GET TO KNOW JULIA
From outreach director to spiritual director
For most of my life I aspired to follow Jesus by doing what Jesus taught: love God and love others. As a campus minister of global partnerships for a Christian university, I was able to practice my faith on a regular basis—building strategic partnerships with Christian organizations around the world, teaching people about God's love and mission of reconciliation, introducing students to new cultures and ways of connecting with God, and participating in worship services all over the world. I loved my life and my community, and I operated at full-speed.
In the midst of all of that serving, I refused to slow down and be still, ignoring my increasing exhaustion. In all the teaching, I forgot to listen, not just to God but to my own inner voice. After seven years of passionately serving the church through full-time ministry, giving my whole self, I realized I had nothing left to give. I quit my job in ministry. With a seminary degree in hand, I had no idea how or if I would be able to use it. Without a job and without a church, who was I? All I knew was that I was exhausted and angry, and I couldn’t imagine serving others any longer.
I felt lost. I was in the wilderness and I didn’t know which direction to turn. After many attempts to figure out what was next, I realized the direction I needed to travel was inward.
In my journey to learn how to take care of myself, I found myself at yoga class with senior citizens. I was the youngest in my class by a few decades, but just as achey and tired. Unlike the yoga of my youth, this class was not a competition or stage to demonstrate dexterity, rather it was a time and space set aside to be grateful for what our bodies were able to do in the present, to care for our bodies and our souls by listening to them, feeling them, acknowledging them in both their weaknesses and strengths.
One day, while laying in shavasana, it dawned on me: if I had shown myself the same compassion and self-awareness during my Christian spiritual practices that I was practicing in yoga, perhaps I would not have burned out in ministry. I knew in that moment, I wanted to be a spiritual director, to provide others with a sacred space and time listen to the spirit within.
I enrolled in North Park Theology Seminary’s Center for Spiritual Direction, and after more than 2 years of training, I have learned rhythms and practices from the Christian tradition and beyond my religious tradition that have helped me to connect with the Divine. I now have the energy and passion once again to love god, love others, and love myself. I became a professional spiritual director in 2020, setting a table in the wilderness for anyone who would like to join me, recognizing that wherever we are on our respective journeys, God is present.