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Author Topic: Losing interest and possibly belief...what to do?  (Read 4232 times) Average Rating: 0
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GabrieltheCelt
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« on: October 19, 2011, 01:52:39 AM »

Well, it's been quite awhile since i've last posted here and I'm really surprised at some of the changes in my life.  Speaking strictly now about my faith in Eastern Orthdoxy (heck in any religion) I find that I really don't care too much about it any more.  The icons, the candles, the incense- it all seems so frivolous and silly to me now days.  I haven't completely given up on God, but I sure as hell feel abandoned by him.  This more than anything has fueled my intense recalcitrant attitude.  Sorry to be so callous and blunt, but I feel that if god ain't got the time for me, I ain't got the time for him.  Like i said earlier, I think I still believe in him, I really have zero inclination to talk to him or even go to church.  I truly never thought that I'd end up here, and not that I like it, but it is what it is I guess.  Is this normal for a seven year convert?  What should I do when I don't really even care too much about it?
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« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2011, 01:55:55 AM »

So what caused this?
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« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2011, 01:56:54 AM »

Have you explored the possibility you might be suffering from depression?
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« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2011, 01:59:44 AM »

How is your mom, Gabriel?  I've prayed for her.  I hope she's doing better.

I think we all go through these spiritually dry times.  Just keep up your spiritual life as best you can.  A prayer offered during a time like this can mean even more than during a time when you feel spiritually stronger.  I know you feel distant from Christ right now, but don't give up on Him.
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« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2011, 02:05:56 AM »

Gabriel, I will be praying for you.  I always have loved reading your posts, and love you, my brother.  God be with you.
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« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2011, 02:31:32 AM »

Here is some very good advice:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,14479.msg205721.html#msg205721

 Smiley


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« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2011, 02:34:35 AM »

It could be the seven-year itch.
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« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2011, 03:29:17 AM »




Amen!

Dear brother, I cannot begin to tell you how much you mean to me, how much you have encouraged me, and how much I respect you. I could quote you Scripture, recommend works of the Fathers, etc., but in times of great doubt and despair sometimes we just need to know that we are loved and that our life is worth living. So, I want you to know that I love you my brother, and your life is definitely worth living- if for no other reason than to be my friend! I need your friendship, wisdom, and support- and I'm sure that I'm not the only one. God is with you dear friend, even if you can't feel it right now. I pass no judgment on you for your crisis of faith. In fact, I think that God is very near to those who are honest about their struggles and doubts. The Psalmists often expressed the same laments.

Contact me anytime brother.

Selam, -GMK-

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« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2011, 03:43:10 AM »

I have a question Gebre, maybe you can go more into depth on "a life worth living". I have trouble explaining this to a close friend of mine who is suffering from depression/suicide.

Sorry to take away the attention off of Gabriel, but it's a good thing you brought it up been meaning to ask.
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« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2011, 04:09:23 AM »

I have a question Gebre, maybe you can go more into depth on "a life worth living". I have trouble explaining this to a close friend of mine who is suffering from depression/suicide.

Sorry to take away the attention off of Gabriel, but it's a good thing you brought it up been meaning to ask.


Every human life is a life is worth living. Many people live unworthy lives while thinking they are indispensible to this world. The vanity. But there are others who spend their lives serving others, seeking God, and striving to live lives that are truly honorable; yet many of these good people sink into depression and despair.

I have been through many times in my own life where everything seemed hopeless. Often I suffered because of my own sins, but I also often suffered for reasons that I could never understand.

There are no easy answers here, and the last thing I want to do is offer some platitudinous advice that comes across as trite and insincere. All I know is that sometimes we have to simply cling to life, cling to God, and cling to Christ, His Cross, and His Church even when we feel like there is no reason to do so. Perhaps there is no greater faith than praying even when we doubt if there is a God to whom we can pray. Perhaps there is no greater faith than choosing to live even when we feel that our lives aren't worth living.

I know that I have really benefitted from Gabriel's wisdom, kindness, and friendship. He is a genuine soul, and that's rare in this world of pretense and poseurs. I want him to know how valuable his life is, and how much God has worked through him to bless and strengthen me. I also want him to know that I value him regardless of the level of his faith. I will never think less of my dear brother!
 

"Lord have mercy."


Selam

« Last Edit: October 19, 2011, 04:10:48 AM by Gebre Menfes Kidus » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2011, 04:57:23 AM »

Selam Gabriel
I do not know your real situation Gabriel , so I am just going to focus on the spiritual side of things and share with you my thoughts.

Gabriel, everyone if loved must be loved for who they are really and that includes God. so he does not want you to stagnate in a spirituality that has its benefits for beginners, but it might not be so for those that must advance, so the Lord comes closer and your senses become obliterated! and me and you being in this world of the senses, we go berserk with panic, and despair, where is that joy we are so used to? where is that feeling that we had before? instead we come face to face with him who seems content to sit watching us in deafening silence and we get tormented because we are so used to the noise. it is given you know in your mind that He is love, and He loves you, you are precious to Him and He cares for ever atom of your being. so what is he doing? it could be that he thinks you need to be in the next class my brother, no more kindergarten for you, he has confidence that you can survive the desert and become a fountain yourself. it could be because he wants you to learn to love, you have searched for him and now that you have found him the bridegroom of your soul wants to teach her how to truly love. but first she must unlearn some of her old habits and beliefs. i think seven year is a good year Gabriel to start the advance class, although God has been there all along, that woman in the gospel bled for 12 years before she was able to touch him in faith and get healed while the rest of the crowed who was crowding him did not touch him in the same manner. so you see every solider gets trained for a time in a good environment that gives them the safe feeling. but the time will come to go to battle. there is no escaping the cross in Christianity. it is where we get perfected, freed from our fallen self for that reason we are baptised, to fulfil the main purpose of our existence: to know how to love. to be beings of Love, Love of God and through it, Love of neighbor and this love requires us to die to self first. that is the hard part for all of us.

do not expect too much from yourself, God will meet you where you are, even if you were to say I will not believe unless i touch!  and prayer does not necessarily have to be in words, on some days, simply sit quietly and practice that silence in his presence. say no words, just be still.

However if you are in a situation where the sadness is unproportional and irrational, it might be a case of depression and for that we need a different strategy, that includes going to the doctor, and visiting your parish priest or have him visit you if possible, in that way you will use both the church and modern medicine to help you.

May the Mother of Light protect and interceed for you my brother.
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« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2011, 05:05:30 AM »

Selam Gabriel
I do not know your real situation Gabriel , so I am just going to focus on the spiritual side of things and share with you my thoughts.

Gabriel, everyone if loved must be loved for who they are really and that includes God. so he does not want you to stagnate in a spirituality that has its benefits for beginners, but it might not be so for those that must advance, so the Lord comes closer and your senses become obliterated! and me and you being in this world of the senses, we go berserk with panic, and despair, where is that joy we are so used to? where is that feeling that we had before? instead we come face to face with him who seems content to sit watching us in deafening silence and we get tormented because we are so used to the noise. it is given you know in your mind that He is love, and He loves you, you are precious to Him and He cares for ever atom of your being. so what is he doing? it could be that he thinks you need to be in the next class my brother, no more kindergarten for you, he has confidence that you can survive the desert and become a fountain yourself. it could be because he wants you to learn to love, you have searched for him and now that you have found him the bridegroom of your soul wants to teach her how to truly love. but first she must unlearn some of her old habits and beliefs. i think seven year is a good year Gabriel to start the advance class, although God has been there all along, that woman in the gospel bled for 12 years before she was able to touch him in faith and get healed while the rest of the crowed who was crowding him did not touch him in the same manner. so you see every solider gets trained for a time in a good environment that gives them the safe feeling. but the time will come to go to battle. there is no escaping the cross in Christianity. it is where we get perfected, freed from our fallen self for that reason we are baptised, to fulfil the main purpose of our existence: to know how to love. to be beings of Love, Love of God and through it, Love of neighbor and this love requires us to die to self first. that is the hard part for all of us.

do not expect too much from yourself, God will meet you where you are, even if you were to say I will not believe unless i touch!  and prayer does not necessarily have to be in words, on some days, simply sit quietly and practice that silence in his presence. say no words, just be still.

However if you are in a situation where the sadness is unproportional and irrational, it might be a case of depression and for that we need a different strategy, that includes going to the doctor, and visiting your parish priest or have him visit you if possible, in that way you will use both the church and modern medicine to help you.

May the Mother of Light protect and interceed for you my brother.



Excellent wisdom dear Hiwot!


Selam
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« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2011, 05:59:55 AM »

Prayer and go to church.  Don't worry about your desire.  Don't worry about your time.

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« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2011, 08:49:41 AM »

Let me scare you back into belief...   consider dear old Asteriktos... do you want to end up like him? I didn't think so. Turn back while you still can! Smiley  (but yes, I know where you're coming from)
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« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2011, 09:33:41 AM »

Dear Gabriel,

Praying.  You're so worth the fight.  

I have a lot I could write, but I know my big clumsy feet would get in His way.  **smiles**   I'll keep it very short:  Have patience with yourself. . .sometimes the best lessons are hard won. . . and take many years - but they are worth it.  It helped me to say the Creed when I woke up every day - and sometimes screamed the Creed at those that would lie to my heart saying that He didn't care and was just using me as a Guinea pig.  

When I got to the end. . .many years later - I learned a heart lesson that was beyond priceless.  He only disciplines those He loves.  He is and was faithful to bring me to where I could not go under my own volition.  Thanks be to God.

He who is able to keep you from falling is the same as He who's arm is not too short to save you.

Peace to you.  Thank God for you.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of  the Living God who is all loving, have mercy on Gabriel, have mercy on his heart, his mind and all of his strength.  

This weekend, God willing, I will send you a PM and perhaps share with you what this struggle did for me. . .perhaps it will encourage you and strengthen you. 

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« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2011, 09:47:56 AM »

Well, it's been quite awhile since i've last posted here and I'm really surprised at some of the changes in my life.  Speaking strictly now about my faith in Eastern Orthdoxy (heck in any religion) I find that I really don't care too much about it any more.  The icons, the candles, the incense- it all seems so frivolous and silly to me now days.  I haven't completely given up on God, but I sure as hell feel abandoned by him.  This more than anything has fueled my intense recalcitrant attitude.  Sorry to be so callous and blunt, but I feel that if god ain't got the time for me, I ain't got the time for him.  Like i said earlier, I think I still believe in him, I really have zero inclination to talk to him or even go to church.  I truly never thought that I'd end up here, and not that I like it, but it is what it is I guess.  Is this normal for a seven year convert?  What should I do when I don't really even care too much about it?


I know you may not like rap music, but this is from a personal friend of mine. I listen to it every now and then, especially during times like these:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cK0Pb8_VYXM (Sho Baraka-Great Day 2 Die Ft.Dillavou)

I only know one of the persons from this group, but this is another song I tend to listen to during hard times:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbktL9NXeBs&feature=channel_video_title (One more day, by bruthaz Grimm) (one of the guys from this group loves Coptic and Ethiopian Crosses)

One of the things I loved about Orthodoxy as an African American was their sense of knowing how to persevere through suffering and pain. That was something I could really relate to. Don't give up brother! Keep moving on during good days and bad days. Rain or shine for trouble doesn't last always! There is a light at the end of the tunnel. This may be your dark night of the soul, but you don't have to walk it alone! For real homie!


« Last Edit: October 19, 2011, 09:59:38 AM by jnorm888 » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2011, 10:16:29 AM »

Gabriel,

I think just about everyone goes through these times. It's part of being a person of faith. We find it frivolous or otherwise useless for some reason or another. We lose our faith, at least in part. Doubt and trouble comes, and we have been warned about it. But remember, "it is good for me to cleave onto God and put my hope of salvation in the Lord."

What should we do when we feel like this? Pray more. Go to church as often as we can. Confess regularly. Maybe even set up an appointment (or a series of regular appointments) with our priest. Church isn't about what we feel like, it's about what we know is true, even in times of doubt (I would actually dare to say, ESPECIALLY in times of doubt!).

Other than what I have already said, I would suggest three things to you. Two of them are rules of Fr. Thomas Hopko. First, as an Orthodox Christian, attempt sincerely to keep his 55 Maxims of Christian living. Just try. Maybe you won't succeed. That's fine, don't worry about it. Just try. Perhaps even more importantly, try to follow his 10 Conditions for Those Seeking to Find God.

And lastly, since you do seem to have fallen into some form of depression or despair, I would encourage you to try and pray the Akathist to Jesus Christ, Light to Those Who Sit in Darkness. This is a very beautiful prayer, one that has helped me. I keep a copy near my home altar at all times.

I will be praying for you as well, brother. May God be with you. Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2011, 10:40:30 AM »

Gabriel!

It's good to see you back on the forum.

You've already gotten a boatload of good advice, but, I just wanted to add my two cents, if you don't mind.

God always has time for you, so you saying He doesn't is incorrect.  You may not notice Him, not because he isn't there, but, because you are distracted and weighed down by many, many things going on in your life.

I know your mother was ailing.  That alone would cause much strife, doubt, worry and anxiety in your life.

You also got married recently.  Just this last summer.  Your life must have completely changed after that.  I know married life is great, and having a partner is wonderful, but, it's still a change, and something you have to take time to get used to.

My friend, you are simply overburdened with "life".  What you are feeling is okay, and it WILL pass.  Just don't erase God from your life.  Instead try to pull Him in even more than before.

The candles, incense, etc....are nice, but, if you are downtrodden, rushed and teetering on the brink, don't bother with them.

God alone, not the accouterments, will grant you peace and salvation.

If the morning is rushed, then mumble a prayer in the car on the way to work.  When standing in line at the checkout, talk to God.  He hears your thoughts.  Don't push him aside.

Perhaps you are doubting because things aren't going as "planned".  Perhaps your plans would have led you to a worse conclusion than what is currently occurring.

We are all praying for you.

Don't despair.

Take your wife to church on Sunday.  Even if you don't feel like it.

Nothing re-energizes like Divine Liturgy.

Praying that the Lord lights your path and you willingly find your way back to the fold.

Asteriktis, you too are going to come back.  I know it.  Mark my words.  
Your heart is deep and you have only encountered a bump in the road.

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« Last Edit: October 19, 2011, 10:40:42 AM by LizaSymonenko » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2011, 10:47:04 AM »

Gabriel:

I'm just coming out of such a period. It lasted for about a year and came to a head about two months ago. I even went so far as to tell my priest that I might suddenly decide to stop coming to church entirely. (I had stopped praying, reading the Bible and attending church, etc.)

He didn't say anything other than to absolve me of my sins (I was in confession) and tell me to let Jesus know I loved Him. I can see why now; it's a feeling he must, himself, have experienced many times, and he knew that there was no appeal to reason he could have made during a crisis in faith: the solution was in God's hands.

My only suggestion to you would be to hang in. I haven't figured out why I went through it, but I have a certain feeling that it was for a very good reason: my faith is stronger now and taking on new dimensions that would have been impossible had I not gone through this funk. I've come to see my faith more as as a fluctuating and dynamic process, moving between states of growth and periods in the desert, than as a static and unchanging condition. Unreflective, untested, belief may not be the deepest or the richest kind of belief. We do not know how God manifests His will for us, but a good guess is "in ways we would never expect."

Please don't give up.
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« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2011, 11:04:52 AM »

Dear Gab, I know - or think I know - how you feel. Been there.

Maybe let it slide for a while. Concentrate on something that you do not view as silly and frivolous. Your work, your family.

My own "spiritually dry times" always passed, sooner or later. In retrospect, I am happy that I had them: they helped me to get rid of my "acute convertitis" signs.

Also, I am sure your parish priest can help you, and I am sure he'd be happy to help. Maybe let him try?
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« Reply #20 on: October 19, 2011, 12:00:38 PM »

I would only say that life is bigger than church. I think it's natural after a while to just become less scrupulous and don't give a damn most of the times. I am kinda like this. Culturally, aspects of Church life are still of interest to me, but the actual practice of religion is a low priority as such. Because I kinda know the spiel now, I still enjoy talking about it although I'm more of a mild agnostic that, would be still willing to make a death-bed confession etc, if given the occasion. You never know...
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« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2011, 12:40:22 PM »

First, I want to thank everyone for the insightful, kind and caring sentiments you shared with me.  I really didn't expect to receive half of what you gave.

I can't really answer the question, 'What caused this?' because I really don't know.  But to answer PeterTheAleut's question, I do have depression; in years past, though it caused some discomfort, it seems to be getting worse as I get older.  Honestly, my wife and mother are the two reasons why I haven't done anything foolish- the devastation left behind would be too great for them.  But that hasn't prevented me from considering all options.  I'm currently awaiting an appointment to have my medication changed because the one I'm on now has made me extremely irritable to where even the small things cause me to rage out. 

Anyway, I don't want to seem melodramatic, but I feel that if God truly knows what we need then why does he make us ask for it? If a parent sees a need in their children they respond to it right away.  A responsible and caring parent doesn't sit back and wait for a plea for help. I don't know; the whole affair seems really co-dependent to me.  God forgive me for having thoughts like these. 

I can see that this situation will either create a deeper, more mature faith in God; one where I'll be able to help others OR I will eventually walk away from it forever, worn down from playing the game too long.

Salpy: thanks for asking about my mother- she is responding well to her cancer treatments.
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« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2011, 12:45:14 PM »

Well, it's been quite awhile since i've last posted here and I'm really surprised at some of the changes in my life.  Speaking strictly now about my faith in Eastern Orthdoxy (heck in any religion) I find that I really don't care too much about it any more.  The icons, the candles, the incense- it all seems so frivolous and silly to me now days.  I haven't completely given up on God, but I sure as hell feel abandoned by him.  This more than anything has fueled my intense recalcitrant attitude.  Sorry to be so callous and blunt, but I feel that if god ain't got the time for me, I ain't got the time for him.  Like i said earlier, I think I still believe in him, I really have zero inclination to talk to him or even go to church.  I truly never thought that I'd end up here, and not that I like it, but it is what it is I guess.  Is this normal for a seven year convert?  What should I do when I don't really even care too much about it?

Dude, I'm totally right there with you..

The big.. "Oh wow it's Orthodoxy, I love it -- it's just so amazing" is totally wearing off on me too.  I've only been Orthodox for 6 months..


As to feeling "abandoned" by him.  Maybe you should share a little more light on what's behind these feelings?  It's up to you as always but clearly these feelings don't just appear out of no where.  

I got a lot of doubts too, I don't know my head from a hole in the ground.  How "Orthodoxy" won the day, and not all of these other Christian "heresies" is a wonder to me..

Sometimes I don't even feel God anymore when I pray.  Maybe I'm just holding on to things, who knows..
but I would also have the willpower.. to stand up and keep praying until my legs collapsed out from under me if I had to.

Maybe we all need to beat on God's chest, the way a little kid beats on their Dad's chest?  "Hey! You answer me now!".. I once read somewhere, that even the prophet Jeremiah shook his fists at God...

So believe me, we're not alone.  Even the best of saints have gone through times like these..
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« Reply #23 on: October 19, 2011, 12:49:24 PM »

I think everyone goes through this from time to time. If you get a chance, consider going to Confession. It is a very powerful means of mercy.
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« Reply #24 on: October 19, 2011, 12:49:58 PM »

First, I want to thank everyone for the insightful, kind and caring sentiments you shared with me.  I really didn't expect to receive half of what you gave.

I can't really answer the question, 'What caused this?' because I really don't know.  But to answer PeterTheAleut's question, I do have depression; in years past, though it caused some discomfort, it seems to be getting worse as I get older.  Honestly, my wife and mother are the two reasons why I haven't done anything foolish- the devastation left behind would be too great for them.  But that hasn't prevented me from considering all options.  I'm currently awaiting an appointment to have my medication changed because the one I'm on now has made me extremely irritable to where even the small things cause me to rage out. 

Anyway, I don't want to seem melodramatic, but I feel that if God truly knows what we need then why does he make us ask for it? If a parent sees a need in their children they respond to it right away.  A responsible and caring parent doesn't sit back and wait for a plea for help. I don't know; the whole affair seems really co-dependent to me.  God forgive me for having thoughts like these. 


free will??  Often times though we are given what we need, even when we think we aren't.  I remember that there's a verse that says God will never put on you more than you can bear.. (and most people are thinking "hah, are you sure that I'm able to bear this much?" but remember.. whatever you're going through right now, it'll pass -- and things will get better.  Just trust.. because God really does care... that's certainly what the whole idea of the Incarnation is about.  
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« Reply #25 on: October 19, 2011, 03:06:43 PM »

good answers. the orthodox way may seem hard to those who are used to more emotional ways of expressing themselves. orthodoxy focuses more on spiritual discipline and slow, long-lasting improvements in life.
when you are low, tell God how you feel and then focus on something else, helping someone who needs a ride (lift) to the hospital, translating something for a friend, taking the neighbour's dog for a walk, or anything that takes you away from focusing on yourself.
if you have had problems with your mood, speak to a doctor, and stop any activities that are harmful. (e.g. violent games, music with lots of cursing, horror films, hanging out with people who only gossip and moan and destroy others, etc. etc.)

may God bless u
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« Reply #26 on: October 20, 2011, 08:15:13 PM »

... if God truly knows what we need then why does he make us ask for it?

I think it's a question of awareness: are you truly aware of what you need? Perhaps God understands that better than you do.

 "... we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected) he often feels that it would not be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come along - illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation - he is disappointed. These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us."


C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
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« Reply #27 on: October 20, 2011, 09:12:31 PM »


Perhaps it is not that he "makes" us ask, but, He waits for us to realize we need it.

For example, if you know that every day you will be getting fed at 9 a.m. 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. you never worry about food.  You also never appreciate it.  You never go hungry.
However, the person in a famine situation will gladly eat and praise the taste of the scraps that you would never think of eating.

Doesn't that first bite of non-lenten food at Pascha taste so much better than it does during the non-Lenten period?  It does, because we have missed it, we have craved it, and we now appreciate it.

Besides, "asking" for something humbles us.  It means we cannot do it alone.  It is difficult to ask for help, and yet it acknowledges God's superiority and love for us, because we wouldn't ask if we didn't think He would give it to us.
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« Reply #28 on: October 20, 2011, 09:55:49 PM »

The big.. "Oh wow it's Orthodoxy, I love it -- it's just so amazing" is totally wearing off on me too.  I've only been Orthodox for 6 months...

Why does your profile say that you're 25 when only a month or so ago it said you were 16? Or am I thinking of someone else?
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« Reply #29 on: October 20, 2011, 10:16:33 PM »

sorry that it is one thing after another. Lord have mercy!

I'm a big fan, from experience, of what does not kill you makes you stronger.

Btw, have you ever read this?
http://books.google.com/books?id=tbf_PAAACAAJ&dq=the+trial+of+job+reardon&hl=en

but is sounds like you have other, physical issues, that have to be dealt with. Do so.

As for the child analogy, although you often want to prevent your children from making their mistakes, or answer them before you ask, many times and many ways you can't: they have to live their own life.  Trust me on that.
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« Reply #30 on: October 20, 2011, 11:50:07 PM »

The big.. "Oh wow it's Orthodoxy, I love it -- it's just so amazing" is totally wearing off on me too.  I've only been Orthodox for 6 months...

Why does your profile say that you're 25 when only a month or so ago it said you were 16? Or am I thinking of someone else?

You're thinking of someone else..
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« Reply #31 on: October 21, 2011, 04:55:25 AM »

The big.. "Oh wow it's Orthodoxy, I love it -- it's just so amazing" is totally wearing off on me too.  I've only been Orthodox for 6 months...

Why does your profile say that you're 25 when only a month or so ago it said you were 16? Or am I thinking of someone else?

He just looks 16, maybe.
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« Reply #32 on: October 21, 2011, 05:03:04 AM »

I'm a big fan, from experience, of what does not kill you makes you stronger.
Agreed!
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« Reply #33 on: October 21, 2011, 10:17:46 AM »

There are a number of things which could explain what you are going through, but I just wanted to touch a bit upon one aspect of the subject of indifference.  It may not at all be the case with you, but a spirit of indifference can easily come through general laxity and self-indulgence.  Here we can recall the following words of our Lord from the Parable of the Sower:

“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Matt 13:19-23)."

When we are first exposed to Orthodoxy and our eyes are opened to the entire ascetical worldview that is expressed in the Scriptures, the Fathers, the lives of the saints, and the services of the Church, our conscience becomes pricked, our spirit is moved by the exalted way of life that we hear about, the difference between the divinized life to which Orthodoxy calls us to and our own carnality appears before us, we feel some exhilaration over the possibility of living a life free of the passions and guided by the Spirit of God, and Orthodoxy appears to us as a vast and expansive universe whose depths can be eternally explored and never exhausted.   When we are baptized/chrismated, the grace of the Holy Spirit may be experienced to a significant degree, and we may experience a great initial fervor to both receive, and properly prepare to receive, the grace-filled mysteries.  While we may feel some initial closeness with God, some special grace, God does allow us to soon feel the absence of this grace so that we might learn to struggle, to be humble, and to further purify our hearts so that we might be made worthy to partake of even an even greater glory.  God allows us to experience temptations just as He allowed Adam and Eve to experience temptation, so that we might be more perfectly united with Him through the free exercise of our own will.  But in these times of temptation we do still have free will and may choose to consent to temptations or indulge our passions rather than to courageously struggle against them out of our love for God and our desire to do His will.  If we persist in sins, the grace we receive in baptism gets entirely covered over and buried, and our conscience becomes deaf to the words of the Scriptures, the writings of the Fathers, etc.  We begin to get discouraged as we realize that 1) we have very little desire or will to struggle to purify our hearts and overcome the passions, and 2) that being “Orthodox” and receiving the Mysteries is really meaningless (and is actually harmful) if we are not willing to sincerely struggle to follow Christ and present ourselves as blameless before him.  If our will is not active in the direction of struggling against the passions, fulfilling the commandments, and cultivating the virtues with God’s help, then all the externals of the Faith (including theology, spiritual writings, and church) will seem utterly meaningless and unimportant.  If we do not sincerely wish to save our souls, the salvation and healing offered to us by God becomes quite meaningless and may seem even foolish. 

What can be done then?  Perhaps the best thing would probably be to take a retreat, to spend a week or more at a very good Orthodox monastery, go to confession there and speak with the spiritual father, fast as much as you can (within reason), and commit to a manageable rule of morning and evening prayer.  Fasting (so as to experience great hunger and not simply to swap fasting foods for non-fasting foods) is a particularly important way of cultivating zeal and humbling ourselves, reminding us of our weakness and vulnerability before God as well as the fragility of life.  Fasting also helps intensify our prayer, experience some freedom from the passions, and come to some clarify of thought and perception.  Combining this with almsgiving, the helping of others, and spiritual reading is also critical to arouse us from this indifference.  On spiritual reading, I usually find the careful reading and pondering of “Way of the Ascetics” by Tito Colliander to be of help in arousing the will.  Perhaps something else will be more helpful to you.

Again, I wished here to touch on one aspect of the subject of indifference, but I realize these thoughts may or may not at all connect with what you are experiencing.  If this is not helpful, please forgive me. 

Below is the first chapter of “Way of the Ascetics”.  This and the rest of the book (best read one chapter a day or week), can be read here:
 
http://thewayoftheascetics.blogspot.com/2007/11/chapter-one-on-resolute-and-sustained.html

Chapter One: ON A RESOLUTE AND SUSTAINED PURPOSE

IF you wish to save your soul and win eternal life, arise from your lethargy, make the sign of the Cross and say:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Faith comes not through pondering but through action. Not words and speculation but experience teaches us what God is. To let in fresh air we have to open a window; to get tanned we must go out into the sunshine. Achieving faith is no different; we never reach a goal by just sitting in comfort and waiting, say the holy Fathers. Let the Prodigal Son be our example. He arose and came (Luke 15:20).

However weighed down and entangled in earthly fetters you may be, it can never be too late. Not without reason is it written that Abraham was seventy-five when he set forth, and the labourer who comes in the eleventh hour gets the same wages as the one who comes in the first.

Nor can it be too early. A forest fire cannot be put out too soon; would you see your soul ravaged and charred?

In baptism you received the command to wage the invisible warfare against the enemies of your soul; take it up now. Long enough have you dallied; sunk in indifference and laziness you have let much valuable time go to waste. Therefore you must begin again from the beginning: for you have let the purity you received in baptism be sullied in dire fashion.

Arise, then; but do so at once, without delay. Do not defer your purpose till "tonight" or "tomorrow" or "later, when I have finished what I have to do just now." The interval may be fatal.

No, this moment, the instant you make your resolution, you will show by your action that you have taken leave of your old self and have now begun a new life, with a new destination and a new way of living. Arise, therefore, without fear and say: Lord, let me begin now. Help me! For what you need above all is God's help. . Hold fast to your purpose and do not look back. We have been given a warning example in Lot's wife, who was turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back (Genesis 19:26). You have cast off your old humanity; let the rags lie. Like Abraham, you have heard the voice of the Lord: Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, into a land that I will show thee (Genesis 12:1). Towards that land hereafter you must direct all your attention.


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« Reply #34 on: October 21, 2011, 02:10:59 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

It never gets easy, it gets harder.  Read Paul.  It only gets more difficult, but this causes us to dive deeper and deeper into the Spirit.  Lately I have not been as zealous myself about certain aspects of our Church life which I used to be, but then again, I have been busy with other Church opportunities and functions.  So maybe you need some variety? Get in contact with a different Ministry there, maybe the Choir or the Sunday School/Youth program, or join a Saints' Association or simply help the custodian by cleaning up around the Church.  These things keep it fresh.  

All you can do is continue to turn to God in prayer, and above all else, DON'T BE HARD ON YOURSELF! This will only make you defensive an hostile, even to yourself.

There are three simple steps to healing:

1) Acknowledge the Truth

2) Practice Forgiveness

3) Give Love, including to yourself

If you acknowledge the Truth, you are no longer in denial, and you are at the core of the problem.  Once you know the truth, you can find forgiveness.  The Truth is whatever combination of situations has been bothering you, the forgiveness is to accept the truth and make appropriate ammends.  This takes Love, so love yourself, love everyone, love God.  Practice makes perfect.  We practice all our bad habits and self-defeating inner dialogue, we therefore need to practice all the more the opposite solution.

stay blessed,
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« Reply #35 on: October 24, 2011, 01:12:45 PM »


Anyway, I don't want to seem melodramatic, but I feel that if God truly knows what we need then why does he make us ask for it? If a parent sees a need in their children they respond to it right away.  A responsible and caring parent doesn't sit back and wait for a plea for help. I don't know; the whole affair seems really co-dependent to me.  God forgive me for having thoughts like these. 


Listening to this Sunday's Gospel reading: Luke 7:11-17, about the Widow of Nain who had lost her only son, brought to mind your statement concerning God's help in our lives.

The widow was weeping and heartbroken. Neither she, nor anyone else, asked Christ to help her.  He simply saw her grief and took pity on her, raising her son from death and "delivering" him to her alive.

Wow!  Just....wow!

I heard it and then went home and reread it...and sure enough....nobody "asked" for help....it was freely given....which made me think.

God performs miracles because He feels sorry for people. The three occasions recorded in the Gospels when Jesus raises someone from the dead certainly show this. Jesus raises the young man at Nain from the dead because of His pity for the widow. He raised Jairus' daughter from the dead because He had compassion on her parents. He raised Lazarus from the dead because He was a very dear friend, and because He felt compassion for his two sisters, Martha and Mary.

So, the statement above where you state that God sits idly by, like a neglectful parent, and waits for his children to beg Him for help....is a misnomer, as demonstrated in the Gospel.

We often don't ask, but, we receive. 

Thank You, God!!!


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« Reply #36 on: October 24, 2011, 02:47:39 PM »

I don't have answers, but, FWIW, I will pray for you.
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« Reply #37 on: November 20, 2011, 01:34:56 PM »

I've never done this before, but today within fifteen minutes of being in church I walked out and went back home.  I still enjoy reading the Bible and even some Orthodox material.  But the Liturgy is just... boring.  I pray that this doesn't offend or scandalize anyone; I'm really not trying to.  It's just that the whole thing reminds me of some kind of mystical square-dance, where everyone is into being told when to bow, when to make the sign of the cross, when to kiss this and when to kiss that.  I've been an Eastern Orthodox Christian for seven years now and I used to be so on fire for this stuff but now it's just such a chore.  At first, I was sort of taken aback at my wanting to walk out of the Liturgy but half-way home I thought, "Eh, it's just so monotonous repetitive and uninteresting anymore."...

I do have feelings of guilt and remorse, but another side of me couldn't care less.  I really hope this will pass sometime soon because I realize that this state of apathy (acedie?) is wearing me smooth.

I highly doubt that I'm the only one who's gone through this- for those of you who've experienced this, or something similar, how'd you deal with it?  How long was it before it passed?  
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« Reply #38 on: November 20, 2011, 02:11:56 PM »

Not everything in life is going to be a barrel of monkeys.

Have you considered going to Confession?
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« Reply #39 on: November 20, 2011, 02:20:36 PM »

I've never done this before, but today within fifteen minutes of being in church I walked out and went back home.  I still enjoy reading the Bible and even some Orthodox material.  But the Liturgy is just... boring.  I pray that this doesn't offend or scandalize anyone; I'm really not trying to.  It's just that the whole thing reminds me of some kind of mystical square-dance, where everyone is into being told when to bow, when to make the sign of the cross, when to kiss this and when to kiss that.  I've been an Eastern Orthodox Christian for seven years now and I used to be so on fire for this stuff but now it's just such a chore.  At first, I was sort of taken aback at my wanting to walk out of the Liturgy but half-way home I thought, "Eh, it's just so monotonous repetitive and uninteresting anymore."...

I do have feelings of guilt and remorse, but another side of me couldn't care less.  I really hope this will pass sometime soon because I realize that this state of apathy (acedie?) is wearing me smooth.

I highly doubt that I'm the only one who's gone through this- for those of you who've experienced this, or something similar, how'd you deal with it?  How long was it before it passed? 

Every Orthodox Christian has these struggles from time to time, if not at the Divine Liturgy, then at the time of prayer at home.  Sometimes, when we begin our prayer rule the Evil One, or simply our lazy flesh, says to us, “Ah, what’s the point.  Give yourself a break.  You pray every day and what is the use.  Go to bed instead and get some rest.”  Or, at the time of our evening prayers we hear the suggestion that maybe we should put off the prayers until later, until after we have watched some TV, or had some desert, or finished our chores, and then once everything is done we feel exhausted and do not have the strength for prayers.  Sometimes we have great zeal for prayer and we want to extend our prayer rule, and at other times we do not even want to say “Our Father”.  The thoughts that discourage us from prayer come from the allurements of the flesh, the world, and the Evil One.  The only thing to do is to resist them, reminding ourselves that “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent enter it by force.”  Forcing our will to do what is pleasing to God, and opposing the contrary urgings of our own will for the sake of God, is the only way of salvation.  It is a constant battle, but every saint has testified as to the eternal reward that awaits those who oppose their own will and sacrifice themselves to do what is pleasing to God.  If we give into the suggestions of the world, the flesh, and the Evil One, thinking that we will listen to them as long as they are calling us away from God, and we will serve God later when they cease to bother us, then we will never turn to God in this life and will have no chance to know Him eternally, but will rather be forever condemned.  The saints did not only struggle with acidie, but also with blasphemous thoughts against God, yet they were glorified for courageously rejecting these sinful thoughts and applying themselves to dong God’s will.  We will not be condemned for lax thoughts, or for being tempted to abandon God, or to skip the Divine Liturgy or our regular prayers; but if we habitually give into these thoughts, we will be taken captive by the Enemy and will be forever estranged from God.
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« Reply #40 on: November 20, 2011, 02:46:00 PM »

i only once walked out of a church after going in for a service. it was a 'non denominational' church in a town i had just moved to. i knew there was this service at 10.30 close to where i lived and another at 11.15 in another church further away.

i walked in and everyone had a plastic fixed smile, yet whenever there was a chance, people were murmuring among themselves and not paying attention. they started singing and looked around to see who had died (it sounded like a funeral). seeing there was no coffin, i realised the death that was happening was in people's hearts and i prayed for forgiveness to God and then ran out!
i was just in time for the 11.15 service at the other church.
as i walked in 5 or 10 minutes late, i saw the smiling face of the priest (another protestant church) at the front, and he seemed to be glad someone came rather than annoyed someone was late. i stayed there nearly a year and a half; till my next house move!

this was a long time ago when i was protestant, but orthodox churches are also not immune to people 'going through the motions' without engaging their real thoughts or feelings.
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l0st
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« Reply #41 on: November 20, 2011, 03:28:36 PM »

http://www.orthodox-christianity.com/2011/05/overcoming-depression/

http://www.orthodox-christianity.com/2011/06/after-the-chrism-dries/

?
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mabsoota
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« Reply #42 on: November 20, 2011, 03:48:46 PM »

that second post is very good.
we must strive to be humble and to renounce the seeking of comfort to come closer to God.
the devil's sin was pride, so we must run from this at all times.

we should also remember that being a Christian can be hard work. we need to keep praying and (even harder, maybe!) keep loving the people around us.
elijah (1 kings 19) became depressed and wanted to run away, but God dealt gently with him and then sent him on to continue his work.
we all have work to do for God; loving our neighbour, standing up for colleagues who are discriminated against, praying and fasting etc.
may God give us the strength to keep going and know His beautiful love and His peace which is beyond understanding.
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yeshuaisiam
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« Reply #43 on: November 22, 2011, 01:27:22 AM »

I highly doubt that I'm the only one who's gone through this- for those of you who've experienced this, or something similar, how'd you deal with it?  How long was it before it passed?  

I've gone through this.   I was raised EO and lived at St. Vladimir's seminary twice.  Once when I was a kid and once when I was older as a student for a year.   

Let me tell you exactly what happened to me.   I like you saw the incense, the bowing, the crossing, the prayer ropes... the "formalities".   It led me away from Eastern Orthodoxy and into a spiritual quagmire of sorts.  I didn't know what to do, where to go, or what to say.  I considered several times returning to the church just because I felt lost.   Protestants didn't do it for me, and the RC church... well... No way.

So it led me into a deep spiritual journey into the discovery of the practices of the early Christians.   It was interesting the information that I came across about these "Hebrews" writing in Greek.   I delved into the languages and found that many Messianic Jews had the understanding of the traditions of the Early Christians, even more so than the EO that I've known.  So I started to console with many Messianic Jews who truly knew the bible better than anybody I have ever known.  However, their lifestyles were not reflective of the Early Christians.

That led me into a journey of the anabaptists, that some may consider to be protestants, however they do not consider themselves protestants nor Catholics.   I was and am still interested in this bunch because their daily lives (for a large part) revolve around what Christianity was in the early days.   I found it ironic in EO that the congregation would talk about movies such as "The Matrix" and games like "World of Warcraft" and never once consider the demonic implications in those films or games.  The EO church didn't really "warn" specifically of these worldly things often.  The Anabaptists are very reluctant to EVER accept these technologies because they also understand the influence of them. (The eye is the lamp, etc.)  So the Anabaptists do not allow their congregations to have things like televisions.   The women really wore head coverings, the men did not swear oaths, and they actually followed what Yeshua/Jesus said for us to do and not to do in the bible.   Their kids were very good, their divorce rate was niltch, their charity was abundant, and some even practiced communal living.   Do we know them by their fruits?

In my opinion Eastern Orthodoxy is overloaded with fluff and lost the principals of what they were.  (Remember you asked and I am not trying to sway you).   They have allowed "evolution" of things that didn't need to be involved.  Look above and you'll see some posts "skip candles etc.".   Coming on this forum has also been an eye opener as any challenge to Orthodoxy that I've had backed in scripture, was countered with hostility in a very un-Christian like manner.   This was highly reflective of the nature of those in the body of the EO church. The Anabaptists that I have challenged answered in love and were happy to tell me when "they didn't know the answer".

So the question you have to ask yourself now is "what do you do"?   Do you return to the EO church you walked out of and work things out?  Do you run the course of Atheism(I hope not)?  Do you find yourself in a spot like I am?   I think only God can guide you.

I ask myself these things constantly.  Can I return to the church that I think challenges the scripture?  Can I go back and go through the formalities again?  Can I convince myself to take up a prayer rope again?  I'll state honestly I don't think that I can.    I just don't have that "holier than thou" piece within myself anymore which I had in the church.  I see things as much more simple and easier to understand not so complicated in the barrage of "facts" from the "one true church that "evolved" like zillions of times".

The funny thing is though that I would not call Eastern Orthodoxy wrong.  I just think its gone way overboard from what it was originally. But I do love it. I think that its incredibly spiritually rich.  I do not agree with everything in it at all, and neither has billions upon billions of people.  You may find yourself going back to it, and for that I'd be happy to give you a ride to church.

So you ask how long does it take to pass?  It has not yet for me.

Does that mean that God will send my precious curly haired 3 year old chubby daughter to hell because she wouldn't bow, cross, venerate, confess to a priest, and believe that only in ordination can the magic mojo of the sacraments be held - I almost completely doubt it.

Whatever happens in your spiritual journey remember this.  Eastern Orthodoxy has its own issues.  OO vs. EO.  Beards vs. No beards.  Calendar vs. Calendar.  G Schism and the battle w Rome.  Ecumenism vs. true Orthodox.   Iconoclasts vs. not so iconoclasts (lol).   It's history is littered with so much stuff and ployed off to be "pure".  Even today research "Esphigmenou monastery" on Mt. Athos, and you'll see one of the bishops who ordered attacks on monks.   It's just overloaded with stuff like that too.   So don't let anybody convince you that you are evil, wicked, bad, or going to hell for what you are feeling.   The church has plenty of "issues" too.

Often I have found that the tiny little EO churches out there are so much more pleasant and dedicated than the big wealthy jurisdictions.  You may want to focus on those.   See where it leads you.  It's the ones where money doesn't matter because there isn't any - try those out.  Seems that the focus on God was much stronger in those.

Anyway, I hope & pray God leads you where he wants you.   If it's back to Eastern Orthodoxy, that's wonderful.  If not.... God be with you.

This was MY very condensed version of testimony of what happened because YOU ASKED.  I have to put that there or else I get skinned alive.  (*note everybody he asked quoted above*)
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Seraphim98
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« Reply #44 on: December 13, 2011, 04:28:36 AM »

It is interesting, the things that are boring…repetition, bowing…the slow "square-dance", etc. all that I find comforting and nourishing. It is a dance. It is courtly and repetitive, but that is part of its beauty. It takes me out of myself and stands me in the river the generations of the faithful in Christ who have preceded me. I get join their prayers, reverence Christ with them, bless Christ with them, honor the saints with them.  Everything there unites me to them and through them back to Christ…and Christ through them forward to me.

Now don't get me wrong…there are times my mind wanders, or I nearly doze off on my feet…but I am reminded of the old elder, and Saint, I believe who said that when a brother next to him in the services was overcome with sleep, he just laid his  head down across his knees and let him rest.  Sometimes we get to be the knees. Sometimes we are the one overcome with weariness.

Sometimes we are like a lone candle in the sandbox whose flame has flickered out…and we grow cold and hard, but as other candles are set near us, their flames still alight, the substance still "weeping" and being transformed into illumination, their collective warmth softens us so that even if we no longer quite burn, we can bow again…and indeed as often as not, some dear soul draws close and touches us so that our flame rekindles.  So even if we cannot find the light shining in us, we can still keep our place in the sandbox until the Lord has mercy, and through the prayers of our neighbors  (seen and unseen) we may grow warm again, and perhaps even shine again. It is hard on us to find ourselves in need and effectively helpless to help ourselves. Thank God He has prepared knees to support our weary heads, and the prayers of the faithful that are everywhere lifted up…for us though we are unaware of them. 

Sometimes when I feel depressed and abandoned, and there are times I do I often find myself looking at my icons…feeling a little guilty that my patron saint and his holy fellows have to put up with me. Then I remember what I was taught very early on about Saints and their icons….we don't choose them, they choose us.  And then the wonder overwhelms me, and my eyes fill with tears to consider St. Seraphim, St. Nectarios, St. John Chrysostom, St. John of San Francisco, St. Herman, and many others, especially the Blessed Theotokos chose to enter my life, to be helpers for me…and I feel like the watcher in the Dream of the Rood when the cross began to bleed…"And I so wounded and stained".  Then I think, "Lord have mercy" that you have to send such heavy hitters to me…I must be in great need of help….but there they are, all present in the life of this sinner, earnestly desiring my salvation right along with theirs.  Then I recall what they suffered, what they endured for Christ…and my suffering, while it is quite my own, and while it is not necessarily relieved…I do realize, just like theirs, mine too is endurable in Christ…and however bad it gets, for however long, it is not wasted…it is not dumb suffering, but because of Christ always bears in it the seed of redemption and transformation since He knit my suffering little or great, to His own.

All the formalities of our worship speak to me of heavenly things, especially the icons, and more especially those of the iconostasis. They perpetually remind me I am not as I ought to be. If I were then my eyes would see past the icons to the spiritual place where their prototypes dwell, my heart would pierce any reading or utterance of Scripture to hear the voice that spoke to the Apostles directly, the angels on the doors and walls would be as visible to me…perhaps moreso than the doors and walls…but they are not…so I know the fault is yet in me, and I, though in therapy, am not yet healed…and so I persist, knowing that behind/beyond the dance, the repetitions, the icons, and candles, and incense and bells is reality which my heart longs for, but my eyes are too weak to see unaided by all the rest, yet by them I am aided in participating in and trough them.

In truth we love the mountaintops.  They are beautiful against the sky…but as beautiful as they are, they are places for visitation, not habitation.  Life is in the valley. The orchards and vineyards are not planted where the soil is rocky and water leaps from ledge to ledge strewing rainbows…but down below where the water is tea colored and moves more slowly and more quietly.  There the water is "over" itself and quietly saturates the land. Life is here, not on the mountain top, but in the  lowest place. And where does that river flow from the valley…if not to the great and boundless sea, which has taken the lowest place of all.

Well that was all very solomn…here, maybe this will lighten your mood a bit: http://www.youtube.com/user/UncleRob?feature=guide#p/a/u/0/7rTZ7NFQMJ4



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Isadore
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« Reply #45 on: December 13, 2011, 06:22:24 AM »

I have depression too, and it has played a part in my "interest", in both intense interest and intense disinterest.

You may simply be coming into a different kind of faith. I don't know if this is an appropriate comparison, but I can compare it to teenage puppy love, compared to adult marital settling down love. Maybe a better one, a relationship with parents that goes through trials and comes through.

No matter how old you get, aging always means changes, and changing can involve your relationship with God. Right now I have a friend who is exploring why God doesn't always answer prayers, and at this point I've been through that and it's a non-issue for me.

Depression can play a big part in this because of how you perceive things around you. When I'm not depressed, going for a walk can be the most pleasant and wonderful thing ever. When I am depressed it is boring, seen this already, barely there, not paying attention. If a relationship with God seems co-dependent, you are just not receiving the good parts, and that could be no fault of your own.
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"Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved."
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