Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Spiritual Formation and Windmills

Spiritual formation is an ongoing process in life.  The phrase itself is now a degree and practice.  I myself have a spiritual director who has been my personal pastor.  I can't imagine life without Betsy.  Her grace and wisdom have led me to an awareness of God's leading in my life for a decade and a half.

Another lady that deserves a round of applause is Diana Lehman Bergstrom.  I met Diana at Bethany College in 1991.  She was funny, smart, well spoken, and was one of the Dean of Students.  My second year at Bethany I applied to be a RA (Resident Advisor) of Harp Hall.  My fellow RA friend Shanti said this of herself, but really I think she was reading MY mind ....that they chose me because of the work I needed done in me, not necessarily because of what I could do.  Shanti was and is amazing.  I was a fairly new believer when arriving at Bethany.  I drove myself to the campus, car loaded with all I could fill it with, tears welling up and scared of what I would face.  I didn't know anyone really.  By the second year I was supposed to lead a big house full of girls.  Ok, I'll try.  

I was a bit super-spiritual I guess you would say.  Well, Diana was picking up on that.  One weekend we were headed out to a RA retreat and were passing the big metal windmills on the barren hills of 580 in Northern California.  So maybe my ensuing statement was from practicing my spirituality or something, but here it was: "My spirit is troubled."  Diana looked at me with confusion.  "What?"  she said.  I went on to explain that the windmills made my spirit troubled.  "What do they have to do with your spirit?"  It was a fair question.  I thought the windmills were a spiritual issue.  Turns out they reminded me of a weird sci-fi show, "Max Headroom."  Do you remember that?  A barren wasteland.  End times.  For a new believer that may be triggering, but to make it a spiritual issue was not necessary.  I needed Diana to challenge me.  

Fast forward to a Sunday school class I was teaching with my Youth Pastor husband, a day I may regret for the rest of my life.  I told the story.  I had a point -we are all in process. Why do I regret it you ask?  Every youth trip when they would go by those stinking windmills I got a phone call...." spirit is troubled."  Oy.  Now my kids' youth group knows about it, and they call me too!  Please don't call me.

Diana is now a Chaplain on Mercy Ships, doing amazing things with her husband Patrik.  When she found out about my surgery she shared a scripture that I ended up making a sign out of, one for her and one for me as it was the truth of my journey and hers.
The Psalmist goes on to write..."surely I have a delightful inheritance."  Yes we do.  
Once again during this past year she sent me a prayer that I posted on my wall and have read it often.  

O Christ Jesus
When all is darkness
And we feel our weakness and helplessness,
Give us the sense of Your Presence,
Your Love and Your Strength.
Help us to have perfect trust
In Your protecting love
And strengthening power,
So that nothing may frighten or worry us,
For, living close to You,
We shall see Your Hand,
Your Purpose, Your Will through all things.
By St. Ignatius of Loyola

There are people in our lives that the Lord positions to share words of truth in love, bringing comfort through the Scriptures, and it is part of our spiritual formation.  I am so thankful for the women (I think it's so important that we have same gender models) the Lord has given to walk alongside in different seasons of my life who have been gifts to me.  Who are yours?  

So, Diana Lehman Bergstom, I wanted you to know this Thanksgiving week that I am thankful for you, and I am over the windmills. ;)  
Love, Marty

P.S. I walked in tonight from work with Shane showing me a picture of Max Headroom in the news...Seriously?  God and my "once a youth pastor always a youth pastor" husband think they are funny.  But my spirit is no longer troubled.  

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