Traveling the Path: Getting to Know S. Elizabeth (Betty) Finn
How would you define spiritual direction?
Spiritual direction is the communications piece that helps a person find their path to God, their way through all the events in their life, and how God is active in their life.
How did you begin this ministry?
I began it in working with different communities throughout the country when I was a licensed counselor. I took a lot of courses in spiritual direction at the same time. When I let my license go for counseling, I went into fulltime spiritual direction.
What are some reasons someone might consider spiritual direction?
Spiritual direction is sought by people who are searching for how to be in their life, what to do in their life, a clearer path to God, and to make sure they’re on the right path. Jesus told us that all you need to do to go to heaven is love God with your whole heart, your whole soul, and your whole being, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Spiritual direction helps people find whatever path they need to follow to keep those two commandments. It’s a good way of doing that because you’re talking to somebody else; you’re not just looking at it yourself and making up your own mind, you’re putting it in front of somebody else. We tend to be more honest when we talk out loud to somebody else, and we tend to let ourselves be challenged about what we’re thinking.
Do you have directees of a variety of ages?
Yes. At the current time, it’s mostly older people that I see, but I have had directees of different ages. I’ve had directees of different religions, too.
How do you help directees feel comfortable when they begin meeting with you?
I’m a rather friendly person, so I try to put them at ease. I also let them know that I don’t have any more answers than they do. One of the other things is that I say we’ll meet about three times, then we’ll sit down and talk about whether it’s been fruitful or not. That gives them a way that if they’re uncomfortable or if they don’t feel like it’s going any place, they can say, “No, I don’t think I want to do this anymore.” And it also gives me the freedom if I feel uncomfortable to say, “I don’t think I’m what you’re looking for.” But mostly it’s for them, so they know when they start with me that they’re not locked into something.
Your bio on the website mentions the importance of psychology in spiritual direction. How does psychology come into play in spiritual direction?
Spiritual direction is not counseling, but I believe we’re spiritual beings, so whether it’s my physical health or if I’m struggling with something that ordinarily would be considered psychological, as spiritual beings, it all comes down to, where is God in all this, and where am I, and how will this better help me get to God? For instance, if I’m sick, what’s my image of God? Is God causing that, or is God with me through it? If I’m having a struggle with a relationship, which would sometimes be considered psychology, it’s the same questions: Where’s God in that? What’s God inviting me to do? So the psychology background helps.
Are there any misconceptions of what spiritual direction is?
One of the things that I think is sometimes an erroneous belief is that the spiritual director has the answers. The word “direction” is misleading, because it feels like if you go to this person, they’ll tell you what you have to do, and it’s not about telling people what they have to do. It’s helping people go within their own self and their own heart, and freeing themselves to choose what they should be doing.
What is most rewarding in this ministry?
Seeing people become more whole. Watching people feel good about themselves and their relationship with God, and knowing that I had at least some sense of participating in that with them. That’s very rewarding.