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Author Topic: Spiritual Tug-o-War  (Read 1293 times) Average Rating: 0
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thismanisdan
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« on: June 15, 2009, 10:00:31 PM »

Hello all. I am so grateful to have found this message board. I've been through ALOT of searching over this past while and this site has been a treasure trove of wonderful information and honest genuine opinions and viewpoints regarding Orthodoxy. Some of the conversion stories have been right up my alley as far as my personal spiritual walk is concerned and have really resonated with me. I'm seriously considering taking up Orthodoxy and although I realize I have alot of researching/experiencing of the different aspects of the faith I feel in my spirit that this is where God wants me.

 The problem lies in the 'conditioning' i've received over the years through various other Christian belief systems and my own pride. Pride is probably the worst struggle I have regarding my transition. I find that when it is at its worst I actually substitute it as 'discernment'. I noticed this most in a recent friendship/relationship I built with a wonderful woman of Orthodox belief. We've had some amazing conversations about God but after a while our two belief systems (mine being more Protestant based....Sola Scriptura and the sort) clashed and my pride was on full display. I didn't realize it at the time but I acted very condescendingly about many of the matters for no good reason really. I never once gave her beliefs a chance.

 Looking back I could have avoided so much strife if I had learned to just go into things with an open mind. Turns out I had to lose her friendship in order to finally swallow that ugly spirit of pride and look into Orthodoxy (funny because through most of the friendship I always thought she would be the one who ended up shifting her position to see what I saw....oh what a sense of humor God has). I couldn't believe what I read and learned even in the first couple days I looked into it. It was like an entire new Christian world opened up before me, one so strongly tied to the early church that you could not deny its purity. How could I be so stubborn? Well, a certain angel was cast out of heaven for similar reasons. It can happen to me too. It's quite blinding.

 Anyways, even though I feel I have really moved forward as far as my pride is concerned I still struggle with doubts about Orthodoxy and really have a hard time telling where they originate from. I guess part of the reason is that I still have alot of questions about it all (which i'm sure will be answered in time and of which I will most definitely be throwing out there to you guys and others for help) and that it is still fairly foreign to me. I think i've kind of forgotten why I started up this topic.....arg.......well I guess i'm just asking where a good place to start would be (books, prayers, experiences). I do plan on attending an orthodox service sometime soon. Conveniently enough the people that live upstairs happen to be Greek Orthodox so I'm sure i'll end up going with them one sunday.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to read what is surely a bit of a fragmented collection of thoughts. God Bless.





*Dan*
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« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2009, 10:09:56 PM »

Welcome to the forum, Dan!
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witega
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« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2009, 10:19:32 AM »

well I guess i'm just asking where a good place to start would be (books, prayers, experiences). I do plan on attending an orthodox service sometime soon.

Welcome Dan.
And the place to start is attending service. Books, private prayer, and this forum are all good tools. But you can only get so far trying to understand a relationship by reading about it--to understand the relationship of Christ to His Bride, the Church, you need to go and experience it first-hand.
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« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2009, 10:31:47 AM »

^^What Witega said.

Welcome to the forum, Dan!
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« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2009, 10:42:24 AM »

Dan,

To reiterate what others have said: no one can know the faith by reading. A person has to live it through the services and life of the Church. Not only is it a "heart and mind" thing, but it must become a "gut thing", penetrating through all aspects of your humanity to become your new core. For this, you need to be in the liturgical life of the Church, but I think you are finding this out.

Good luck on your search, and please keep us informed!
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« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2009, 01:49:36 PM »

Dan,

Welcome to the forum and good luck with your search. 

I can't really add to what everyone else has said with regards to practical advice for experiencing the faith.  They are all right on the money as far as what next steps you should take.  Orthodoxy must be experienced IN the liturgical life of the Church.

As far as your pride issues, I can relate as I have gone through that much myself, even on this board! Grin  Mea culpa!  It's very easy once you have come into the fulness of the truth and faith to act with pride towards anyone who has not the fortune or discernment God has given to you to make these steps.  To combat it, you must first realize, as I said, that this knowledge and this faith are not entirely of your own making.  ONce you realize that these are gifts from God, then it should be repugnant for you to act out with pride.  I'm sure you know this.  If you are worried about displaying pride, I would, however, counsel you not to lock yourself away for fear you may let the pride slip out.  Saints are not made only in seclusion; we have saint makers around us all the day, our friends, parents, relatives, people we don't know, etc.  Becoming like Christ and growing in the virtues requires us to stumble and fall.  When ascending Golgotha it is impossible not to stumble and fall (Joseph the Hesychast).  The important thing is that you get back up and try again.  God doesn't require us to be perfect otherwise we'd all be screwed!

I would recommend that you read a short work by St. John Damascene (my patron saint), called On the Virtues and Vices.  You can find it in volume II of the four volume Philokalia which was translated by Bishop KALLISTOS.  That may provide some helpful guides as to how to steer your journey away from pride.

Good luck with your journey and, again, welcome!
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« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2009, 01:55:42 PM »

Hello all. I am so grateful to have found this message board. I've been through ALOT of searching over this past while and this site has been a treasure trove of wonderful information and honest genuine opinions and viewpoints regarding Orthodoxy. Some of the conversion stories have been right up my alley as far as my personal spiritual walk is concerned and have really resonated with me. I'm seriously considering taking up Orthodoxy and although I realize I have alot of researching/experiencing of the different aspects of the faith I feel in my spirit that this is where God wants me.

 The problem lies in the 'conditioning' i've received over the years through various other Christian belief systems and my own pride. Pride is probably the worst struggle I have regarding my transition. I find that when it is at its worst I actually substitute it as 'discernment'. I noticed this most in a recent friendship/relationship I built with a wonderful woman of Orthodox belief. We've had some amazing conversations about God but after a while our two belief systems (mine being more Protestant based....Sola Scriptura and the sort) clashed and my pride was on full display. I didn't realize it at the time but I acted very condescendingly about many of the matters for no good reason really. I never once gave her beliefs a chance.

 Looking back I could have avoided so much strife if I had learned to just go into things with an open mind. Turns out I had to lose her friendship in order to finally swallow that ugly spirit of pride and look into Orthodoxy (funny because through most of the friendship I always thought she would be the one who ended up shifting her position to see what I saw....oh what a sense of humor God has). I couldn't believe what I read and learned even in the first couple days I looked into it. It was like an entire new Christian world opened up before me, one so strongly tied to the early church that you could not deny its purity. How could I be so stubborn? Well, a certain angel was cast out of heaven for similar reasons. It can happen to me too. It's quite blinding.

 Anyways, even though I feel I have really moved forward as far as my pride is concerned I still struggle with doubts about Orthodoxy and really have a hard time telling where they originate from. I guess part of the reason is that I still have alot of questions about it all (which i'm sure will be answered in time and of which I will most definitely be throwing out there to you guys and others for help) and that it is still fairly foreign to me. I think i've kind of forgotten why I started up this topic.....arg.......well I guess i'm just asking where a good place to start would be (books, prayers, experiences). I do plan on attending an orthodox service sometime soon. Conveniently enough the people that live upstairs happen to be Greek Orthodox so I'm sure i'll end up going with them one sunday.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to read what is surely a bit of a fragmented collection of thoughts. God Bless.





*Dan*


You gotta grow thick skin. For sometimes your pride or ego might get hurt from time to time. If you know this ahead of time, then you should be able to properly prepare yourself for Orthodoxy in the long run.


So, if you are able to bounce back after getting your ego crushed.......then you will do well in Orthodoxy. (in the long run) ....for after the beauty comes the pain.


No pain, no gain! So prepare yourself mentally and psychologicaly and you should be fine. For this too is a spiritual issue. I am only telling you this because I am a book worm and I pretty much read and argued my way into Orthodoxy, so the books will be there for you to read. I'm sure you will find plenty of awsome books that will answer what you desire to know.

But there is more to Orthodoxy than just cognetive knowledge. You have to really fight, manage, and monitor what goes on inside you. And this is why I said what I said about preparing yourself. You have to learn how to cope with pain, suffering, hurt, anger........ect.

If you are able to get back up after getting your feelings hurt, ego crushed, or pride torn to pieces then you will do well.



There are threads in the convert section about certain books you should read.






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thismanisdan
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« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2009, 08:49:35 PM »

And here I thought my post had fallen on deaf ears (or blind eyes i guess Tongue). Thank you all for your advice. I agree with what was said. I think the book knowledge got me to a place where the claim of Orthodoxy being the true church seemed logical and reinforced. Now its time to begin the fusion of mind and soul i suppose. I really hope God moves me in the ways I need tomorrow when attending my first liturgy. I'm somewhat nervous. Prayers would be greatly appreciated.
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« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2009, 03:24:05 PM »

Well you guys, I attended my first liturgy today. Interesting and different to say the least. At this point i'm sorting out alot of thoughts on the matter but I really enjoyed the experience.

Things I liked:

- the dialogue and the fact that everyone participates as a body
- the open floor plan (this to me reflects how it would have been in Christ's day as he preached throughout Galilee)
- the ambiance via candles, incense, the singing. I find this provides a perfect atmosphere for the spirit of god to really be felt.
- the idea that no matter where you looked you could see Christ, be it through the icons, the Eucharist, the candles, the many crosses, etc........there is no such thing as a distraction in that room


I did however leave fairly quickly as i'm quite shy and couldn't bring myself to stay and chat but I'll definitely be going again.

What were some of you guys' first experiences like? (more of a question for converts i guess)
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« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2009, 04:28:33 PM »

Dan,  Welcome to the Convert Issues Forum! I hope that you will find this a safe  place to get simple and direct answers to  your quieries.

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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2009, 12:48:35 AM »

My first experience was actually the Pascha service in a tiny little church. The service was weird, long, indecipherable for the most part, but oddly warm and comforting as the moments passed. I can remember my first few visits as being very confused on my part, so I didn't get as much out of them as I wish I had. The more I visited, and the more I gave myself to praying the prayers with confident abandon, which I would call the gift of faith, the more I became comfortable, even at home in the services. Now the services are continually revealing layer upon layer of meaning and depth in the soul, and I wish I could live in a tent in the parking lot; I love it so much. I can understand your realization of pride, because I have spent my entire learning and conversion experience, continuing through this point in time, in pride. I think that's what being a prodigal is all about, though. We have nothing. May the Lord help us in our pride.

And may the All-Holy Trinity be with you in everything.  Keep us updated if you have the time. We'll be praying!
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