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Andrew Crook
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« on: August 20, 2012, 03:04:03 PM »

So I haven't posted in awhile, but I've been thinking.  Is it possible that one can truly convert too quickly?  I haven't exactly prayed very much, which I suppose is part of the downfall of my own "spiritual life".  My priest told me that to get beyond doubt, you just have to pray more.  Needless to say I wasn't following his direction, but thinking back on it maybe I should have.  Everything I know about Orthodoxy, I learned mostly over the internet.  So I only set down for two or three sessions with my original priest before deciding that I wanted to do this over a year ago. 

My Mom is always telling me about how I "flip flop".  Before I came to Orthodoxy, I couldn't make up my mind what religion I wanted to be or if I followed one at all.  I'm not sure what made me think that Orthodoxy would some how stop this tendency with me.  I've been so busy "searching for the Truth", that even when encountering the Holy Mysteries I failed to realize the fullness of Truth that the Orthodox Church brought.  I even managed to destroy my chrismation certificate, thinking that maybe I would just be an atheist instead.  The Greek church that I was going to is a lovely church, and I still continue to adore the Divine Liturgy, the chanting, and the icons.  There is however, no one my age that goes there and so a lack of community is what I was sensing.  About the only "Orthodox" community I got, was from being here on the internet -- whether it was on Facebook or here on this forum. 

I just don't know what to do with myself, it's sort of funny in a way -- and yet tragic almost.  My entire family is Christian so needless to say, there's always that bit of wanting to "conform" with everyone else.  However, even if not everyone in my family was Christian -- it's the simple fact that I was raised in Christianity, that causes it to give me comfort as opposed to other religions.  If the atheists are right and we just cease to exist, then none of it matters -- but I suppose that's just too depressing for me to accept. 

So I guess what I'm looking for is advice, or suggestions?  I don't know if any of you have ever gone through such dilemmas or know someone who has, what helped the most? 

Sincerely,
Andrew
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2012, 03:08:43 PM »

Hard to give advice without bit more information: How old are you? Do you live at home? If so, when do you plan to move out?
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Andrew Crook
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2012, 03:16:57 PM »

I am 26, and yes I do live at home.  I plan on moving out soon enough, and starting a career as a truck driver.  It's not the most ideal of careers, but at least it will allow me to be independent and I'll be making more money than I currently do at the grocery store which I work for.
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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2012, 03:38:07 PM »

Don't have any advice, really, just an observation. I have seen these types of situations on this forum and I'm always struck by the fact that the people admit they don't pray or fast, or help other people, or go to church or do any of the stuff that we know we should be doing. (not saying you in particular, you understand, but come to think of it, you did say you weren't praying much). But then expect instant (or pretty quick at any rate) enlightenment, peace of mind and heart and/or spiritual maturity. In my experience at least, it just don't work that way.
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2012, 04:43:41 PM »

I think it depends on the person.  When you are ready to convert and jump in with both feet, then you are ready. 
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2012, 04:46:40 PM »

Where would you go if you left the Church? You've found the Truth and if you leave now it's like a slap in the face to Christ. You should talk to your priest about all of what is going on. He should help you with a prayer rule and counsel you if you're feeling a "down" period. There's going to be spiritual highs and lows. The main objective is to continue your struggle to become closer to Christ.

Since you are feeling a lack of closeness in the community and feel isolated at home because of your Orthodoxy, maybe look into other churches in the area if you continue to feel this way.  
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« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2012, 12:30:16 AM »

Where would you go if you left the Church? You've found the Truth and if you leave now it's like a slap in the face to Christ. You should talk to your priest about all of what is going on. He should help you with a prayer rule and counsel you if you're feeling a "down" period. There's going to be spiritual highs and lows. The main objective is to continue your struggle to become closer to Christ.

Since you are feeling a lack of closeness in the community and feel isolated at home because of your Orthodoxy, maybe look into other churches in the area if you continue to feel this way.  

The thing is, how do you know when you've officially "left the Church"?  I destroyed my chrismation certificate, even though I wasn't certain if I was completely done with Christianity or not.  I have talked to him before, he just said to pray more.  He gave me ideas to start out with a morning and evening prayer, before an icon -- even if it's just to say a few words, it doesn't have to be out of a book.  He gave me the idea to buy a komboskini, or if I couldn't the Church would lend me one and start using the Jesus prayer on one of those 33 knot ropes given the fact that I told him I was attracted to the idea of Eastern chants before. 

There have been a few weeks where it's like, "I just can't believe any of this stuff."  Then there are other weeks, where my entire being cries out for spirituality.  I hadn't even been to church since the first sunday of June, and before that it was around Feb. 29 for the first Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts during Lent.  I don't know what's kept me from going, perhaps it's all of these things which go through my mind that I'm discussing here.  But I guess either way, the fact that I've been avoiding Church means it's time for the sacrament of reconciliation.

Katherineofdixie had a good insight.  If you don't pray, and you don't fast, and you don't go to church -- what do you expect will happen to you? Of course you will drift away from Orthodoxy, because you're not putting anything into it.  I agree with that, and it makes sense.  Even Protestants will tell me about how it's important to read the Bible daily, and to have fellowship with other believers.  It does help to keep you going in the faith. 
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« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2012, 12:43:28 AM »

Truck driving is pretty good money. Hope it works out for you.

And yes, I think it is possible to rush conversion.
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« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2012, 10:41:04 AM »

Where would you go if you left the Church? You've found the Truth and if you leave now it's like a slap in the face to Christ. You should talk to your priest about all of what is going on. He should help you with a prayer rule and counsel you if you're feeling a "down" period. There's going to be spiritual highs and lows. The main objective is to continue your struggle to become closer to Christ.

Since you are feeling a lack of closeness in the community and feel isolated at home because of your Orthodoxy, maybe look into other churches in the area if you continue to feel this way.  

The thing is, how do you know when you've officially "left the Church"?  I destroyed my chrismation certificate, even though I wasn't certain if I was completely done with Christianity or not.  I have talked to him before, he just said to pray more.  He gave me ideas to start out with a morning and evening prayer, before an icon -- even if it's just to say a few words, it doesn't have to be out of a book.  He gave me the idea to buy a komboskini, or if I couldn't the Church would lend me one and start using the Jesus prayer on one of those 33 knot ropes given the fact that I told him I was attracted to the idea of Eastern chants before.  

There have been a few weeks where it's like, "I just can't believe any of this stuff."  Then there are other weeks, where my entire being cries out for spirituality.  I hadn't even been to church since the first sunday of June, and before that it was around Feb. 29 for the first Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts during Lent.  I don't know what's kept me from going, perhaps it's all of these things which go through my mind that I'm discussing here.  But I guess either way, the fact that I've been avoiding Church means it's time for the sacrament of reconciliation.

Katherineofdixie had a good insight.  If you don't pray, and you don't fast, and you don't go to church -- what do you expect will happen to you? Of course you will drift away from Orthodoxy, because you're not putting anything into it.  I agree with that, and it makes sense.  Even Protestants will tell me about how it's important to read the Bible daily, and to have fellowship with other believers.  It does help to keep you going in the faith.  

There have been, and continue to be, many times in my life where I feel like I'm just going through the motions. For me, it is just that - the "routine" of prayer, worship, fasting, charity etc. that keeps me going though the dry spells. The good thing is, the dry spells never last.





Look, we know this stuff works - it's been working for centuries. I'm more of a practical person anyway. I read the lives of the saints and I yearn to be better than I am. I'm old enough and have lived long enough to realize that "getting better" just doesn't happen (at least to me anyway) magically and miraculously one morning. But if you give me a plan, I can work the plan. Orthodoxy gives me that plan - a plan that has worked for millions of people over centuries.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 10:45:38 AM by katherineofdixie » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2012, 11:32:14 AM »

Where would you go if you left the Church? You've found the Truth and if you leave now it's like a slap in the face to Christ. You should talk to your priest about all of what is going on. He should help you with a prayer rule and counsel you if you're feeling a "down" period. There's going to be spiritual highs and lows. The main objective is to continue your struggle to become closer to Christ.

Since you are feeling a lack of closeness in the community and feel isolated at home because of your Orthodoxy, maybe look into other churches in the area if you continue to feel this way.  

The thing is, how do you know when you've officially "left the Church"?  I destroyed my chrismation certificate, even though I wasn't certain if I was completely done with Christianity or not.  I have talked to him before, he just said to pray more.  He gave me ideas to start out with a morning and evening prayer, before an icon -- even if it's just to say a few words, it doesn't have to be out of a book.  He gave me the idea to buy a komboskini, or if I couldn't the Church would lend me one and start using the Jesus prayer on one of those 33 knot ropes given the fact that I told him I was attracted to the idea of Eastern chants before.  

There have been a few weeks where it's like, "I just can't believe any of this stuff."  Then there are other weeks, where my entire being cries out for spirituality.  I hadn't even been to church since the first sunday of June, and before that it was around Feb. 29 for the first Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts during Lent.  I don't know what's kept me from going, perhaps it's all of these things which go through my mind that I'm discussing here.  But I guess either way, the fact that I've been avoiding Church means it's time for the sacrament of reconciliation.

Katherineofdixie had a good insight.  If you don't pray, and you don't fast, and you don't go to church -- what do you expect will happen to you? Of course you will drift away from Orthodoxy, because you're not putting anything into it.  I agree with that, and it makes sense.  Even Protestants will tell me about how it's important to read the Bible daily, and to have fellowship with other believers.  It does help to keep you going in the faith.  

There have been, and continue to be, many times in my life where I feel like I'm just going through the motions. For me, it is just that - the "routine" of prayer, worship, fasting, charity etc. that keeps me going though the dry spells. The good thing is, the dry spells never last.



Look, we know this stuff works - it's been working for centuries. I'm more of a practical person anyway. I read the lives of the saints and I yearn to be better than I am. I'm old enough and have lived long enough to realize that "getting better" just doesn't happen (at least to me anyway) magically and miraculously one morning. But if you give me a plan, I can work the plan. Orthodoxy gives me that plan - a plan that has worked for millions of people over centuries.

I agree. This does happen to all of us.  But, I would also add that what your mother told you about yourself is very telling.   She has noticed in you a propensity to avoid commitment and decisions.  Well, now you've made a decision to become Orthodox.  It is a life-long struggle.  Since you obvious struggle with commitment then this is the perfect area for the devil to get at you and cause you to lose heart or faith.  NOW is the time to dig in and keep your daily rule - no matter how simple or short.  Do it!  Just do it.   Be a man of your word.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 11:32:37 AM by PrincessMommy » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2012, 02:04:45 PM »

Yes, it is definitely possible to convert too quickly.  As is often the case, we desire to belong to something whether a group of friends, a religion, an institution, and we can convince ourselves that our values and beliefs are and have always been directly aligned with those of that group or institution.  Sooner or later, when you come to odds with that group or institution, doubt settles in and you can easily find yourself searching for newer, "better" soil to plant your roots.  This is a common phenomenon among contemporary twenty-something adults like yourself (and me...and our generation).  Postmodern society doesn't encourage commitment...at all.
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« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2012, 02:22:21 PM »

Yes one can convert too quickly. That has it's inevitable disappointments and dangers. But having converted…unless there is something better/truer to go to then one has to work at and with what one has.

Spiritual discipline is hard. We are vigorously opposed at every desire to pray, read scripture, etc.  Three minutes before the icons and our minds can't stay still long enough to focus on more than a phrase or two here and there. We check our watch…when will this be over? Why is it so hard, so tedious, so anything other than "enlightening" "relaxing" "centering," etc. Yet, we can sit down to a good movie or favorite TV series…and hours can  pass before we are even aware.  Why? One is opposed…the other is "encouraged". The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by violence.

That said, being violently engaged with the Kingdom against our well prodded appetites and interests is just hard.  That is why it is good not to live alone.  When the time comes to find your own place, it may help if you can find a good devout friend to share a place with. Make it a point between you to do certain spiritual activities together…like morning or evening prayers. Touching base by phone for prayer at set times if you are on the road, going to church together, maybe even go so far as to undertake some charity work together.  And if you can find a third…so much the better…cheaper rent and "a threefold cord is not quickly broken". The point is not to be a functional isolate in your spiritual life, if at all possible.  

Whether you should actually try this or not depends on a number of factors…like your personality, the availability of suitable housemates, and the counsel of your priest who probably has some insights into your spiritual needs.

Bottom line, what I am suggesting is developing and investing in a saving friendship of one or more others so that you can support each other and encourage each other when one is feeling weak or challenged. Internet friendships maybe a stopgap…but live friends are better.

And that said, the struggle to be faithful in prayer and service is not easy for anyone that I know. Everyone has things that try to draw them away and distract them. Some struggle alone, some have wives, friends, or other family to help and to lean on. So you are not alone in your struggle.  The real problem is not so much falling down in the struggle but declining to get back up again. That is the Orthodox life. We fall down; we get up. We fall down; we get up. Life imitates prostrations. The important thing is always getting back up….like being in deep water…always be sure to surface at least one more time than you submerge. It is hard…but you will grow stronger with the experience, and God willing He may send you some helpful company.
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« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2012, 12:36:45 AM »

So I haven't posted in awhile, but I've been thinking.  Is it possible that one can truly convert too quickly?  I haven't exactly prayed very much, which I suppose is part of the downfall of my own "spiritual life".  My priest told me that to get beyond doubt, you just have to pray more.

What is "beyond doubt"? Who believes beyond doubt?

Quote
There is however, no one my age that goes there and so a lack of community is what I was sensing.  About the only "Orthodox" community I got, was from being here on the internet -- whether it was on Facebook or here on this forum.

I'm in the same situation. It's no fun. Are there other Orthodox churches with young people you could get to know? Are you good at making friends with older people?

From my own experience, I would encourage you to read the Bible, especially the Gospels. They're new and wonderful every time.
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Andrew Crook
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« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2012, 12:55:28 AM »

So I haven't posted in awhile, but I've been thinking.  Is it possible that one can truly convert too quickly?  I haven't exactly prayed very much, which I suppose is part of the downfall of my own "spiritual life".  My priest told me that to get beyond doubt, you just have to pray more.

What is "beyond doubt"? Who believes beyond doubt?

Quote
There is however, no one my age that goes there and so a lack of community is what I was sensing.  About the only "Orthodox" community I got, was from being here on the internet -- whether it was on Facebook or here on this forum.

I'm in the same situation. It's no fun. Are there other Orthodox churches with young people you could get to know? Are you good at making friends with older people?

From my own experience, I would encourage you to read the Bible, especially the Gospels. They're new and wonderful every time.

Hi Rufus, I suppose you can't ever really escape your doubt.  But I was assuming that he meant, more prayer will make it easier to deal with such "doubts" as they arise. 

There is an Antiochian church in my area, it is a "convert parish" and everything is in English.  I truly like that church and sometimes wish I had joined that church instead.  I have a friend that goes to that one, and I figure I could go and visit him and meet more people in the process.  I'm okay with making friends with anyone, but I'm naturally a bit of a loner as it is.   I've never been one to just go to church to socialize,   I'd go to worship God, venerate the icons, possibly receive the Eucharist and then leave.  Yet I understand the importance of making friendships, especially when it comes to things like this..  and I do work in retail so my job requires me to be friendly, and to be able to talk to anyone. 
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