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Author Topic: Crisis before my baptism  (Read 3639 times) Average Rating: 0
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malfunkshun
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« on: May 06, 2010, 08:32:32 PM »

Hi all.  I've been attending Orthodox services now for about 15 months, and I've been a catechumen since last December.  My baptism is scheduled for Pentecost, on Saturday the 22nd.  

My girlfriend introduced me to Orthodoxy back in January of '09, and we had planned on getting married after I was baptized, but she unexpectedly broke up with me a month before my baptism.  I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that she had known for a while that we didn't have a future together and neglected to mention it to me until the day she broke up with me.

To make matters worse, she dumped me for another guy who goes to the same church who was a good friend of mine, and I can't escape the situation because I have to see both of them several times a week at services.  I haven't been handling this well at all... things haven't improved at all, they have only gotten worse.  I am having to constantly fight feelings of anger and betrayal towards both of them, and I am feeling horribly sad every day.  I feel despair, I am tempted to drink, I feel hatred and anger, I feel sadness and despondency, I feel completely unmotivated, I have even questioned the validity of what I've been doing in the church and feelings of doubt about God's existence sometimes enter my mind.  I have terrible, awful thoughts that pop into my head, pictures of the two of them together, and it is just awful and it hurts.

Just being awake is constant hurt right now.  I know that this is a test from God, that it should happen right before my baptism, to see if I can handle it... to see who I love more, this girl, or God.  I am starting to become afraid that I will fail this test.  After 25 years of not being able to believe, and hating it that I couldn't believe, I finally found the church and found belief and faith in God.  And then, to have all of that torn down to the foundations right before my baptism... I fear that this test is too hard.  

I pray for God to show me His will, so that I can make it my own.  I pray that this cup should be passed from me, but His will be done, not mine.  I pray for God to remove my pride, to have mercy on me, to forgive me for feeling despair, anger, hatred, and succumbing to temptations of drinking (which only makes me feel worse, by the way) and not trusting that He has a plan for me, that this is all part of it, and that He knows what's best.  I pray all of this, and sometimes it helps briefly, but that never lasts and I find myself plummeting back into despair and hurt.  I fear that my heart has been a fortress against God for too long, and that the enemy has too tight of a grip on it, and that I will fail this test.

I want to be able to accept God's will, and I want to accept these things in my life now and be thankful for them.  I know I should be, because why else should a test be this hard unless the reward was equally great?  It hurts constantly though, and I don't know how to escape it.  Like I said, I pray, but my motivation will just seep away until I am numb and motionless.  I can't get myself motivated to do anything.  I'm in the choir and I have had to leave services because my composure was slipping with the two of them there, and I can't break down in the middle of church.  It's embarrassing when I have to walk out to avoid having a crisis right then and there, and I'm ashamed that I'm not strong enough to handle all of this, and that my faith in God isn't enough to get me through it.

Help?
« Last Edit: May 06, 2010, 08:35:15 PM by malfunkshun » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2010, 08:51:30 PM »

Forget this girl. God is more important. Don't lose faith in Orthodoxy. Get baptised. At your age, you're still very young, your life ain't over. Keep your spot in the choir, and put your energies into doing the best you can there. Ignore this girl (don't hate her, but just ignore her).
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« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2010, 08:58:18 PM »

Wow, that's very rough.  You will be in my prayers tonight.  I can certainly understand how such a thing could make one... wow.  Perhaps talking with your spiritual father and seeing about taking a break from church until your baptism would help, and getting his advice in particular about what seems a very tricky situation.  I mean... wow.  What a cold-hearted... wow.  I can't think of a bigger hurdle to get in the way of one's coming to the church.

Get as many REAL friends as you can to pray for and with you.  
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« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2010, 09:12:24 PM »

Wow, that's very rough.  You will be in my prayers tonight.  I can certainly understand how such a thing could make one... wow.  Perhaps talking with your spiritual father and seeing about taking a break from church until your baptism would help, and getting his advice in particular about what seems a very tricky situation.  I mean... wow.  What a cold-hearted... wow.  I can't think of a bigger hurdle to get in the way of one's coming to the church.

Get as many REAL friends as you can to pray for and with you.  

Ahem. I'm old enough and ugly enough to know what I'm talking about. If I know anything about lads and girls in their mid-20s who've been ditched (and, believe me, I've known many, including members of my own family), what I've written is overwhelmingly the best remedy: Concentrate on the upcoming baptism and life in the Church, and don't hate the girl, just ignore her. As for finding love again, if it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen. Seen this many times in my life. What's now a painful obstacle may well be a blessing. As Bruce Springsteen once sang in the song "Rosalita": Some day we'll look back at this, and it will all seem funny ...
« Last Edit: May 06, 2010, 09:13:30 PM by LBK » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2010, 09:19:42 PM »

What does mid-20s have to do with anything?  His profile says he is just shy of 40.

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I hope the right path shows itself to you and I wish you all the best in the future.
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« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2010, 09:42:39 PM »

Wow, that's very rough.  You will be in my prayers tonight.  I can certainly understand how such a thing could make one... wow.  Perhaps talking with your spiritual father and seeing about taking a break from church until your baptism would help, and getting his advice in particular about what seems a very tricky situation.  I mean... wow.  What a cold-hearted... wow.  I can't think of a bigger hurdle to get in the way of one's coming to the church.

Get as many REAL friends as you can to pray for and with you.  

Ahem. I'm old enough and ugly enough to know what I'm talking about. If I know anything about lads and girls in their mid-20s who've been ditched (and, believe me, I've known many, including members of my own family), what I've written is overwhelmingly the best remedy: Concentrate on the upcoming baptism and life in the Church, and don't hate the girl, just ignore her. As for finding love again, if it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen. Seen this many times in my life. What's now a painful obstacle may well be a blessing. As Bruce Springsteen once sang in the song "Rosalita": Some day we'll look back at this, and it will all seem funny ...

Wise advice to be sure.  However, in such a situation, commiseration helps now, when the wise advice is less likely to be seen as such until a year or two down the road.  I can certainly understand how painful it is to go through something like this in a situation where one cannot escape not only the girl that has done the ditching, but a friend who has apparently betrayed you.

So, you and the Boss do your part and dispense wisdom, and I'll do my part and raise my voice with our friend and the King David "For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, that I could bear.  Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him.  But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and friend.  We took sweet counsel together, and I walked to the house of God in the throng."
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« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2010, 10:00:22 PM »

As you are about to put on Christ Himself in holy baptism, remember that Christ's own disciples abandoned Him on the very eve of his Passion.  A servant is not greater than his master (Jn. 15:20).

But you have found the true faith.  However odd - or painful - the path may have been that brought you here, you got here.  That, at the end of the day, is all that matters, and all praise and glory to God.    

Pray for the intercession of the Righteous and Long-Suffering Job; by sheer happenstance (?) Job is commemorated this very day, May 6.  I will, of course, remember you in my prayers.  

Jason
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« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2010, 10:41:39 PM »

If you would go to this page listed you will find admonitions of St Leo the Great:

It lists many conditions of the human soul and the cure for them. And how a person is supposed to be in order not to be destroyed.
Its almost like having a Saint psychologist speak to you.

http://www.liturgist.org/ccel/schaff/npnf212.iii.iv.iv.iv.html


Here is another treatise by St John Chrysostom, 'That No One Can Harm The Man Who Does Not Harm Himself'

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1902.htm


I thought that might be a good one for your situation.


Just try not to resent him or her. Just think of this as a millisecond of sadness compared to the eternal sadness which we all can suffer in Hell.

And how this life is nothing compared to the eternal joy of Paradise and being with our God Jesus Christ.

Pray the Jesus Prayer.

Pray to one of the saints.

I don't know if you should pray the Jesus prayer, or pray to the saints prayer before you get Baptized, but I would imagine that the Lord Jesus will have mercy on you anyways, since you are going to be baptized.

Ask a priest about it.

Talk to a priest about your difficulties also.

Remember how much Jesus suffered for you, this is nothing if you would consider that.
The psychological pain that Jesus must have endured must have been almost unbearable, because he loved the people who were crucifying him.

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« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2010, 10:58:12 PM »

Is your priest aware of this situation yet?  Speak with him and see if there is another parish you could attend for a time.  I can't imagine how difficult it must be to have the Church, a source of healing become, because of the present situation, a source of pain.  Prayers are with you.
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« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2010, 01:55:08 AM »

Thanks for all of the replies so far guys.

Forget this girl. God is more important. Don't lose faith in Orthodoxy. Get baptised. At your age, you're still very young, your life ain't over. Keep your spot in the choir, and put your energies into doing the best you can there. Ignore this girl (don't hate her, but just ignore her).

I hear you, but it isn't as easy as 'forgetting and ignoring'.  I am in love with her and was counting on building my future with her.  So it's not so simple to just forget and ignore her.  Your advice is simple and sound, but not very practical... at least the forgetting and ignoring part.  I might be able to handle not hating her, staying in the choir, and putting my energies into doing the best I can.

Wow, that's very rough.  You will be in my prayers tonight.  I can certainly understand how such a thing could make one... wow.  Perhaps talking with your spiritual father and seeing about taking a break from church until your baptism would help, and getting his advice in particular about what seems a very tricky situation.  I mean... wow.  What a cold-hearted... wow.  I can't think of a bigger hurdle to get in the way of one's coming to the church.

Get as many REAL friends as you can to pray for and with you. 

Yeah, that's my thought exactly, about the hurdle.  I suspected there might be a trial of some kind before my baptism, but this... THIS?  It makes me want to shout into the sky, "YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!"  Man... wow is right.  I can only suppose that I must have been such a horrible sinner before all of this, that I require a trial by fire to prove my worthiness. 

If you would go to this page listed you will find admonitions of St Leo the Great:

It lists many conditions of the human soul and the cure for them. And how a person is supposed to be in order not to be destroyed.
Its almost like having a Saint psychologist speak to you.

http://www.liturgist.org/ccel/schaff/npnf212.iii.iv.iv.iv.html


Here is another treatise by St John Chrysostom, 'That No One Can Harm The Man Who Does Not Harm Himself'

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1902.htm


I thought that might be a good one for your situation.

Thanks for those links.  I will read through those tonight.  I hope I find something there that helps.

Is your priest aware of this situation yet?  Speak with him and see if there is another parish you could attend for a time.  I can't imagine how difficult it must be to have the Church, a source of healing become, because of the present situation, a source of pain.  Prayers are with you.

Yes, my priest knows about it.  He doesn't approve, he thinks that she made a bad decision, but he of course isn't taking active sides or anything.  He seems to be of the opinion that she might come back, because he says this kind of thing isn't uncommon before people decide to get married.  He himself broke up with his wife once, and she with him once, before they got married.  He's very encouraging; almost TOO encouraging... I don't know if I should keep any hope alive at all for her.  I can get really confused thinking about it.  If it's God's will that we don't get married, then I want to learn how to make God's will my own, but right now I'm failing to do that.  But if it's His will that we DO get married, then I should keep up my hope.  But what if she goes against God's will, since we all have free will, and we never get married although that's what God wants?  I could bust a blood vessel thinking about it...

I feel awful that I am handling this so badly.  I know, this suffering I'm going through is nothing compared to what other people have suffered... people who's wives have died, or children, or the martyrs, and especially our Lord Jesus Christ.  It shames me that I'm so weak.

I still haven't decided on a saint yet, but I've been praying the Jesus Prayer as much as I can motivate myself to.  I'm about to take a long walk around town in a few minutes and just say it over and over and over, maybe for a few hours.

Thanks again for the replies and the advice and the help, everybody.

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« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2010, 03:08:37 AM »


I feel awful that I am handling this so badly.  I know, this suffering I'm going through is nothing compared to what other people have suffered... people who's wives have died, or children, or the martyrs, and especially our Lord Jesus Christ.  It shames me that I'm so weak.


You are not handling it badly. You are handling it well. You are expressing the honest pain of a broken heart. You are asking your Christian brothers and sisters for prayers and advice. You are consulting with your Priest. You are striving to forgive. You are trying hard to maintain your faith even though you have every reason to doubt. You are clinging to hope even in the midst of your darkness and despair.

Do not think that your suffering is trivial. Our suffering is our suffering, and we alone know its pain when we are in the midst of it. I can think of no greater pain than a broken heart. It has been said that Our Lord died of a broken heart. 

Many people have taken their own lives because their hearts were broken, but they were too proud to admit it. They chose to commit suicide rather than confess their hurt and pain to others. It takes great courage, strength, humility, and faith to openly confess: "My heart is broken. I am hurting so badly I don't know if I can go on. I need your help. I need your prayers. I need advice. I need someone to prove to me that love and loyalty are not naive ideals, but realities. Because I honestly doubt it right now. Please help me."

It takes a real man to confess their humanity in this way. God will honor that.

Medititate upon the words of St. Paul:

"Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." [II Corinthians 12:10]


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« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2010, 04:21:30 AM »

God is the great idoloclast.

It seems like you have been given a very serious test; were you simply a sunny weather Christian who was willing to commit to God when everything was going well, or are you a serious Christian who will continue to depend on God even in the long, dark night of the soul?

I am truly sorry to hear of your terrible situation, brother. Nonetheless it seems that through this you may have an opportunity to grow. Perhaps after your baptism you could leave that parish and go to a parish where your ex wont be present. The parish you attend doesn't matter, but being baptised really does.
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« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2010, 09:01:29 AM »

... I don't know if I should keep any hope alive at all for her.  I can get really confused thinking about it.  If it's God's will that we don't get married, then I want to learn how to make God's will my own, but right now I'm failing to do that.  But if it's His will that we DO get married, then I should keep up my hope.  But what if she goes against God's will, since we all have free will, and we never get married although that's what God wants?  I could bust a blood vessel thinking about it...

You should certainly have hope, but make sure that your hope is properly directed.  Placing your hope in another person almost always leads to hurt and disappointment and is usually unfair to the person being hoped on.  Hope can be a heavy burden so keep it rooted in Christ.  It seems like you already know this.

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« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2010, 09:12:48 AM »

I am with those who say, talk to the priest. Yours is really a very difficult situation. The priest who has been in touch with you during your catechumenate perhaps knows you a lot better than we on this forum. Praying for you. Lord, have mercy.
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« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2010, 12:57:36 PM »

I hope that you are not feeling between a rock and a hard place. Please know that you are in my prayers.

By the way, you said "I pray for God to show me His will, so that I can make it my own." May I suggest instead praying the Lord's Prayer, with emphasis on "Thy will be done" ? Sometimes the Lord wants us to proceed on faith, to put our trust in Him in faith...
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« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2010, 01:35:05 PM »

You will be in my prayers as well. Lord, have mercy!
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« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2010, 02:23:32 PM »


Lord, have mercy!

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« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2010, 03:39:05 PM »

You are not handling it badly - you are handling it like I have, and like everyone else who has ever had their heart broken. Most if not all of us have been there, too, and we most likely didn't take it like saints.

When something like this happens, it is somewhat like a death, and you are grieving. There is nothing wrong with the process, except it hurts like the dickens.

Time and prayer will help. Even though you may not notice it, there will come a day when it doesn't hurt quite as much as it did.

Don't delay your baptism - now more than ever you need the healing that will come from our Lord's Body and Blood.

Just a thought about forgiveness, btw, from my own painful experiences, forgiveness is not necessarily about the other person. It's about choosing - and maybe even choosing minute by minute, if that's all you can manage at the time - to forgive and release yourself from the other person's power over you.




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« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2010, 03:47:15 PM »

I hope that you are not feeling between a rock and a hard place. Please know that you are in my prayers.

By the way, you said "I pray for God to show me His will, so that I can make it my own." May I suggest instead praying the Lord's Prayer, with emphasis on "Thy will be done" ? Sometimes the Lord wants us to proceed on faith, to put our trust in Him in faith...

Thanks... I didn't think of it like that.  It occurs to me now that it might be prideful for me to want the Lord to show me His will directly.  Before I was brought into the Orthodox church, I was an unwilling atheist because faith seemed impossible for me to attain.  And it's still one of my main problems, right up there with pride... but at least now I actually am capable of faith, as opposed to before, when my heart was a sealed, seemingly impregnable fortress against God's love.

However... When I asked my priest for advice as to how I might better understand what God's will is for me, he advised me to pray to the Lord by stating to Him, clearly and simply, what my will is, but at the same time accepting with my entire heart that it is The Lord's will which will be done, and not mine.  Then I was to ask in prayer, humbly and with humility, if it were possible that this cup, which I feel as such suffering and pain, might pass from me; but again, at the same time, also accepting with my entire heart that it is The Lord's will which will be done, and not mine.  I should then ask that He might reveal some part of His will to me so that I can accept it and act in accordance with it.

I have been praying to God, asking Him to show me some sign of what I should do, for some indication of His will to be revealed to me, for almost three weeks.  Wednesday night during catechumen class was when I talked to my priest, and starting that night I have also been praying according to his suggestion.

I like to take long walks around town while reading a good science fiction book, sometimes late at night with a flashlight.  For the past few weeks, since the onset of this trouble, I've been using these walks as an opportunity for prayer, sometimes for hours at a time.  Lately, on two separate occasions while taking one of these long walks, I have had experiences that seem to be more than just coincidental; experiences that could actually have real meaning and seem to relate significantly to my current situation.  The first of these experiences occurred about two weeks ago, and although it did contain some ambiguity, it was significant enough to seem like more than just a mere coincidence.  I had no problem accepting the possibility that it might represent a meaningful indication of God's will for me.  

The second experience went way beyond merely significant or just coincidental.  What happened astounded me, leaving me in a state of shocked disbelief for a moment or two.  When realization started to sink in, the shock gave way to a giddy, almost childlike sense of joy, and hope.  What I experienced contained elements which related directly to aspects of my situation in ways that were almost exact.  WERE exact on some levels.  The possible meaning which could be gleaned from this occurrence seemed unavoidable to me - it felt like something that had been planned, arranged, and executed with purposeful design.  If it is possible to be absolutely sure that God is making His presence known to you, that He is taking an active interest in your life, that He has just answered your prayer, then I was absolutely sure about all of these things last night.  Now it's the next day, and although the immediate feelings of elation have worn off, I am still convinced that these occurrences are unmistakable indications of God's will.

The reason why I am relating this is because I want to hear what other people have to say.  I didn't go into details because they aren't really significant to relating the essence of the experience.  However, I don't mind explaining if anyone wants to know exactly what happened.  What I'm interested in knowing is if anyone else has ever had an experience or experiences like these, experiences in which you were presented with almost miraculous evidence of God's involvement in your life.  I am still a very recent convert from 25 years of being a miserable atheist, and my belief and faith in God is still a new experience which continues to surprise me as it unfolds around me every day.

So... is it common, or extremely rare, or completely unheard of for God to make Himself so visible to us?  Is this experience completely unique?  And also, I'm almost ashamed to wonder... is there anyone who would be more inclined to view this kind of thing as a deception engineered by the enemy?  I would hate to think that something which brought me such joy and hope could be a lie.
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« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2010, 03:54:23 PM »

If possible, if she's in the same parish as you, and just her sight is a hindrance to your spirituality, is there another Orthodox church nearby?  I am also impressed by your love for God and for His Church.  Sometimes, you might need to just stay away from those that cause you to err in spiritual life for a while until you can strengthen your faith again.

"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple."

Lord have mercy.
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« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2010, 04:15:44 PM »

Quote from: malfunkshun link=topic=27414.msg432122#msg432122
What I'm interested in knowing is if anyone else has ever had an experience or experiences like these, experiences in which you were presented with almost miraculous evidence of God's involvement in your life.  

...So... is it common, or extremely rare, or completely unheard of for God to make Himself so visible to us?  Is this experience completely unique?  And also, I'm almost ashamed to wonder... is there anyone who would be more inclined to view this kind of thing as a deception engineered by the enemy?  I would hate to think that something which brought me such joy and hope could be a lie.

If I understand you, I have had three such experiences, both of which disturbed me so much that I couldn't talk about them to anyone, even my husband or my priest, until much later. I'm a fairly practical, logical, down-to-earth kind of gal, not at all given to any kind of woo-woo religious experiences. But these made me sit up and take notice, you betcha.

One was before I ever even thought about becoming Orthodox (it was during a church's ethnic festival on a church tour - I was so scared/surprised that I could hardly make it back down the stairs. My legs wouldn't work!), the second was during my catechumenate when I was trying to make up my mind to be chrismated on Holy Saturday or just forget the whole thing, and the third was on Holy Thursday the following year.
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« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2010, 04:25:29 PM »

If possible, if she's in the same parish as you, and just her sight is a hindrance to your spirituality, is there another Orthodox church nearby?

I am also impressed by your love for God and for His Church.  Sometimes, you might need to just stay away from those that cause you to err in spiritual life for a while until you can strengthen your faith again.

"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple."

Lord have mercy.

The closest parish is an 80 mile round trip, and I my car recently went kaput.  I am lucky to live within walking distance of one of the few Orthodox churches in the area.  So, I'm kind of stuck here...

I was offered a job in Alaska about three weeks ago, in Ketchikan.  I was sorely tempted to go, as it would have been four months away from here, and in Alaska during the summer.  I worked there back in 2007, and we (all of us who were working together) had a great time fishing for salmon and catching crab and having cookout on the roof several times a week.

I talked to my priest about it, and he thought it was a great idea at first, until we both realized that there are no Orthodox churches in or anywhere near Ketchikan.  It doesn't help that Ketchikan is on an island, which kind of complicates the possibility of commuting to the nearest church, which happens to be 200 miles away across the ocean.

If I had taken the job, I would have had to leave on the 24th, immediately after my baptism.  If I had taken the job, I would have been gone for four months, and since there were no Orthodox churches on the island, I most likely would be out of communion for the entire time that I was there.  So, we both agreed that leaving the church immediately after being baptized, heartbroken, and out of communion probably wasn't the best idea.

I've heard that a few times lately, people telling me that I'm actually not doing so horribly when I was convinced that I was failing miserably.  I'm still not sure that I'm handling this as well as I could be, but the kind words I've received here are encouraging.  Thanks.
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« Reply #22 on: May 07, 2010, 04:40:48 PM »

If possible, if she's in the same parish as you, and just her sight is a hindrance to your spirituality, is there another Orthodox church nearby?

I am also impressed by your love for God and for His Church.  Sometimes, you might need to just stay away from those that cause you to err in spiritual life for a while until you can strengthen your faith again.

"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple."

Lord have mercy.

The closest parish is an 80 mile round trip, and I my car recently went kaput.  I am lucky to live within walking distance of one of the few Orthodox churches in the area.  So, I'm kind of stuck here...

I was offered a job in Alaska about three weeks ago, in Ketchikan.  I was sorely tempted to go, as it would have been four months away from here, and in Alaska during the summer.  I worked there back in 2007, and we (all of us who were working together) had a great time fishing for salmon and catching crab and having cookout on the roof several times a week.

I talked to my priest about it, and he thought it was a great idea at first, until we both realized that there are no Orthodox churches in or anywhere near Ketchikan.  It doesn't help that Ketchikan is on an island, which kind of complicates the possibility of commuting to the nearest church, which happens to be 200 miles away across the ocean.

If I had taken the job, I would have had to leave on the 24th, immediately after my baptism.  If I had taken the job, I would have been gone for four months, and since there were no Orthodox churches on the island, I most likely would be out of communion for the entire time that I was there.  So, we both agreed that leaving the church immediately after being baptized, heartbroken, and out of communion probably wasn't the best idea.

I've heard that a few times lately, people telling me that I'm actually not doing so horribly when I was convinced that I was failing miserably.  I'm still not sure that I'm handling this as well as I could be, but the kind words I've received here are encouraging.  Thanks.


At my toughest times of struggle, I personally didn't want to see anyone else other than my family and my priest.  I personally talked with my priest in the past, and he agreed I don't have to be in the choir or be an altar servant, but I can just sit in the back of the congregation, take communion, pray, and when the priest says go in Peace, I leave the church and go home.  At this moment, when trying to just not deal with people for a while, and not take center stage in the choir or sing the Scriptures, but quietly partaking of the sacraments, I was able to collect myself and strengthen my faith once more.  For most of the time, I even prayed with my eyes closed to lessen the distractions around me, and I still kept a constant relationship with my priest who knew my situation very carefully.

So I personally don't think you should think yourself obliged to stay in the choir.  Leave the choir for the time being (not permanently, but until you can strengthen yourself), but continue to sing from where you're sitting, continue to partake of the sacraments and keep a close relationship with your priest.

God bless you.
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« Reply #23 on: May 07, 2010, 07:38:39 PM »

Two other things may be of help.

1. Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian. One of the greatest dangers for you may be despondency and falling pray to the evil one. Say this prayer, with prostrations. Then say the Troparion of the Cross (in your mind, substitute "the evil one" for "adversaries".

St Ephrem's prayer:

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk. (prostration except for on Sunday)

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.(prostration except for on Sunday)

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen. (prostration except for on Sunday)


The Troparion of the Cross: O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance. Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries; and by virtue of Thy Cross, preserve Thy habitation.

2. If you have not read Father Schmemann's Of Water and the Spirit: A Liturgical Study of Baptism, do so. It was a long time ago when I read it but at the time I thought it was the most lucid and inspiring book ever on our entry into discipleship.

Praying for you.
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« Reply #24 on: May 07, 2010, 08:01:41 PM »

Thanks guys.  Ok, I'm off to vigil.
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« Reply #25 on: May 07, 2010, 08:50:21 PM »

Hi all.  I've been attending Orthodox services now for about 15 months, and I've been a catechumen since last December.  My baptism is scheduled for Pentecost, on Saturday the 22nd.  

My girlfriend introduced me to Orthodoxy back in January of '09, and we had planned on getting married after I was baptized, but she unexpectedly broke up with me a month before my baptism.  I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that she had known for a while that we didn't have a future together and neglected to mention it to me until the day she broke up with me.

To make matters worse, she dumped me for another guy who goes to the same church who was a good friend of mine, and I can't escape the situation because I have to see both of them several times a week at services.  I haven't been handling this well at all... things haven't improved at all, they have only gotten worse.  I am having to constantly fight feelings of anger and betrayal towards both of them, and I am feeling horribly sad every day.  I feel despair, I am tempted to drink, I feel hatred and anger, I feel sadness and despondency, I feel completely unmotivated, I have even questioned the validity of what I've been doing in the church and feelings of doubt about God's existence sometimes enter my mind.  I have terrible, awful thoughts that pop into my head, pictures of the two of them together, and it is just awful and it hurts.

Just being awake is constant hurt right now.  I know that this is a test from God, that it should happen right before my baptism, to see if I can handle it... to see who I love more, this girl, or God.  I am starting to become afraid that I will fail this test.  After 25 years of not being able to believe, and hating it that I couldn't believe, I finally found the church and found belief and faith in God.  And then, to have all of that torn down to the foundations right before my baptism... I fear that this test is too hard.  

I pray for God to show me His will, so that I can make it my own.  I pray that this cup should be passed from me, but His will be done, not mine.  I pray for God to remove my pride, to have mercy on me, to forgive me for feeling despair, anger, hatred, and succumbing to temptations of drinking (which only makes me feel worse, by the way) and not trusting that He has a plan for me, that this is all part of it, and that He knows what's best.  I pray all of this, and sometimes it helps briefly, but that never lasts and I find myself plummeting back into despair and hurt.  I fear that my heart has been a fortress against God for too long, and that the enemy has too tight of a grip on it, and that I will fail this test.

I want to be able to accept God's will, and I want to accept these things in my life now and be thankful for them.  I know I should be, because why else should a test be this hard unless the reward was equally great?  It hurts constantly though, and I don't know how to escape it.  Like I said, I pray, but my motivation will just seep away until I am numb and motionless.  I can't get myself motivated to do anything.  I'm in the choir and I have had to leave services because my composure was slipping with the two of them there, and I can't break down in the middle of church.  It's embarrassing when I have to walk out to avoid having a crisis right then and there, and I'm ashamed that I'm not strong enough to handle all of this, and that my faith in God isn't enough to get me through it.

Help?



First of all it seems like you are handling things very well. All of the things you are feeling are perfectly normal and you are reacting to them the way anyone else would. I've been in your position, it's going to hurt and there's not much you can do about it. I would just advise you to be careful about isolating yourself from other people.

I've had many dark times in my life and there's one verse that I always come back to.



2 Corinthians 12:8-9

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.







Yours in Christ
Joe
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« Reply #26 on: May 08, 2010, 02:11:55 AM »

Reading through the replies brings me up a little each time.  I survived vigil tonight, they didn't show up.  I talked to my godfather tonight after vigil, we went to a coffee shop and hung out for about an hour and it was almost like a normal good time.  I haven't felt like breaking down and crying all day, although I couldn't get my mind off her at church so I think I wasted my attention there and didn't have my heart and soul in it. 

A lot of this is ups and downs, like a roller coaster from hell, but it 'seems' like it might be leveling out a little?  You guys are definitely responsible for the last day and a half being a lot better.  Where there are two or more people, Jesus is there... I remember that as a bible verse... it stuck with me, but I don't remember where in the Bible.

Anyway, time to sleep, and thanks again so much, everybody.
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« Reply #27 on: May 08, 2010, 02:31:54 AM »

Matthew 18:20  Smiley
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« Reply #28 on: May 08, 2010, 05:54:03 AM »

I am sorry to hear of your upset. As they are both members of your church community it might be worth speaking to them. Have you told her (and him) how you are feeling? Sometimes being open can be a healing experience. One thought that helped me through something twenty years ago was advice from a monk who said "This is your arena". Those words have helped me come to terms with a lot through the years.
This is your arena.
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« Reply #29 on: May 08, 2010, 12:38:02 PM »

I would have taken the job in Alaska.  You say you've been a catechumen for 15 months and you sing in the choir.  I think you are sufficiently familiar with Orthodox prayer and worship to use the resources presented in this thread:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,27292.0.html

I would also consider temporarily attending a different parish.  An 80-mile round trip to Liturgy is not unheard of.  There are families in my parish who travel farther.  Now if you have no car, that's a problem.  But if you have the option, attending a different parish until you are able to tolerate being in the presence of your ex and her new beau is sensible.
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« Reply #30 on: May 08, 2010, 12:40:14 PM »

I am sorry to hear of your upset. As they are both members of your church community it might be worth speaking to them. Have you told her (and him) how you are feeling? Sometimes being open can be a healing experience. One thought that helped me through something twenty years ago was advice from a monk who said "This is your arena". Those words have helped me come to terms with a lot through the years.
This is your arena.

They both know how much this hurt me, and she won't talk to me at all anymore.  The only thing I have left to do with them really is to give the guy an icon for his birthday that I was painting for him.  I finished it the other day, and it's his, so I'll just give it to him.  After that, there's no reason why I should talk to them or be in their lives.  Like I said, she won't talk to me at all, and I don't feel much like talking to him.  They are both aware of how what they did affects me and it doesn't change anything.  So I don't know.  I just deal with it somehow, pray and hope that God heals me soon.

Oh, and here is the icon I painted for his birthday.


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« Reply #31 on: May 08, 2010, 12:43:53 PM »

After that, there's no reason why I should talk to them or be in their lives.  Like I said, she won't talk to me at all, and I don't feel much like talking to him.  They are both aware of how what they did affects me and it doesn't change anything.

You're right.

(Beautiful icon, by the way.  Unless he paid for it, I wouldn't give it to him.  He probably won't use it, and you may find a friend more worthy to give it to.)
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« Reply #32 on: May 08, 2010, 01:18:26 PM »

After that, there's no reason why I should talk to them or be in their lives.  Like I said, she won't talk to me at all, and I don't feel much like talking to him.  They are both aware of how what they did affects me and it doesn't change anything.

You're right.

(Beautiful icon, by the way.  Unless he paid for it, I wouldn't give it to him.  He probably won't use it, and you may find a friend more worthy to give it to.)
This, here. You are an amazing artist!
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« Reply #33 on: May 08, 2010, 03:01:52 PM »


You're right.

(Beautiful icon, by the way.  Unless he paid for it, I wouldn't give it to him.  He probably won't use it, and you may find a friend more worthy to give it to.)

Or such a beautiful gift might prove to be a source of reconciliation between two friends.  Just a thought...
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« Reply #34 on: May 08, 2010, 04:18:33 PM »

Wow! A beautiful Icon! Please do give it to him. What a beautiful expression of Christian love it would be - both artistically and spiritually - to bless this person who has caused you such pain with this wonderful Icon of Our Lord. I have no doubt that God will use this Icon powerfully in his life.

And keep writing Icons! You have serious talent!!!


Selam
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« Reply #35 on: May 10, 2010, 05:07:55 PM »

Just make sure you don't hold a grudge against them.  You don't have to be close to them, but forgive them.  We learn that before partaking of the Eucharist, we must be reconciled with one another.

I think it's thoughtful you're giving him the icon for his birthday even after the pain he caused you.  That is true Christian witness.
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« Reply #36 on: May 10, 2010, 05:13:06 PM »

I gave in to my anger yesterday.  I spent the entire day fuming, and every time I'd try to pray, the desire and motivation would get crushed.  I let the enemy have control yesterday and I feel terrible today for it.  I'm going to leave town for a week and try to get some focus back.

I'll actually be back on the 17th, my friend's birthday, so hopefully by then I'll be in a better mood to give him that icon.
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« Reply #37 on: May 21, 2010, 10:09:12 PM »

I am going to be baptized tomorrow.  I'm very afraid that I'm not ready for baptism.  Today I hit the rockest bottom ever since Leah broke up with me.  I thought I was doing better.  Bad feelings.  Betrayal, anger, injustice, hate.  Why doesn't she care?  How can she not give a shit.  I can suffer and feel pain and fight the hardest battle ever, alone, by myself, without her support... I thought she would be with me... while she spends her nights with her new boyfriend, enjoying the euphoria of new love.  How can this be happening?  How can one person be so cruel to another?  Is that cruel or not?  Am I wrong?  To be dumped, after being led to believe that I had a future, and only because she didn't want to be alone?  When she found someone else, she didn't have to be afraid anymore of being alone.  It was easy to dump me.  She said she loved me, up to the day before she dumped me.  Is that cruel?  Am I wrong to feel pain, at the injustice?  Am I so wrong?  Am I wrong?  Am I wrong?  Am I wrong?  Am I wrong?  Am I wrong?  She kept me around until it was ok for her.  She didn't tell me that months before she had made up her mind about us.  She kept that to herself, because she didn't want to be alone.  She told me that.  Was that wrong?  Am I wrong for feeling betrayed?  What's wrong with me?  Is it wrong to not be able to get over this?

These are the emotions I am dealing with again.  Why?  WHY?  I am so afraid.  So afraid.  So afraid.  So afraid. So afraid. So afraid. How do I defend against the enemy with this onslaught? I'm afraid. I'm afraid. I'm afraid. I'm afraid.
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« Reply #38 on: May 21, 2010, 11:31:17 PM »

Many years!

As for the other situation, analyzing it isn't going to help, nor dwelling what they are up to.  Yes, you are probably justified in feeling betrayed, but that is besides the point.  You have to get on.
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« Reply #39 on: May 22, 2010, 12:36:07 AM »

Pain surrounds me and I can't just get on.  Analyzing and dwelling doesn't help, but nothing else does either.  I've tried.  Prayed.  Talked to my priest.  Talked to you guys.  Posted one more time out of desperation.  Tried.  Confessed.  Forgiven.  The enemy's last attack is killing me.  How can I be baptized with such despair in my heart? 

Maybe if I go to sleep the attack will stop and I'll be ok tomorrow.

Will a mod please close this?  I don't want to do this again.  Good night folks.
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« Reply #40 on: May 22, 2010, 01:15:46 AM »

The demons throw a huge fit whenever someone is about to be illumined. Don't be distracted.
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« Reply #41 on: May 22, 2010, 01:58:01 AM »

The demons throw a huge fit whenever someone is about to be illumined. Don't be distracted.

I know.  I'm aware that this is spiritual warfare, and that the enemy and his allies are attacking me with the equivalent of nuclear weapons.  he has made me feel isolated and alone.  I know it's an attack... but I have never been attacked this hard before.  Logismoi are popping into my head.  How do I stop that? 

That is his strategy... encouraging feelings of anger, hatred, self pity, injustice... he uses the truth as a weapon against me.  Then he uses logismoi of Leah and Nick, together... I won't describe it.  What's just as bad is seeing them doing things together, having fun, being happy at the same restaurants we used to go to, him sitting in my spot on her couch, while I'm... ahh F it.  I'm letting it happen now.

I just spent about 30 minutes praying and feel somewhat better, a little bit better.  Will these attacks stop once I've been baptized?  the enemy should know that I'm not going to skip my baptism, no matter how horrible I feel.  But if I am baptized while I'm feeling like this, will it 'count'?  Will I be worthy to receive the Holy Gifts?

Leah tentatively asked me (e-mail, she would never call or talk to me in person) if she could attend my baptism, and how could I refuse?  So she and Nick will both be there tomorrow.  God give me strength to endure that.

I'm going to bed now.  I hope I feel better tomorrow.
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« Reply #42 on: May 22, 2010, 03:43:22 PM »

My goodness, I just read this for the first time.

What the others said about satan trying to destroy those who are coming to Christ is correct.  You must be doing something right if something this painful is happening to you right before your baptism.

Go to your baptism knowing that you are entering into a relationship that is purer and better than any other relationship you will ever have.  When you are told to spit on satan, think about how you are letting him know that he could throw evil like this your way, but you won't let it get in between you and Christ.

With regard to the girl, she's not worth crying over.  Of course you are going to mourn the death of your relationship with her, because it is natural to mourn such a thing.  However, any girl who would leave a man for his friend is not someone you want to end up with.  If you had married her, you would not have been able to trust her.  I strongly suspect that other people in your parish who have seen what she did don't have a good opinion of her.  At least in my parish that would be the case.  I know this is hard, but you can even think of it as a good thing, in that you were kept from making what could have been a horrible mistake.

Also, your friend who is now with her is not really a friend, but of course you don't need me to tell you that.

As a Christian, you need to forgive them and love them.  That will take time, and as long as you feel you can't do this, you must pray for God to help you forgive and love.  It will take time, perhaps years, but you need to pray for it.  Give your friend the icon.

However, just because you are supposed to love and forgive them, that doesn't mean you have to hang out with them, or enjoy being with them when you have to because of choir.  You have to put up with their presence, but don't feel guilty when you are not happy being with them.

You're a talented and nice man.  I have no doubt you will find another very lovely girl who is more worthy of your love.

 
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« Reply #43 on: May 22, 2010, 06:20:06 PM »

Quote
25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
Matthew 14

I always think of this story during times of almost unbearable trouble.  If I don't focus my life, my eyes, my thoughts, my heart on Christ, I will sink into my troubles, and I will never be in communion with Him.  Don't let this trouble your faith.  Before your baptism, pray to the Lord, "Lord, save me" and you will come out of the waters of baptism risen with the Lord.

This was a lesson from my Servant's Preparatory teacher years ago.

I pray once "you're in the boat" you'll be at peace.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2010, 06:21:48 PM by minasoliman » Logged

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« Reply #44 on: May 27, 2010, 01:17:12 AM »

What religion were you before you decided to go Orthoodx.
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Men may dislike truth, men may find truth offensive and inconvenient, men may persecute the truth, subvert it, try by law to suppress it. But to maintain that men have the final power over truth is blasphemy, and the last delusion. Truth lives forever, men do not.
-- Gustave Flaubert
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