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Author Topic: Building an Orthodox Community as a Catechumen  (Read 559 times) Average Rating: 0
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Karaleighmum
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« on: February 17, 2013, 11:45:20 PM »

Hey y'all. I just got catechized a few weeks ago. I am very excited and such but as of late have experienced sensations of isolation and loneliness. None of my friends from before are Orthodox, hardly any of them Christian at all. All of them are respectful of my path, some are even curious to know more (which is really exciting for me and quite the honor to share with them). And at the parish I go to, which is amazing, very small and intimate with kind people, but it feels hard to connect lately because I am young, single, and have a almost one year old. So the people who have kids, are typically a bit older than I and married (though still very warm and welcoming). But the people my age, who I would normally draw near, do not have kids so it's kinda a different sort of friendship I guess. ANy ideas on how I could better relate? I have been praying and such, and I never really get one on one time with the priest. He's always pretty busy I feel. I live in western NC Thanks in advance! (and please, no criticism on the young single mama thing)
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Velsigne
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« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2013, 07:23:08 PM »

Hi karaleighmum,

I'm glad you've found a nice parish to attend!  Thank God!

Seems like you've got two very challenging things in front of you right now.  One is being a young single mom, the other being a catechumen.  The really great part is that your child is going to grow up in the faith.  You will also be 'growing up' in the faith (we all are), and though you're probably a great mother already, you will likely be a better mother as you grow as an Orthodox Christian. 

It's also really good that you are aware of what you are feeling, and not just running out to find something to do to distract yourself from loneliness.  Those are just feelings, and they come and go.  Different people need different levels of social interaction. 

I don't know you and your general life conditions, and I'm not in your parish, so it's difficult for me to see what you are experiencing.  Sometimes people are at different places in life compared to their peers, and I've heard it expressed that it can be quite frustrating and lonely at times.  Sometimes it's a person in their twenties watching all their parish friends get married and have children, then suddenly, everything is different, and they haven't found the spouse for them.  What they do is stick with it, and they get involved in other appropriate activities for them.  They live Orthodoxy, but the parish is not their social mainstay.  Having a child is a full time 'activity' though, and sometimes mothers just need to talk with other adults.   A parent, especially a single parent, really does get a lot of opportunities to "deny yourself and take up your cross".   And yes, that is a gross understatement.  Ideally, parents have each other, and when you don't have the 'other' half, you have to be more self reliant and learn to trust God all the more. 

Sounds like you are keeping contact with your previous friends, and that is good.  There isn't any reason you can't be friends with people who don't share your beliefs.  Doesn't sound like they've given you any reason to not be friends. 

Sorry, that's not a pat solution.  Just take it slow, be steady and patient.  Feelings come and go, and part of the Orthodox way is that it isn't just about our feelings.  You will have some outright temptation as you draw closer to Christ and His Church.  That is typical, not that temptation isn't there after one is Orthodox, it's just that we learn better skills to deal with it, spiritual warfare, and we have the Sacraments to help us as well.  At first we're not very well armed, so we learn from others and pray, and with God's grace we grow.  As a catechumen, the entire church is praying for you every Divine Liturgy, and I will be remembering you too.

There is actually a lot in Orthodoxy that will ultimately help you navigate better in the world.  I've been pretty amazed by it.  Sometimes I was inwardly eye-rolling and thinking how stupid some of our social parish gathering activities are, but later found that exact skill to be very useful in a challenging work situation. 

The goal is Christ, and if we make some good and true friends along the way, it's a bonus. 

May God bless you and your beautiful child.
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choy
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« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2013, 07:43:46 PM »

Hey y'all. I just got catechized a few weeks ago. I am very excited and such but as of late have experienced sensations of isolation and loneliness. None of my friends from before are Orthodox, hardly any of them Christian at all. All of them are respectful of my path, some are even curious to know more (which is really exciting for me and quite the honor to share with them). And at the parish I go to, which is amazing, very small and intimate with kind people, but it feels hard to connect lately because I am young, single, and have a almost one year old. So the people who have kids, are typically a bit older than I and married (though still very warm and welcoming). But the people my age, who I would normally draw near, do not have kids so it's kinda a different sort of friendship I guess. ANy ideas on how I could better relate? I have been praying and such, and I never really get one on one time with the priest. He's always pretty busy I feel. I live in western NC Thanks in advance! (and please, no criticism on the young single mama thing)

Well, I guess you really have to embrace being a parent which means you have to hang out with the older crowd.  I can imagine that when my kids go to school that it will be the same at PTA meetings.  Some of the parents will be young and some will be older.  In our parish there are many couples with kids and the ages are spread around.  We are only starting so we don't have any close relationships as of yet but you get to talk a little bit with some of the parents about the kids.  Sometimes you just have to be patient, sometimes you have to be the one who makes the first move.  I remember my former bishop telling me about that.  Sometimes you have to invite people to your home or to have lunch or whatever just to build that relationship.  Sometimes you'd have to make that first move.
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Karaleighmum
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« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2013, 11:34:51 PM »

Hi karaleighmum,

I'm glad you've found a nice parish to attend!  Thank God!

Seems like you've got two very challenging things in front of you right now.  One is being a young single mom, the other being a catechumen.  The really great part is that your child is going to grow up in the faith.  You will also be 'growing up' in the faith (we all are), and though you're probably a great mother already, you will likely be a better mother as you grow as an Orthodox Christian. 

It's also really good that you are aware of what you are feeling, and not just running out to find something to do to distract yourself from loneliness.  Those are just feelings, and they come and go.  Different people need different levels of social interaction. 

I don't know you and your general life conditions, and I'm not in your parish, so it's difficult for me to see what you are experiencing.  Sometimes people are at different places in life compared to their peers, and I've heard it expressed that it can be quite frustrating and lonely at times.  Sometimes it's a person in their twenties watching all their parish friends get married and have children, then suddenly, everything is different, and they haven't found the spouse for them.  What they do is stick with it, and they get involved in other appropriate activities for them.  They live Orthodoxy, but the parish is not their social mainstay.  Having a child is a full time 'activity' though, and sometimes mothers just need to talk with other adults.   A parent, especially a single parent, really does get a lot of opportunities to "deny yourself and take up your cross".   And yes, that is a gross understatement.  Ideally, parents have each other, and when you don't have the 'other' half, you have to be more self reliant and learn to trust God all the more. 

Sounds like you are keeping contact with your previous friends, and that is good.  There isn't any reason you can't be friends with people who don't share your beliefs.  Doesn't sound like they've given you any reason to not be friends. 

Sorry, that's not a pat solution.  Just take it slow, be steady and patient.  Feelings come and go, and part of the Orthodox way is that it isn't just about our feelings.  You will have some outright temptation as you draw closer to Christ and His Church.  That is typical, not that temptation isn't there after one is Orthodox, it's just that we learn better skills to deal with it, spiritual warfare, and we have the Sacraments to help us as well.  At first we're not very well armed, so we learn from others and pray, and with God's grace we grow.  As a catechumen, the entire church is praying for you every Divine Liturgy, and I will be remembering you too.

There is actually a lot in Orthodoxy that will ultimately help you navigate better in the world.  I've been pretty amazed by it.  Sometimes I was inwardly eye-rolling and thinking how stupid some of our social parish gathering activities are, but later found that exact skill to be very useful in a challenging work situation. 

The goal is Christ, and if we make some good and true friends along the way, it's a bonus. 

May God bless you and your beautiful child.

Thank you so much for your warmth and generosity in wisdom and support. I really appreciate it. We met with our priest today to chat about stuff, spiritual warfare mainly, and it's "ironic" y'all said some similar things. And I definitely appreciate the friends I have now, and have no intention s of replacing or losing them, I just feel that it will be nice to form some stronger bonds with people who are walking the same road as I. And yes, my son is what led me to faith in a way, when I conceived I wanted to have an established foundation to raise him on , so I started exploring religions more and came here to Truth. I just can not thank you enough for your words, it really helped soothe my soul. Glory be to God in the Highest!!

God bless you!
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Karaleighmum
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« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2013, 11:35:52 PM »

Hey y'all. I just got catechized a few weeks ago. I am very excited and such but as of late have experienced sensations of isolation and loneliness. None of my friends from before are Orthodox, hardly any of them Christian at all. All of them are respectful of my path, some are even curious to know more (which is really exciting for me and quite the honor to share with them). And at the parish I go to, which is amazing, very small and intimate with kind people, but it feels hard to connect lately because I am young, single, and have a almost one year old. So the people who have kids, are typically a bit older than I and married (though still very warm and welcoming). But the people my age, who I would normally draw near, do not have kids so it's kinda a different sort of friendship I guess. ANy ideas on how I could better relate? I have been praying and such, and I never really get one on one time with the priest. He's always pretty busy I feel. I live in western NC Thanks in advance! (and please, no criticism on the young single mama thing)

Well, I guess you really have to embrace being a parent which means you have to hang out with the older crowd.  I can imagine that when my kids go to school that it will be the same at PTA meetings.  Some of the parents will be young and some will be older.  In our parish there are many couples with kids and the ages are spread around.  We are only starting so we don't have any close relationships as of yet but you get to talk a little bit with some of the parents about the kids.  Sometimes you just have to be patient, sometimes you have to be the one who makes the first move.  I remember my former bishop telling me about that.  Sometimes you have to invite people to your home or to have lunch or whatever just to build that relationship.  Sometimes you'd have to make that first move.

Thank you, I think that is what is going to happen. I have typically gotten along better with older people anyeway as I have alwasy fit in better with their social scene Wink God has a plan after all <3
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choy
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« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2013, 01:07:46 AM »

Thank you, I think that is what is going to happen. I have typically gotten along better with older people anyeway as I have alwasy fit in better with their social scene Wink God has a plan after all <3

Remember this, not just because they're the long time parishioners it does not mean they are not shy too.
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mabsoota
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« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2013, 03:25:37 PM »

good point.
and remember, there is no encouragement in the Bible or early church for people to hang out with people the same age as themselves.
this is one of the dodgy things about rich-country cultures, as people are encouraged to find 'friends like you'.

i love to hang out with different friends, some younger with young kids, some old and single, some grandparents and just a few nearly-middle-aged-and-no-kids like me.
just crush a few stereotypes and encourage your parish friends to do the same!
 Cool
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dzheremi
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« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2013, 04:05:52 PM »

Exactly. I am in my early 30s and even though there are several other people who are closer to my age in my parish, the two people I've found myself closest to in terms of learning from and spending time with are both in their 60s. I probably wouldn't have gotten to know them as well as I do if we had artificial, age-graded activities that some larger parishes have, or consciously tried to stick with "my own kind" (y'know...all those 30-something year old non-Egyptians/non-Middle Easterners in the Coptic Church Tongue) or something. Community means everybody, from the babies to their grandparents or great grandparents.
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biro
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« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2013, 07:42:00 PM »

good point.
and remember, there is no encouragement in the Bible or early church for people to hang out with people the same age as themselves.
this is one of the dodgy things about rich-country cultures, as people are encouraged to find 'friends like you'.


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choy
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« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2013, 08:03:13 PM »

good point.
and remember, there is no encouragement in the Bible or early church for people to hang out with people the same age as themselves.
this is one of the dodgy things about rich-country cultures, as people are encouraged to find 'friends like you'.

i love to hang out with different friends, some younger with young kids, some old and single, some grandparents and just a few nearly-middle-aged-and-no-kids like me.
just crush a few stereotypes and encourage your parish friends to do the same!
 Cool

A Church is supposed to be a household, a family.  Of course within a family there are people we are more comfortable with than others, not to say we love them any less.
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mabsoota
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« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2013, 02:47:56 PM »

this is true.
but beware of too much comfort!
 Wink
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Tommelomsky
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« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2013, 09:09:23 AM »

As a catechumen, I can say that socializing is important. For now I have spent most time with the native speaking group in our parish, but was yesterday offered volunteer work in church by the russians and are going to ask where they could need a hand.

It is a fine way to get people to know and and become a part of the family that the church is. Too comfortable, no, that is not adviced at all, have been at that path before.

Pray, attend services, make new friends, help out where help is needed and allow personal and within the family growth to happen. Smiley
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