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Author Topic: How to talk to my mother  (Read 1162 times) Average Rating: 0
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emwcee
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« on: March 25, 2011, 05:32:21 PM »

Hi all.  I'm new here, so I thought I'd introduce myself quickly.  I'm a life-long evangelical.  It was a year ago at Bright Week that my family and I first visited an Orthodox Church, and now my husband (thebigee on this forum) and I are catechumens and will be chrismated on Pascha. I'm a lifelong evangelical, and never dreamed I would make the step, but as one of my new friends says, "You don't find Orthodoxy; Orthodoxy finds you."  You can read my husband's story here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,30107.0.html so I won't go into great detail. But to summarize: Our teenage daughters began asking spiritual questions that shook up our own faith as well, and we ended up finding the answers in Orthodoxy.  Unfortunately, our daughters are still on their search and do not consider themselves Christian at this time, but that's another story.

I dreaded telling people at our former church and also my evangelical friends, but surprisingly most of them have been supportive - to my face at least. There are some people I don't know quite as well, and I figure I don't need to tell them unless they ask - but in evangelical circles (where people often change churches frequently), it's common to ask, "So where do you go to church now?" and so I end up telling more people than I intend to.  One interesting thing I'm finding is that many of them seem to know someone who is Orthodox already.

But then there is my mother.  She is 89 - a lifelong fundamentalist Christian, who is a member of a church that tends to interrogate people about their faith rather than engage in relationships.  I dreaded telling her about our  becoming Orthodox, and I also dreaded telling her about the girls' faith struggles.  I managed to avoid the subject, and even (I admit) told at least one lie, but finally I had to tell her.  Her immediate reaction: "Does your church preach the gospel?" (I said yes, but of course to her "preaching the gospel" means more like giving an altar call), and "The girls need to be in a church where the Word is preached, etc."  (Never mind the fact that they refused to go to our old church but will occasionally come to the Orthodox church.) 

I find myself avoiding her even more now that she knows, because I sense her disapproval, and because I'm constantly on edge, wondering when she is going to bring up the subject.  I'm afraid if I say, "I don't want to talk about it," she will become even more paranoid, because that is what my brother said when he became an agnostic - and because I tend to be a very upfront and honest person, and I'm not good at hiding things from people.

How have people handled their parents in cases like this?  To be truthful, I've always been the "good, little evangelical daughter," and never gave her cause for worry about anything.  I'm sure this has come as quite a shock to her. Any advice would be appreciated.
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« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2011, 05:43:00 PM »


Thankfully, I have never had to deal with this particular hardship, however, if I might give a suggestion...

What if you simply start the conversation with her.  I've never been an Evangelical, and really don't know what they preach in church...

However, what if you simply started..."Mom, today in church we heard the Gospel of St. John about...."
Maybe, that would give her some comfort that you are learning about the Gospel.

Don't ignore her.  She's getting up in years, and most likely has only a few years left.  I don't want you to regret having missed those years with her.

Just be cheery and excited and talk so much about what you've heard and learned in church...that she won't have a chance to complain.  Maybe she'll even learn something from you.

I'd wish you good luck...but, there is no such thing.

May the Lord have mercy and guide your words and actions.

Welcome to the forum!   Wink

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« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2011, 06:48:55 PM »

Welcome to the forum!

I can definitely relate to what you are saying. Although I was baptized in the Church as an infant, my mother and her sisters are Protestant, and there is never a family gathering without a Theological debate.

The best you can do is be loving and honest about your faith. Liza had sound advice; be open and forthcoming about what we do in Church, and what the priest's sermon is.

Although we have a lot more "window dressings" at the core, there are similarities between the two. Build bridges on your shared faith in Christ rather than tearing them down over the differences. After all, you still believe that Christ is the Son of God, you still pray, you still read scripture, and you still love the Lord.

Reassure your mother of these things. In regards to "is the Gospel preached?" Almost every single line from the Liturgy is a quote from scripture. So you can honestly assure her that the Bible is used throughout the service.
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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2011, 10:47:32 AM »

yes. i don't yet have any orthodox relatives, so i totally understand this.
you just have to put up with all the accusations of idol worship and heresy, and keep loving them and showing them good things you have learnt in church, eg. a sermon that helped you to really love your enemies or a prayer that helps you to focus on God and overcome sin.
don't look for arguments (better to wait till they notice your good behaviour and ask what changed), but peacefully and patiently answer their questions.
by doing this, and suffering (even if only slightly) for your faith, you will receive a reward from God.
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Shiranui117
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2011, 09:16:16 PM »

I'll second all the advice given here.

One thing you should tell her right off the bat, is that you're becoming Orthodox to move closer to Jesus in your relationship with Him. You're undertaking this journey to grow closer to Him, and to be guided to where you feel the Holy Spirit is leading you. She is concerned about your relationship with God, and with your salvation, as she rightly should; let her know that you are converting to Orthodoxy precisely because you want your relationship with God to be better, and because you can grow and live as a Christian much better in the Orthodox Church. Regardless of what she may feel about Orthodoxy's teachings, she won't complain if it increases your faith in God and His Word. Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2011, 12:03:50 PM »

I can relate to this, as well. My family is, was and probably ever shall be Lutheran, so you can imagine the reaction when I told my elderly mother.
What I have done is not confront her or argue but when we talk about our day, for example, I share a story about my Sunday School students or I tell her we're going to church for Lenten services and a meal. I talk about it as I would anything else.
If she asks a question, I answer as humbly and as non-confrontationally as possible.
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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2011, 12:43:25 PM »

This is something I struggle with. I see the dogmatic and historical differences as so glaring, that alone brought me to Orthodoxy. My mother isn't as concerned with those sorts of things so it was a learning process to understand how I need to talk with her. I asked for prayers from the Theotokos so often because I thought her motherly heart would soften my moms, but I ended up seeing the need for my heart to be softer. To love my mom more when I spoke with her. Now she doesn't think I'm joining a cult and when she asks questions she actually wants to know the answer. In summary, love your mother. Love her and practice loving her and the right words will spring forth.
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« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2011, 01:25:11 PM »

I asked for prayers from the Theotokos so often because I thought her motherly heart would soften my moms, but I ended up seeing the need for my heart to be softer...In summary, love your mother. Love her and practice loving her and the right words will spring forth.

Amen!
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« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2011, 06:09:08 PM »

My mother knew that we became Orthodox in 1989. She moved in with us in 1996 and when we learned that she was terminally ill I began to work with her about how she wanted to buried. She was Episcopalian. Over the last 1-2 years that she was with us, I noticed that she had begun to cross herself as an Orthodox Christian would---I assumed it was old age but at the urging of one of my daughters, I finally asked the question, would she like to be an Orthodox Christian. She looked at me and said, "Yes! I was wondering when you would get around to asking me."

Mom was catechized quickly by a local priest due to her age and  entered into the Holy Orthodox Faith. She took three communions and reposed in the Lord on the Saturday before her fourth communion. She had made her peace with everyone she could and died with  thanks to my wife on her lips for the loving care she had given her in our home. He passing was truely a Holy death without pain, simply a deep breath and an exhale and her spirit left her body. Her Orthodox funeral was perhaps the greatest witness to our non-orthodox family of the sacred  beliefs and practices of the Orthodox Church that she had embraced shortly before her death.

In the long run we never know what our  family reaction in the long run will be. I know I was unaware that my mother would enter the Holy Church before she died until I asked that golden question and she said "Yes" I was wondering when you would get around to asking me."

Thomas
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« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2011, 08:49:40 PM »

I know that my mom would never have accepted Orthodoxy as being "too Catholic" for her. However she died years before I even started searching. So she essentially has beaten me to it!!
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« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2011, 12:32:06 AM »

Thank you so much for your replies.  This weekend when I went to visit her, I asked my husband to go along. Both of us prayed before our visit.  She asked the usual questions: "How do you like your new church?" and "Does it preach the gospel?"  My husband confidently answered, "You know our services are almost entirely from the Bible, so if that isn't a Bible-teaching church, I don't know what is."  She seemed to accept that, and dropped the subject (for now).
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« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2011, 09:05:11 AM »

Thank you so much for your replies.  This weekend when I went to visit her, I asked my husband to go along. Both of us prayed before our visit.  She asked the usual questions: "How do you like your new church?" and "Does it preach the gospel?"  My husband confidently answered, "You know our services are almost entirely from the Bible, so if that isn't a Bible-teaching church, I don't know what is."  She seemed to accept that, and dropped the subject (for now).

That's a good response. 

It's a tough situation.  You have to honor your mother, but you also have to be faithful to your conscience and, ultimately, to Christ.  I think handling it in that manner -- assuaging her fears while still being firm that "this is where we are now and we aren't going anywhere" is probably the best approach, however you are able to accomplish that.
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« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2011, 10:57:16 AM »

I unserstand what your going through.  I went through a similar situatin with my mother.  she was pretty anti-religous.  she believed in God and called herself a Christian, but she didn't believe people had to go to Church, and didn't have any good examples of religous people in her life.  I went through quite the ordeal with her because she thought I was "too Catholic" when I made the sign of the cross and started saying my prayers every day.  but, with ALOT of prayer, she came around.  she's not in line to be chrismated or anything (like my father Smiley  )  but she accepts it.  she lets me put MANY holes in my wall for icons.  she was also going to let me burn incense from Church, but I'm not going to because of her allergies. 

pray alot for your mother and your family (especially your brother).  they will accept you. 

read the gospels and get to know the Church and her saints. 

and remember what our Lord said "Blessed are you when you are persecuted for my sake". 

we all have crosses to bare, yiour other just might be yours. 

Lord, have mercy!
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« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2011, 04:05:27 PM »

good work, trevor (can i call u trevor for short?!)
may God bless your family and friends during lent, and keep firm in the love of God.
i didn't know we could burn incense at home, is it allowed? or is it a different sort of incense than the one in church?
please pray for my family too.
mabsoota
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« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2011, 06:07:41 PM »

good work, trevor (can i call u trevor for short?!)
may God bless your family and friends during lent, and keep firm in the love of God.
i didn't know we could burn incense at home, is it allowed? or is it a different sort of incense than the one in church?
please pray for my family too.
mabsoota
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of corse, you can call me Trevor!

I've heard that the Coptic Church forbids laymen from burning incense (only the priest can).  but in the EO Church, we can burn incense, the same as used in Church.  we cannot swing a censor, but they do make hand censers for home devotional use. 

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"It is true that I am not always faithful, but I never lose courage, I leave myself in the Arms of Our Lord." - St. Thérèse of Lisieux
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