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StGeorge
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« on: July 02, 2008, 02:10:19 AM »

Having come from the Western Church to Eastern Orthodoxy, I'm finding many differences in my life, some of which I didn't fully expect.  I'm wondering if these are normal...

1) Feeling more free my actions--both to do good and to do evil.
2) A sense of no longer having an infallible system that gives the truth ready-made. (I hope that makes sense)
3) Noticing a more rugged spirituality.   
4) Realizing the saints are human, not super-humans. 
5) Not sure what to make of the Pope of Rome. 
6) Not enjoying Divine Liturgy as much...  I used to feel uplifted at times by Divine Liturgy, but nowadays I don't, and oftentimes I only go because I feel that I should.
7) Overall (and this may sound bad) I feel less spiritual. 
8) Something very strange: the first two weeks after I was chrismated there was something that made me feel very joyful and excited.  But I'm not sure if it was the Holy Spirit making me feel this way.  Several years ago, I was prayed over in tongues by Charismatic Catholics, and I felt the same way for about a week.  I know it wasn't something I myself produced because it didn't begin right away and ended inexplicably.  I still don't know what to make of it.  It didn't give me complete peace, so I'm a little wary, even though it occurred right after chrismation. 

But after this, I haven't really been filled with as much joy as I thought I might.  I thought that, in becoming Orthodox, I would become increasingly more happy and joyful in my life.  A Protestant (Baptist) friend of mine recently commented to the effect that he wonders how certain people can be Christians and not filled with joy... (meaning outward expression of joy). 

« Last Edit: July 02, 2008, 02:10:42 AM by StGeorge » Logged
prodromas
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2008, 03:11:03 AM »

Not to give any specific answers to your questions. But like a lot of things in the Orthodox church (salvation, holiness etc) joy too is a process in which we must work on.
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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2008, 07:43:45 AM »

In my experience, for the most part, Orthodox Spirituality is something to be suffered and endured, but it is certainly not joyless.
Someone on this forum once described it as a "quiet joy", and this has been my experience.
Perhaps it's the Aussie in me, but the exuberant, bubbly, rainbows-and-doves type joy has always seemed phoney and Hollywood to me.
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« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2008, 08:08:46 AM »

Someone on this forum once described it as a "quiet joy", and this has been my experience.


Mine too.
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« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2008, 09:01:43 AM »

I agree with Prodromas, OzGeorge, and Sophie. The "adrenalin rush" and the feeling of a quiet, peaceful joy are not the same thing.
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« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2008, 09:30:43 AM »

I would like no convert to take offense to this but from an interview I heard of what I would call a true Orthodox experience and change in mindset he described his old joy as being like "taking a hit from a crack pipe" and once he was Orthodox it was more like a "slow release pill".
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The sins I don't commit are largely due to the weakness of my limbs.

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« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2008, 02:52:05 PM »

Having come from the Western Church to Eastern Orthodoxy, I'm finding many differences in my life, some of which I didn't fully expect.  I'm wondering if these are normal...

1) Feeling more free my actions--both to do good and to do evil.
2) A sense of no longer having an infallible system that gives the truth ready-made. (I hope that makes sense)
3) Noticing a more rugged spirituality.   
4) Realizing the saints are human, not super-humans. 
5) Not sure what to make of the Pope of Rome. 
6) Not enjoying Divine Liturgy as much...  I used to feel uplifted at times by Divine Liturgy, but nowadays I don't, and oftentimes I only go because I feel that I should.
7) Overall (and this may sound bad) I feel less spiritual. 
Cool Something very strange: the first two weeks after I was chrismated there was something that made me feel very joyful and excited.  But I'm not sure if it was the Holy Spirit making me feel this way.  Several years ago, I was prayed over in tongues by Charismatic Catholics, and I felt the same way for about a week.  I know it wasn't something I myself produced because it didn't begin right away and ended inexplicably.  I still don't know what to make of it.  It didn't give me complete peace, so I'm a little wary, even though it occurred right after chrismation. 

But after this, I haven't really been filled with as much joy as I thought I might.  I thought that, in becoming Orthodox, I would become increasingly more happy and joyful in my life.  A Protestant (Baptist) friend of mine recently commented to the effect that he wonders how certain people can be Christians and not filled with joy... (meaning outward expression of joy). 

I had a very similar experience. I was baptized 2.5 years ago, and for the first few months I had a lot of joy and excitement. Then it went away, was replaced by a ho-hum mindset for about 15 months. However, once I dropped the over-conservative and rigid mindset about a year ago and allowed my spirituality to grow, I gained a greater sense of peace and understanding.

Being a convert is a difficult process, especially if your family doesn't understand Orthodoxy very well. Phases come and go, but as time goes on, things become more steady. I've found the best way is to grow is to question and break down basic beliefs, and then build them back up with newer insights.
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« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2008, 08:13:23 PM »

Quote
Initiatory joy is one thing, the joy of perfection is another.  The first is not exempt from fantasy, while the second has the strength of humility.  Between the two joys comes a ‘godly sorrow’ (2 Cor. 7:10) and active tears; ‘For in much wisdom is much knowledge; and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow’ (Eccles. 1:18).  The soul, then, is first summoned to the struggle by the initiatory joy and then rebuked and tested by the truth of the Holy Spirit, as regards both its past sins and the vain distractions in which it still indulges.  For it is written: ‘With rebukes Thou hast corrected man for iniquity, and made his soul waste away like a spider’s web’ (Ps. 39:11).  In this manner the soul is tested by divine rebuke as in a furnace, and through fervent remembrance of God it actively experiences the joy exempt from fantasy.

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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2008, 09:03:48 AM »

I had a very similar experience. I was baptized 2.5 years ago, and for the first few months I had a lot of joy and excitement. Then it went away, was replaced by a ho-hum mindset for about 15 months. However, once I dropped the over-conservative and rigid mindset about a year ago and allowed my spirituality to grow, I gained a greater sense of peace and understanding.

Being a convert is a difficult process, especially if your family doesn't understand Orthodoxy very well. Phases come and go, but as time goes on, things become more steady. I've found the best way is to grow is to question and break down basic beliefs, and then build them back up with newer insights.

Simyan has it right! Converts, like us, often go through a period of trying to be the "perfect Orthodox Christian" ---itself a misnomer. We are attracted to the most stenuous practices, we try as St Paul Warns "to have meat" before we are weaned from "milk". We try to become the ascetic of many years in our earliest moments of conversion.  Failure at seeing that deeply ascetic practice in all believers causes dount , emptiness, and the lack of true joy, this is why many converts can't stick it out and leave the faith or become attracted to very small vagante or non-canonical groups.

Once we understand that we are but infants who must first be stregnthened by the basics of Orthodox practice---prayer, fasting, almsgiving, nonjudgement of others, etc--i.e. the milk of the faith--- before we can sink out teeth into an expanded, full ascetic life and deeper spiritual practices. For myself, I am by age 56 years old but as a practicing Orthodox Christian I have just entered adulthood of my 21st year. The living and practice of Orthodoxy is a life long commitment of spiritual growth and will always have ups and downs. Indeed, many church fathers have noted that the more ascetic we become the greater the chance of lack of humility, prelest, depression, and challenges from Satan will come our way.

Enjoy where you are at, sit at the feet of great spiritual fathers and mothers and allow them to give you the milk you need to become a stronger and more devout Orthodox Christian.

In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2008, 01:58:57 PM »

Having come from the Western Church to Eastern Orthodoxy, I'm finding many differences in my life, some of which I didn't fully expect.  I'm wondering if these are normal...

1) Feeling more free my actions--both to do good and to do evil.
2) A sense of no longer having an infallible system that gives the truth ready-made. (I hope that makes sense)
3) Noticing a more rugged spirituality.   
4) Realizing the saints are human, not super-humans. 
5) Not sure what to make of the Pope of Rome. 
6) Not enjoying Divine Liturgy as much...  I used to feel uplifted at times by Divine Liturgy, but nowadays I don't, and oftentimes I only go because I feel that I should.
7) Overall (and this may sound bad) I feel less spiritual. 
Cool Something very strange: the first two weeks after I was chrismated there was something that made me feel very joyful and excited.  But I'm not sure if it was the Holy Spirit making me feel this way.  Several years ago, I was prayed over in tongues by Charismatic Catholics, and I felt the same way for about a week.  I know it wasn't something I myself produced because it didn't begin right away and ended inexplicably.  I still don't know what to make of it.  It didn't give me complete peace, so I'm a little wary, even though it occurred right after chrismation. 

But after this, I haven't really been filled with as much joy as I thought I might.  I thought that, in becoming Orthodox, I would become increasingly more happy and joyful in my life.  A Protestant (Baptist) friend of mine recently commented to the effect that he wonders how certain people can be Christians and not filled with joy... (meaning outward expression of joy). 



As a catachumen myself I know exactly where you're coming from.  This has been my problem all through my 30 years as a Protestant too.  I believe God has been revealing to me that I'm waaaaay too dependent on my spiritual highs and I'm not being faithful when things are on the droll side.  I've already had my ups and downs w/ the Orthodox too.  But some months ago I read a very helpful article titled something like Reasons NOT to convert to Orthodoxy.  In it the author pointed out the various reasons people convert and un-convert.  It gave me a heads-up on what to expect in my journey.  It's like marriage.  There are times when it's fun, emotionally heady and times when it's downright boring.  Ya just gotta keep slogging through.  My purpose should be focused on worshiping God and serving Him and others not serving my emotions.  As wonderful as they are, sometimes I think these spiritual highs are a detriment to my walk w/ God.  I come to look for and work for them.  When they are not there I begin wondering if something's wrong or I just start wandering off.  The only way I get up and get moving again is I rehearse why I'm becoming Orthodox.  I think of the foundation and structure that is Orthodoxy and think on what Christ is doing in the Church and me and this kinda gets me going again.  I keep telling myself that it is indeed hard work and I should expect that.  That's another thing I respect about the Orthodox is that unlike many times in Protestantism they tell us it's hard and that we should expect it to be but that they are w/ us going through it also.  Protestantism has become so Americanized they expect their lives to be easier w/ Christ despite what the Bible clearly says.  Also, Paul indicates that Christian joy is a choice, a command actually.  We need to understand what Christ has done for us and what He is doing in the world, have faith in that and rejoice!  It's not really about emotions.  I can say that but I really struggle w/ that myself.

I've kinda been rambling, maybe I haven't been helpful at all but I did just want to let you know that there are others who are going through the same thing.  Hope this helps some.  Hang in there!  Cool
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« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2008, 03:37:18 PM »

Simyan has it right! Converts, like us, often go through a period of trying to be the "perfect Orthodox Christian" ---itself a misnomer. We are attracted to the most stenuous practices...

Speak for yourself  Grin  I'm certainly not attracted to that at all.  In fact I'm probably the laziest Orthodox there is.

To the OP: I too have experience more of the quiet joy (or sober Joy as I've heard it explained).  Its not really something I can explain very well though. 
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« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2008, 04:32:54 PM »

Hi

I'm no "perfect Orthodox Christian" Like I said to my Priest in my Church.  I go by the Irish proverb that goes like this: “May I be dead 30 Minutes before the devil knows I'm gone.

I try every day to be good and I feel that is all we can do before GOD. GOD is the one who changes the heart of a sinner.

Have a great day.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2008, 04:33:46 PM by Frank J » Logged
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