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Author Topic: Concern about being unable to get in touch with all I have sinned against  (Read 667 times) Average Rating: 0
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dottykins
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« on: September 10, 2012, 06:19:37 PM »

God commands that we be reconciled with each other and confess when we sin against each other, in addition to confessing our sins to God. I understand this to be an important part of repentance. There are some people that I have sinned against in the past and now have no way to apologize and ask for their forgiveness because they are either dead or I have lost track of them (like from an elementary school in another state). Recently, I asked a few Catholic and Protestant friends if this is going to affect my reconciliation with God. I was told that, with the exception of those who are deceased, I will never be right with God until I find those people and personally ask for their forgiveness. This has caused me a great deal of anxiety.

I'm curious to know what the Orthodox perspective is. Will I ever be able to reach a state of union with God if I'm unable to confess and ask for forgiveness from people I have wronged? I desperately want to become the person God created me to be and have a terrible fear that it won't happen, just like my friends believe, until I apologize to everyone that I had a personal relationship that I have sinned against. Currently, I have no priests in my area I can ask, so I humbly ask for wisdom from the Orthodox Christians on this site.

Thank you!
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« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2012, 07:52:25 PM »

God commands that we be reconciled with each other and confess when we sin against each other, in addition to confessing our sins to God. I understand this to be an important part of repentance. There are some people that I have sinned against in the past and now have no way to apologize and ask for their forgiveness because they are either dead or I have lost track of them (like from an elementary school in another state). Recently, I asked a few Catholic and Protestant friends if this is going to affect my reconciliation with God. I was told that, with the exception of those who are deceased, I will never be right with God until I find those people and personally ask for their forgiveness. This has caused me a great deal of anxiety.

I'm curious to know what the Orthodox perspective is. Will I ever be able to reach a state of union with God if I'm unable to confess and ask for forgiveness from people I have wronged? I desperately want to become the person God created me to be and have a terrible fear that it won't happen, just like my friends believe, until I apologize to everyone that I had a personal relationship that I have sinned against. Currently, I have no priests in my area I can ask, so I humbly ask for wisdom from the Orthodox Christians on this site.

Thank you!
God forgives.

Also, God is not petty. You are making a good faith effort at repentance. Logistics is not as important as the state of a sinner's heart.
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« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2012, 08:21:49 PM »

Sometimes death or geographic distance makes face-to-face reconciliation impossible. There are also situations where it is not wise to revisit some people or past events - often for the sake of the offended party. There are also times that what we fear has been an offence may not be perceived as such to the other party and our seeking to reconcile is misunderstood entirely.

Do what you can with those who are currently in your life, as least as a starting point. God may direct you to others in good time.

Each morning I include the following in my intercessions:
"Save, O Lord, and have mercy on those whom I have offended or scandalized by my madness or inadvertence, and whom I have turned from the way of salvation, and whom I have led into evil and harmful deeds. By Your divine providence restore them again to the way of salvation."

I do what I can, and with confidence leave the rest in God's hands.
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« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2013, 11:48:25 PM »


People with alot of any type of long term abstinence in any 12 step program are good to seek spiritual advice from on making amends to people.12 step recovery and spiritually healthy people who use it can often be trusted and the fact that the 12 steps came from the AA Big Book wich came from the Oxford Group wich came from the Methodist Church wich came from John Wesley who was a good Christian who studied the Bible and the teachings of a great Christian named ?St. Ephraim the Syrian ?(one of our saints) backs up that claim...I think the fear of not being able to be right with God without a huge impossible demand like this can be diabolical or fleshly though.I have had this exact fear for a long time but I got it from being a Hare Krishna (Hindu) devotee...One thing they were right about is that you screw up your concious contact with God by resenting and offending people and making amends is a way to get very close to Him but you have to be practical and accept that youll never make all the amends and God forgives.Just do the best you can.And but making amends may not work if you dont first write out a thorough inventory of all your resentments and thoroughly turn the other cheek and/or clarify your side of the street (wich sometimes may simply be that we suffer from pride so badly,etc.)..Followed by a confession ... You really should find a good Orthodox priest to talk to .. and maybe check out Emotions Anonymous or something..Or maybe I just need to stop giving advice (thats quite probable too)...
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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2013, 01:38:08 PM »

God commands that we be reconciled with each other and confess when we sin against each other, in addition to confessing our sins to God. I understand this to be an important part of repentance. There are some people that I have sinned against in the past and now have no way to apologize and ask for their forgiveness because they are either dead or I have lost track of them (like from an elementary school in another state). Recently, I asked a few Catholic and Protestant friends if this is going to affect my reconciliation with God. I was told that, with the exception of those who are deceased, I will never be right with God until I find those people and personally ask for their forgiveness. This has caused me a great deal of anxiety.

I'm curious to know what the Orthodox perspective is. Will I ever be able to reach a state of union with God if I'm unable to confess and ask for forgiveness from people I have wronged? I desperately want to become the person God created me to be and have a terrible fear that it won't happen, just like my friends believe, until I apologize to everyone that I had a personal relationship that I have sinned against. Currently, I have no priests in my area I can ask, so I humbly ask for wisdom from the Orthodox Christians on this site.

Thank you!

Being non-denominational, I am not sure how you guys approach this issues...First of all I would confess to the  (Orthodox) priest. Once you have done so,try to ask forgivness from those whom you have wronged. If you can then great. If you are unable to do so, then do not worry about it. It is what is in our heart that God seeks. Also I would not stress about getting in touch with people from the childhood unless it was a major sin...but would still confess them to the priest. You mention that you don' have a priest close by so look up online which Orhodox parish is closest to you and then contact him by phone and or email. Don't despair. God forgivess all sins except the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. 
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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2013, 01:42:09 PM »

Here is a link for the online directory of Orthodox parishes in North America
http://assemblyofbishops.org/directories/parishes
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« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2013, 01:53:41 PM »

I have no idea if the Orthodox Church has some official stance on such a matter, how could it?

But from my experience this sounds like madness. Being involved in a cult that would purport to engage in such practices I can tell you that we more sane members know that some things are worse to confess and ask for forgiveness for than not to.

Your suggestion doesn't fit Scripture nor Orthodox theology as I understand it nor common sense.

Many a would be repentant have uprooted more than a few lives in their attempt to make things "right". God ain't bound by the hearts or minds of men. And harming others in search of forgiveness (read peace of mind) for yourself seems like a rather self-centered act.

I am sorry to hear you are so vexed by this. Many great posts are above mine.

« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 01:55:27 PM by orthonorm » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2013, 05:23:04 PM »

I can think of no greater thing you can do than to pray for those you have sinned against.  The desire to dig up the past to ask forgiveness can often be rooted in selfish desire to make yourself feel better and is of little benefit to the offended party.  Tread carefully.
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« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2013, 08:47:04 PM »

I have no idea if the Orthodox Church has some official stance on such a matter, how could it?

But from my experience this sounds like madness. Being involved in a cult that would purport to engage in such practices I can tell you that we more sane members know that some things are worse to confess and ask for forgiveness for than not to.

Your suggestion doesn't fit Scripture nor Orthodox theology as I understand it nor common sense.

Many a would be repentant have uprooted more than a few lives in their attempt to make things "right". God ain't bound by the hearts or minds of men. And harming others in search of forgiveness (read peace of mind) for yourself seems like a rather self-centered act.

I am sorry to hear you are so vexed by this. Many great posts are above mine.




I assumed you were talking to or reffering to me (forgive me) and so naturally it hurt and I was about to give a passionate rebuttal but then my connection shut-off as - being a LESS sane person - I only get 30 minutes at a time in this post-treatment program I live in - me being a chronicly homeless 45-day sober drug-addict who is truly in the process - more than Ive ever been - of truly accepting the fact that I truly do suffer from insanity.As I inventoried this resentment at your comment I recieved Divine consolation that Jesus is still my friend even though Im insane - in fact He condescends very low to me when I realize that I am sick and need His help.Now I must resist the temptation to be an oxymoronical pharasaical publican thanking God Im not like you "more sane" people(Why do we have to be snarky with each other on oc.net ?)....Anyhoo: I like how true organic Orthodox spirituality was more actiony before the days of theology that only came about to counteract that heretic invention.Fr. Paisias Aschultz of St. Mary of Egypt Serbian Orthodox Church helped put out a REALLY good packet of literature called "Addicted to the World." He traces 12-Step recovery to its Orthodox roots and the 9th step reads " I now go directly to these persons to seek forgiveness,reconcilation,restitution or release,whenever and with whomever possible,unless to do so would cause further harm." Some of the scriptural references are: Proverbs 6 1-5: My son, if you become surety for your friend,
If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,
2 You are snared by the words of your mouth;
You are taken by the words of your mouth.
3 So do this, my son, and deliver yourself;
For you have come into the hand of your friend:
Go and humble yourself;
Plead with your friend.
4 Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids.
5 Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Exodus 22:1,6 - “If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep. 2 If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. 3 If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. 4 If the theft is certainly found alive in his hand, whether it is an ox or donkey or sheep, he shall restore double.

5 “If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed, and lets loose his animal, and it feeds in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard.

6 “If fire breaks out and catches in thorns, so that stacked grain, standing grain, or the field is consumed, he who kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.

Leviticus 6:1-5 -And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “If a person sins and commits a trespass against the Lord by lying to his neighbor about what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or about a pledge, or about a robbery, or if he has extorted from his neighbor, 3 or if he has found what was lost and lies concerning it, and swears falsely—in any one of these things that a man may do in which he sins: 4 then it shall be, because he has sinned and is guilty, that he shall restore what he has stolen, or the thing which he has extorted, or what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or the lost thing which he found, 5 or all that about which he has sworn falsely. He shall restore its full value, add one-fifth more to it, and give it to whomever it belongs, on the day of his trespass offering.



Ill add the quotes from the Holy Fathers on this later.Not everyone may need to go on an amends making escipade but recovering drug addicts and alcoholics do tend to need to get to this point in God's time in a way that doesnt cause further harm of wich 12 step recovery through God has perfected the art of.
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« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2013, 09:44:54 PM »


Many a would be repentant have uprooted more than a few lives in their attempt to make things "right". God ain't bound by the hearts or minds of men. And harming others in search of forgiveness (read peace of mind) for yourself seems like a rather self-centered act.

I am sorry to hear you are so vexed by this. Many great posts are above mine.

Indeed!  And this below as well:

I can think of no greater thing you can do than to pray for those you have sinned against.  The desire to dig up the past to ask forgiveness can often be rooted in selfish desire to make yourself feel better and is of little benefit to the offended party.  Tread carefully.

Recently, I asked a few Catholic and Protestant friends if this is going to affect my reconciliation with God. I was told that, with the exception of those who are deceased, I will never be right with God until I find those people and personally ask for their forgiveness.

From my keyboard to a stranger, I recommend you filter (or even ignore) that advice from your friends.  As Orthonorm wrote, this is not consistent with scriptural or Orthodox thinking.  I guess that thief on the cross was, contrary to what we're taught, damned, as he was logistically unable to fulfill the tasks.

Quote
This has caused me a great deal of anxiety.

That doesn't surprise me at all, as your friends' course of action is really a mission leading towards obsession, neurosis, and ultimately, to failure.  It's great that you are taking repentance so seriously, as this is crucially stressed, but as Agabus said, God is not petty.  

Best wishes in this struggle--I'm familiar with it as well.
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« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2013, 10:11:07 PM »

That doesn't surprise me at all, as your friends' course of action is really a mission leading towards obsession, neurosis, and ultimately, to failure.
This is a fact.


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« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2013, 10:26:25 PM »

Personally Im not baptized into the Church yet and there are alot of things I am still in the dark about or dont apply to me yet and so the notion that making amends to people youve harmed in life is not necissary is good news.But many people have been finding the deep communion with God needed in order to remain sane,not abuse alcohol,drugs,food,sex,etc.,etc.(and die in their sin) by working 12 step recovery of wich amends making is not something to be skipped,if they want to remain sober in every sense of the word...And with that its perhaps not the amends making itself that saves - its the humility,contrition of heart and love,etc. that results from the action that saves in fullilling the words of Christ :Matthew 5:24-26 - 23 "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing."

Abba John the Dwarf: Sayings of the Desert Fathers #39 : "A house is not built by beginning at the top and working down.You must begin with the foundations in order to reach the top." They said to him,"What does this saying mean?" He said,"The foundation is our neighbor,whom we must win,and that is the place to begin.For all the commandments of Christ depend on this one."

So dottykins dont listen to peoples' cynical comments who you would think are supposed to know better if you are an alcoholic or drug addict otherwise their advice may literally be deadly for you.


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« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2013, 11:13:33 PM »

Let me rephrase my though: ask God for forgivness through confession, but what the biggest issue here is you forgiving yourself. God is forgiving to those who recognize their sins and wholeheartedly asks God for forgivness without intending to repeat those sins. There is a need to didtinguish between what your conscience tells you [the need to confess] vs the dark ideas [of not being forgiven by others and having to tract all of them...] which are suggested to you by the evil forces [don't mean the people but the demons which put those thoughts in our heads]. So I repeat you need to forgive yourself and move on and the only way of doing so is by following Christ and His forgivin nature to those who honestly are sorry for their mistakes and with God's help wish to try not to make in the future. All of us have sinned except Christ who is perfect. Let God take away all of your burden. Don't despair but turn to Christ to Whom everything is possible even to forgive deeds of biggest sinner as it is rexorded in the Bible.
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« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2013, 05:43:09 PM »

There are some people that I have sinned against in the past and now have no way to apologize and ask for their forgiveness because they are either dead or I have lost track of them

I don't know the answer, but if it's any comfort, you are not alone. The same conundrum troubles me also - and some of the things I did may date back nearly forty years.
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