestic violence survivors in an area that is steeped in Christianity. In this work, I’ve noticed that many of my clients remain in abusive relationships due to their religious beliefs and upbringing. Somehow, they think they would disappoint God if they leave their marriages. During our support sessions, I started to allow my clients to process and challenge these beliefs. In essence, I was providing spiritual direction even if I had no idea at the time.
As I spoke to a spiritual companion during this time for my own spiritual work, he asked me if I ever considered becoming a spiritual director. Honestly, I had never thought of pursuing this vocation before, but his question prompted me to explore it. I realized I was already doing the work at my job. Also, I reminisced about my own experiences with spiritual direction.
Spiritual direction literally saved my life. During my time pursing a theological degree at seminary from 2008-2012, I realized that I am gay. I knew before then, but I had spent many years trying reparative therapy to become heterosexual because I was taught I couldn’t be gay and a Christian. Realizing that my sexual orientation was never going to change led to a dark moment in my life. I felt I had no one to ask for help as I was afraid of being kicked out of school. I struggled mentally and felt I could no longer connect with God. Thankfully, I decided to try spiritual direction and quickly learned those beliefs were wrong.
Spiritual direction helped me finally accept myself as gay person who is wholeheartedly loved and cherished by a Creator who created me as I am.
I began spiritual direction school at Haden Institute shortly after being asked to consider it by my spiritual companion.
What services do you offer?
I offer individual spiritual direction. Also, I offer group work (Dream Work, spiritual practices, book studies, etc.). All of my services are online.
How would you describe Spiritual Direction?
In its essence, spiritual direction is about entering into sacred space on a regular basis with a trained and discerning guide who helps you notice God (the Universe, Divine, etc.) and your response to God in your daily life. Spiritual Direction could also be called Spiritual Companioning as the Director’s role is to companion with another in helping him/her/they see the Divine’s presence in all of life: in questions, crises, careers, relationships, life stages, faith deconstructions/reconstructions, fears, insecurities, joys, and grief.
I believe spiritual direction is for everyone- not just for clergy or devout individuals. If you’re in the process of deconstructing your faith, spiritual direction can be immensely helpful. If you’re going through a vocational change, a spiritual director can help you sift through all of the emotions and questions that come up in that process. If you just want someone to check in about how your walk with the Divine is going, spiritual direction is for you.
What can a person expect from it?
Spiritual direction typically involves meeting monthly for 1 hour sessions. As the guide, I usually begin with an opening practice, such as a reading, lighting a candle, meditation, prayer, or silence, to center us both.
After there is an opening focus, the directee guides the session with their conversations. I am trained to listen for the echoes of Divinity as one shares and explores life stories, questions, and/or beliefs during the session.
What the person wants to bring to session does not have to be overtly spiritual because I believe everything is spiritual! My job is to hold a hospitable, safe space for the directee, and ask intentional and clarifying questions about his/her/their sharing. Spiritual direction is about growth in relationship to one’s specific spirituality, rather than solving problems or fixing things.
What do you love most about your profession?
I truly believe our life stories are holy. This means that our lives are full of God moments – times when we need God, times when God doesn’t feel present to us, and times when we are puzzled by God.
However, most people do not think of spirituality in these terms. They believe one must belong to a certain faith tradition in order to connect with Divinity. I don’t believe this is true! In my context of working in the southern United States, most of my clients come from two main demographics: LGBTQ+ people who’ve experienced religious trauma and women who have experienced intimate partner violence (with religion used as a weapon to keep them in the relationship). My most rewarding moments came from when a LGBTQ+ person who has been told God hates them realizes that God is crazy about them, as well as when an abused woman has been empowered from her work in spiritual direction to leave the relationship.
Helping to facilitate those God-moments is what I love most about spiritual directioon.