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Author Topic: Convinced about Orthodoxy, but girlfriend isn't.  (Read 1091 times) Average Rating: 0
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jackfolk
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« on: February 03, 2013, 02:12:34 PM »

Coming to Orthodoxy has been a slow process for me. I started reading about it several years ago a little at a time until I finally became completely convinced that it is truth. I'm not a catechumen yet. I haven't even attended an Orthodox service because the nearest church is an hour and a half away, but I nevertheless consider myself an aspiring Orthodox Christian.

Something that has been weighing heavily on my heart is that my girlfriend isn't where I'm at. It hurts a bit to think of it because, being something so important, I'd really like her to be where I am so we can move on together, especially going into our marriage. But we are at different stages.

We both come from similar evangelical backgrounds. The churches we knew best were legalistic, "Bible believing" churches that showed more judgement than love. We both left our churches because of that and developed a more "spiritual but not religious" attitude. We wanted God, but not all of the stuff that made our old churches such a bad experience. We came to associate "religion" and "ritual" with dead, meaningless things.

Since learning about Orthodoxy, my opinion has been reversed and I see so much beauty and love and truth in the Church and its practices. My girlfriend hasn't actively studied Orthodoxy, though. She only knows of it from what I tell her, but she isn't convinced or so willing to devote herself to it right now. Her old church really put her off of "systems" due to the amount of perceived failure and guilt she underwent there. She's very wary of "systems" of worship or institutional religion.

I feel a deep sadness for her and I being so far apart on the issue. I suppose I'm not in such a bad position, though, because when I bring it up to her about how worried I am and how sad it can make me, she will say, "Don't worry about that now. There's no reason. Don't you see how open I am to Orthodoxy?" And it's true. I've talked to her about visiting an Orthodox church some time, and while maybe not excited for it, she seems very glad to do it. When I talk to her about Orthodox theology and how it differs from the theology of western Christianity, she seems very refreshed, especially regarding the natures of sin and salvation.

She told me that part of the reason she doesn't like a "system" is that it forces her to do things she doesn't like. She has said she doesn't like going to church, or reading the Bible, or putting lots of thought into prayer. She is afraid that in Orthodoxy she would be forced to do those, then face the internal conflict of not wanting to but feeling obligated, and then ultimately failing and feeling guilty and judged for it. Hearing that obviously makes me sad, as I'm deeply inspired to go to services weekly, read the bible and pray constantly. Not because I have to, but because since beginning to associate myself with Orthodoxy, I've been so inspired to do so. I hope it will be the same for her.

But another bright side to the story, I asked her if she could ever overcome her aversion to church. She told me that if it depended on her will, it's unlikely, but if it depends on my will, it's likely. And she loves me so deeply I know she wants my will.

Anyway, I'm writing for support mostly. Whenever I remember this situation, I get pretty down about it. Has anyone else been here? How did it turn out?

Is there anything I might be able to teach her or say to her to help her move toward Orthodoxy?
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mabsoota
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« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2013, 02:29:29 PM »

the first step is to go to a church, ideally with your girlfriend.
i think it is difficult to understand by looking in from the outside.

many people here have experiences which are similar to yours, but the only way you can find out for yourself is to go and see.

may God guide u.
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JamesR
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« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2013, 09:28:21 PM »

Well, for starters, try not to force anything on her or be too aggressive. I know the stage she is going through because I went through it before I converted. Leave her alone; eventually, she'll want a sense of direction in her life and then the thought of a religious "system" will be more appealing to her and then you can convert her.
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You're really on to something here. Tattoo to keep you from masturbating, chew to keep you from fornicating... it's a whole new world where you outsource your crosses. You're like a Christian entrepreneur or something.
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James, you have problemz.
Nathanael
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2013, 03:17:49 PM »

Quote
She has said she doesn't like going to church, or reading the Bible, or putting lots of thought into prayer. She is afraid that in Orthodoxy she would be forced to do those, then face the internal conflict of not wanting to but feeling obligated, and then ultimately failing and feeling guilty and judged for it.

There's no obligation in orthodox church. There's indeed a system, for example confession, fasting, praying, etc. but she'll not be forced to follow them; this system exists not to gain directly salvation,but- how the 2000years old experience of orthodox church has proved- to fight most effectively against your passion and EGO, so that you may become a better person, so that God can more and more act through you. Ask her if she want to become a better person and how she want achieve that. (I cannot imagine how she want achieve that without going to church, reading bible and especially without praying).
To see your own weakness and sinfulness is a very important step but not easy to achieve.
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"Orthodoxy is the very nature of man" - Father Rafail Noica
ourlastdefeat
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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2013, 05:11:02 AM »

Jackfolk, I went through this exact same experience. My girl friend and I seriously decided that we were heading for marriage so I decided to take time to prepare myself spiritually for the role of being a husband, and I decided this for two reasons 1. My spiritual life wasn't bad but it wasn't were I wanted it to be and 2. If I could be a spiritual leader as a husband then I felt that I wasn't going to be a good husband. So I ended up becoming interested in Orthodoxy. I figured she wouldn't mind because earlier on in our relationship we discussed denominations and how they didn't matter and so forth (we both grew up in Protestant Churches), but when I decided to become a catechumen she left me, even after telling me how much she loved me and all of that. This in turn caused me to doubt Christ's call to the Orthodox Church and to be honest I'm still struggling with whether or not to convert both due to this event and because of personal Theological views.

Here's my advice, take things slow, both with Orthodoxy and with the relationship with your girl friend. The Orthodox Church is always going to be around so don't rush into it, and if your girl friend loves you as much as she says she does then she too won't be leaving any time soon. Talk about everything, be open and communicate clearly with each other on this issue, it sounds like you guys talk about things pretty well already so keep that up Smiley Don't pressure her, I've been told that most women are more reluctant to join the Orthodox Church than men are, how true that is I don't know and can't say, but I have seen some cases in which this is true.

I personally did not do the above advice that I just gave you, and I lost someone very dear to me, and after going through what I have gone through because of all of this, I do not wish that pain on anyone. My prayers will be with you, and your girl friend. May Christ bless you both.
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mabsoota
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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2013, 06:35:22 PM »

welcome to the forums, ournextvictory.
(do u mind if i change yr name?)

your advice is good. i have to say that i know of more orthodox husbands with non orthodox wives then orthodox wives with non orthodox husbands (though i am one of those).
keep up your spiritual journey; remember there is a God who loves you, and the only reason He lets you have difficult experiences is because you will grow through it.
keep up prayer and Bible study, and keep seeking till you find what you need.
may God guide you, and all who are seeking.
if you seek the first the kingdom of God, and it's righteousness, then you will have many other blessings.
 Smiley
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Nathanael
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2013, 07:11:51 PM »

Quote
but when I decided to become a catechumen she left me
Really?Sad. Excuse me, but what was exactly the reason?
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"Orthodoxy is the very nature of man" - Father Rafail Noica
ourlastdefeat
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« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2013, 06:11:59 AM »

mabsoota: while you may call me what you like you may confuse some others on the Forum when referring to me in a such a way, however I am fine with it as it means much the same.

I will continue to search for God's will. Christ said that if you should seek then you will find. I firmly believe that He was making an empirical statement of how reality works and the nature of truth and of the Kingdom of God, so I shall do exactly as he says Smiley

Nathanael: Everything happened so fast that there were several reasons. Some of it was my fault, some of it was hers, and some of it just seemed to be orchestrated by God himself, and if I were to recount everything then it would be much too long of a response. I will say that She just had some fundamental problems with Orthodoxy at the time when she was introduced to it, and no amount of good, sound, reasonable, logical argumentation on my part was going to change that. She did try at least a little and I really don't know much about her trying, but she at least has been exposed to the Church and I still pray all the time to the Saints, the Holy Theotokos, and to the Lord for her. Our break up happened close to a year ago now, so this isn't anything that has recently happened to me.
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