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Author Topic: So what if I'm excited?  (Read 1232 times) Average Rating: 0
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IsmiLiora
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« on: March 08, 2011, 09:07:48 PM »

Everything in my discovery of Orthodoxy has been moving very quickly. I have been praying about finding a church for months, and I started having dreams about my feelings towards past events which revealed that I had been in the wrong church for years. I had what I call a lot of "God" moments, and within a matter of weeks, everything started to click.

I came to some conclusions about certain beliefs and traditions that I previously struggled with, and when my husband and I met with the priest, I was shocked that he was repeating some of those very "conclusions" word for word.

My husband and I are studying everything we can and attending services, as well as meeting with the local priest to talk about the faith. Even though people at the church I attended were very welcoming and happy to have us there, some of the things I heard and read about converts made me feel uncomfortable.

You know, "Some converts burn out." "They're so zealous, just wait until they're Orthodox for a few years." "I can't stand it when people go church hopping and they just pick this church out of the phone book." I know that it's not personally about me, but it definitely hits a nerve.

I know that things are happening quickly, and I'm just observing, but reading and hearing those things make me feel guilty. They make me feel like I shouldn't be as excited as I am, as if there's something wrong with that. I want to read more about the faith every day, but I end up thinking, "Wait, you shouldn't be doing this so fast. They already don't trust you since you were raised Roman Catholic and you became charismatic several years ago. They're probably thinking that you're going to bolt at the first obstacle and go find another church. Slow down. You probably won't be chrismated for a long time, so just SLOW DOWN."

And the other half of me thinks that it's silly. I don't WANT to slow down! I've been there as a convert in general, and I know that things start to get really difficult for most converts at some point. But why would that stop me from trying to do everything possible to join the church and be in communion with God?

I know that there is a process, and I think that it's in place for the right reasons. I'm willing to wait until the priest thinks that I'm ready for my chrismation, whenever that may be. I want to join the Orthodox church for LIFE, not just because it seems good right now. And I know it won't be easy.

I'm just battling with these feelings. I don't know if I'm taking the statements too personally (I can be a bit sensitive in general), but I am scared that I'm going to turn out to be like "those converts" BECAUSE I feel so spiritually "on fire" right now. Because that's what some people say. "Oh, they were on fire in the beginning..."

I suppose this is more of a rant than a question. Have any converts felt the same way that I do?
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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2011, 09:23:01 PM »

I did.  It still took over 2 1/2 years of serious inquiry before I could even become a catechumen.

I think people who are suggesting that you take things slowly are probably trying to be helpful.  I know I have seen quite a few folks burn out before the chrism even hits their forehead.  Sometimes the conversion process can take years for one reason or another (even when you are eager).
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2011, 09:29:47 PM »


Liora, don't listen to all you read.  Now how's that for confusing?

Seriously.

I am a "cradle" Orthodox.  So, I've been Orthodox for over 40 years....and you know what?  I am STILL excited!  Every day I am excited!

I get goosebumps and weak in the knees!

You SHOULD be excited!  You have found salvation....what's not to be excited about?  Be eager, be interested, always learn and always yearn!

I get giddy at times....to the point that everyone smiles and laughs at me.  A deacon whom I had just met, thought I was "cute" and it would wear off.  Later he saw me and asked if I were still as "happy"....and I couldn't stop smiling...so, he nicknamed me "Khvora - Хвора", which means "sick".  He didn't mean it in a bad way, and I didn't take it as such.  I actually thought it fit me perfectly.

So, there you have it.  I am sick with excitement!

Wink
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2011, 09:39:47 PM »

Liza, that's so cool.   Grin

Seriously, Liora, there's a honeymoon phase, to be sure, but that doesn't mean that you have to get bored and jaded later on, any more than one has to stop being in love with the person they married ten, twenty, fifty years down the road.  The way you behave may be different--less overtly lovey dovey, less "gushy," perhaps, and a bit more realistic about expectations about what the receiver of your love can do or be (whether a person or the Church)--but there will still be things you can look for that remind you why you came to love the Church in the first place.

So hang on to those things, whatever they are.  For me, it will always be the Mother of God and the Eucharist's being the very body and blood of Christ.  Those two things were non-existent for me as a Protestant, and I can't imaging being a Christian without those things now.  There's more, but you get the idea.

Welcome to the search.  Be ready to have your wide-eyed love tested by real, flesh-and-blood people who will, sadly, let you down, be they the person next to you in the nave, or the head of your archdiocese or jurisdiction, whichever that is.  But Christ is here, the Mother of God is here, the saints are here, and good, honest people are here, too; make the most of all that when times come (and they will, if you are around long enough) when you get bored, or get hurt, or get disillusioned.

And welcome to the forum, btw.
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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2011, 12:06:09 AM »

Liora,
I understand your feelings. I was very much the same way going into Catholicism, now I'm looking into Orthodoxy, a little less than a year after being confirmed. Research is good. Study is good. Getting into the services and the life of the Church is good. All that together is fantastic. However, the worst thing you can do for yourself is set an early date for chrismation or conversion; the longer the better! Gives you more time to think about all your options, and time to see how your feelings grow and change. I was confirmed as a Roman Catholic one week shy of a liturgical year after my first Mass, and even then I was grappling with whether or not Orthodoxy had the claim to being the true church; a lot of that was my fault for not bowing out of RCIA, or realizing I could have done so with no consequence. It was moreso hastiness and trying to set an early deadline.

In short, there is nothing wrong with throwing yourself headlong into Orthodoxy. But throwing yourself headlong into it and declaring yourself a swimmer without having first tested how well you react to lots of strenuous swimming, and how you react to being in the water, is dangerous.
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« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2011, 12:17:01 AM »

Liora,

 The answer is Yes---It can continue as you live the Holy Faith day by day and gain greater love and Wisdom through Christ. I am a convert for over 20 years and I am still excited and joyful.

Welcome to the forum!

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« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2011, 12:19:31 AM »

Stay excited, Liora; but know how to channel it.

Two people can fall "in love" at first sight; I've met plenty of people who have experienced that.  There's an energy - palpable energy - that is between them in that moment.  They can see each other for a week, every day, multiple hours per day.  The energy builds.

They can tie the knot after a week and maybe they will remain married and in love for their whole lives; but maybe it will not work, because they have not invested the time in thorough investigation of themselves, the other person, and their relationship, and they make a mistake which can hurt the other person, or they can make a mistaken assumption which drives them away from the other person.

However, if they remained in the relationship for, say, two years without committing to engagement, and then became engaged, there is a significantly higher chance that they'll stay together - they've "slowed down," against their urges, but through slowing down they experienced more of the other person's life, personality, etc., and learned more about themselves and the relationship.

So, too, with you and Orthodoxy.  The faith won't make mistakes, but maybe some well-meaning parishioner or priest will, or maybe you will.  It will be better for you to take the time and know the faith as well as you'd wish to know a potential mate, or a business partner with whom you are investing your life savings - experience the faith, read, attend, pray, and progress together toward the common goal (theosis, no?).  Do this in a relationship - with the local parish, with the priest, with the parishioners, etc.  While you may have the urge to convert in a month's time, stay the course - delaying your conversion doesn't indicate that you love the Lord less, but maybe, in the context, more.  Form a plan with your priest and your husband and stick to it.

We'll be here to support you.
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« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2011, 12:24:40 AM »

Thanks for the responses. I really appreciate them.   Cheesy I know that I'll return to this thread several times when those feelings start to creep up again.

I did want to clarify that I am not trying to rush chrismation! As a former Catholic myself and slightly familiar with the RCIA, I thought that it would at least be a year before anything happened. But I am diving headlong into study and researching every aspect of the Church's history, traditions, and rituals. I'm glad that I have my husband (who is just as excited as I am!) as a sounding board, or else I fear that I'll be talking everyone's ears off about my experiences.

We don't have any friends or family members who are Orthodox, so this is such a new thing for us. I think that certainly lends to our joy!

I tell others that I am "on the journey," and a long journey it may be indeed! But I'm excited and I pray that I will be completely spiritually ready on the day that I'm chrismated.

My prayers with you, Wandering Sheep. That must have been quite a battle in your heart, between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. It's a good thing to see this as a life decision and tread carefully, as you said, being "tested." And I'm sure that there will be a lot of that in this Lenten season.
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« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2011, 01:02:55 AM »

If your excitement is leading you to a long journey in the Church, then there is really no reason you should slow down. So what if they don't trust you? If you're prepared to prove them wrong, then you should do so. What people think of you doesn't matter all that much in comparison to your objective reality and what God thinks of you.
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« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2011, 02:21:27 AM »


Liora, don't listen to all you read.  Now how's that for confusing?

Seriously.

I am a "cradle" Orthodox.  So, I've been Orthodox for over 40 years....and you know what?  I am STILL excited!  Every day I am excited!

I get goosebumps and weak in the knees!

You SHOULD be excited!  You have found salvation....what's not to be excited about?  Be eager, be interested, always learn and always yearn!

I get giddy at times....to the point that everyone smiles and laughs at me.  A deacon whom I had just met, thought I was "cute" and it would wear off.  Later he saw me and asked if I were still as "happy"....and I couldn't stop smiling...so, he nicknamed me "Khvora - Хвора", which means "sick".  He didn't mean it in a bad way, and I didn't take it as such.  I actually thought it fit me perfectly.

So, there you have it.  I am sick with excitement!

Wink


Liza, you are an inspiration to us all! Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2011, 12:21:38 PM »

Thank you all.

I've seen that there are clergy members on the board. Is it possible that I can ask a question privately (through the private messaging system)? It's a very serious matter, and I hope that our conversation will remain confidential.

Please send me a message if you can talk. Thank you.

Liora
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« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2011, 01:15:59 PM »

I'm so glad you wrote this thread!! I'm terrible at articulating my thoughts so thank you for doing it for me. The confusion gets to me also but everything must be taken in stride. In step one of  The Ladder ... St. John says to start running as soon as you feel that zeal and keep running. Obviously things will get hard and you'll feel despondent at some point, but if you are able to get off to a good start I think your chances of overcoming an issue are much higher.

If your excitement is leading you to a long journey in the Church, then there is really no reason you should slow down. So what if they don't trust you? If you're prepared to prove them wrong, then you should do so. What people think of you doesn't matter all that much in comparison to your objective reality and what God thinks of you.

I totally agree. I've been going to a parish that is basically ALL Russian and everyone speaks in Russian and I don't think I have heard anyone other than the priest speak in English. I get funny looks like I'm out of place, but I don't care. God is my only judge and I will seek him where I can, as much as I can.
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« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2011, 03:02:45 PM »

Liora,

I'm in the same boat as you, and this is something I've gotten myself worked up about before.

 I huffed and puffed on the fence for a while, but now that I've hopped over, I'm wild about it, and now I think that's absolutely natural. I think the whole idea that converts get too zealous and burn out is way overplayed. I would imagine that ALL converts get super-excited and super zealous; after all, we're finding only the most important thing we'll ever find in our lives here and hereafter.

All converts that burn out were probably super-zealous, just like all converts that don't burn out were that way. I think that when someone who is so intense about something suddenly changes course, it is noticeable, and surprising, and people take note of it, hence the generalizations.

Above all, I think that having self-awareness is a good sign that you're not doing anything blindly.

We're going after God! Let's keep running! I believe that if God is in the Orthodox Church, where I believe him to be, and my heart and soul are where they need to be, searching for Him, then there is nothing to burn out: He is infinite!

In Christ,
Jim
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« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2011, 03:15:04 PM »

Liora,
    Welcome to the forum! You'll find that there is a wealth of knowledge and love here. Your story mimics my own to a near startling point.  Grin My wife and I have been enquirers for around 6 months, and are still in the same boat...devouring everything we can find on the Church! I'm not so sure that we should be so excited about fasting for Great Lent....but it's already been such an amazing experience for us. So I understand exactly how you feel. That being said, I do think that those telling you to slow down are doing so with your best interests at heart. You didn't really elaborate, but how much have you spoken to your priest concerning moving forward in the Faith? He should be able to give you the best "cruising speed" for your development. Orthodoxy doesn't have an equivalent to the RCIA in most jurisdictions that I'm aware of...but rather has a more personal and focused Catechesis period that, in my experience, is geared toward individual growth in the Faith. In my case, though I would be willing to join immediately...I am also finding that there is so much still to learn. In fact, I have embraced the deliberate nature of my conversion because I am finding that I not only better appreciate the Church that I am coming into...but that I have a deeper, love, devotion, and hunger for the Sacraments that await me once my journey has indeed made it to that level.

I am excited for, and with, you on this journey. May God richly bless your family, and may this time of Lent allow us all to grow deeper into the true Faith.
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« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2011, 07:32:27 PM »

I totally agree. I've been going to a parish that is basically ALL Russian and everyone speaks in Russian and I don't think I have heard anyone other than the priest speak in English. I get funny looks like I'm out of place, but I don't care. God is my only judge and I will seek him where I can, as much as I can.

That's not to say that seeking fellowship and understanding with our fellow worshipers is not important, I'm just saying that when they are suspicious of you, you should not be bothered or dismayed by it.
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« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2011, 07:40:04 PM »

I totally agree. I've been going to a parish that is basically ALL Russian and everyone speaks in Russian and I don't think I have heard anyone other than the priest speak in English. I get funny looks like I'm out of place, but I don't care. God is my only judge and I will seek him where I can, as much as I can.

That's not to say that seeking fellowship and understanding with our fellow worshipers is not important, I'm just saying that when they are suspicious of you, you should not be bothered or dismayed by it.

I agree.
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« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2011, 09:19:49 PM »

Liora,
 You didn't really elaborate, but how much have you spoken to your priest concerning moving forward in the Faith? He should be able to give you the best "cruising speed" for your development.
Well, this is what I said in our 5th or 6th meeting.

"Well, so what if I want to join the Church?"

I think his eyeballs rolled out of his head. I wasn't aware that the process was more...informal (can't think of a better term) than the RCIA, and I thought that I would have to sign up for a year or classes. I just wanted to make my commitment to joining the Church and go on that path.

He told me that we would talk more about it when he believed that we were ready (I won't lie; that vague answer was NOT easy to hear) and that when he approved, we would start planning the Baptism (my husband needs to get baptized), Chrismation, and our eventual marriage in the Church. I took it to mean that it would happen within a few weeks or months after he thought we were ready.

And I think at first he thought that I wanted to join RIGHT AWAY!  Shocked I mean, yeah, but I know that there's a process involved which will benefit us.  Cheesy

So, we're just studying with him right now, observing Lent, learning more about the Church and just putting our faith to the test over the next few months/years.

I know that the comments about converts were not made about me personally, but I think that it's showing my own fear that I'll burn out. Like I said, I never want to look for another church again. I'm finished. I hope that Orthodoxy is my last stop.
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« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2011, 06:36:11 AM »

I know that the comments about converts were not made about me personally, but I think that it's showing my own fear that I'll burn out. Like I said, I never want to look for another church again. I'm finished. I hope that Orthodoxy is my last stop.

I understand that feeling.  And there have been times I've felt the "pull" of being in groups with more resources, more manpower, more activities, etc.  But I keep coming back to the thought, But this is the Church.

Again, advice my mother gave me during my time when I was dating the woman who would become my wife (going on 9 years of marriage now) applies to our lives in the Church: Date with your eyes wide open; live married with your eyes half shut.
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« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2011, 07:04:29 AM »

Quote from: DavidBryan link=topic=34267.msg542496#msg542496
Again, advice my mother gave me during my time when I was dating the woman who would become my wife (going on 9 years of marriage now) applies to our lives in the Church: Date with your eyes wide open; live married with your eyes half shut.

That's very, very wise!
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« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2011, 10:30:01 AM »

Liora,

It is not uncommon for  a person to be made a catechumen and remain that for 1-2 years. In my parish it averages about a year. One must remember that when one is a catechumen, they have become part ofthe Church family. They are like an infant leaerning day by day. If a catechumen where to die while being a catechumen, they are buried as an Orthodox Christian, they were baptized by their faith, belief , and desire. When one completes the catechumenate, they graduate into full communion with the Church and are able to access all the sacraments.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary gives the definition as follows:  from Greek katēchoumenos cat·e·chu·men noun \ka-te-kyü-men\
Definition of CATECHUMEN
1: a convert to Christianity receiving training in doctrine and discipline before baptism
2: one receiving instruction in the basic doctrines of Christianity before admission to communicant membership in a church

As an instructor in my parish for some of the catechumen classes I can not tell you the full benefit of the Orthodox Catechumenate in providing a good basis for living an Orthodox Christian Life style. A good catechumenate will greatly increase the joy you have in practicing the faith.

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« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2011, 12:19:30 PM »

Liora,

It is not uncommon for  a person to be made a catechumen and remain that for 1-2 years. In my parish it averages about a year. One must remember that when one is a catechumen, they have become part ofthe Church family. They are like an infant leaerning day by day. If a catechumen where to die while being a catechumen, they are buried as an Orthodox Christian, they were baptized by their faith, belief , and desire. When one completes the catechumenate, they graduate into full communion with the Church and are able to access all the sacraments.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary gives the definition as follows:  from Greek katēchoumenos cat·e·chu·men noun \ka-te-kyü-men\
Definition of CATECHUMEN
1: a convert to Christianity receiving training in doctrine and discipline before baptism
2: one receiving instruction in the basic doctrines of Christianity before admission to communicant membership in a church

As an instructor in my parish for some of the catechumen classes I can not tell you the full benefit of the Orthodox Catechumenate in providing a good basis for living an Orthodox Christian Life style. A good catechumenate will greatly increase the joy you have in practicing the faith.

Thomas
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In my encouragement of your and my own "excitement", I am not in any way trying to contradict these sentiments, BTW. I think one can remain plenty motivated and excited without becoming antsy about the length of one's catechumenate.
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-Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
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« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2011, 12:59:32 PM »

Thanks for the definition, Thomas. Now I'll admit, I am a little confused.

The priest never specifically referred to us as catechumens. Is there some sort of formal announcement or decision?

I have put myself simply as an inquirer because there was no specific mention. However, we have been frank with our priest about wanting to join the Church after meeting with him for a couple of months. Is there a certain point where he will declare us catechumens or are we at that point already?

I'd feel silly asking him  Undecided Perhaps if he hasn't said anything after a couple more months of us attending the Divine Liturgy and meeting with him, I can bring it up again...we're still going full steam ahead so perhaps having the official title doesn't matter so much at the moment.
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She's touring the facility/and picking up slack.
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"For in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow." Ecclesiastes 1:18
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I once believed in causes too, I had my pointless point of view --
Life went on no matter who was wrong or right
Thomas
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« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2011, 05:06:03 PM »

When we came into the Orthodox Church we were made catechumen just before we were chrismated in the Greek Orthodox Church back in late 1980s. Since then I have attended ROCOR, OCA, and for the last 10+ years attended an Antiochian Orthodox Church. In The ROCOR, OCA, and Antiochian jurisdictions it is common for a person to progress from the inquirer level to catechumen with a formal service that makes one a catechumen. The catechumenate lasts  usually around 1-1 1/2 years in most places but it is truly up to the pastoral judgement of the priest, who determines how long your catechumenate is and when he requests the Bishop's permission to baptize, chrismate you. Some bishops have issued specific instructions to their clergy whereas others are less direct in their administration of the catechumenates in their  diocese.

Your Greek Orthodox pastor should be able to explain what the current GOA practice is; the last time I heard they do it all together at one time, much like they do for an infant entering the Church. Father Chris, one of our Administrators is a GOA priest and may be able to enlighten you further.

Thomas
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Your brother in Christ ,
Thomas
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