On Hiatus

14 03 2008

I never dreamed when I started this blog that I would be so blessed.  The feedback I’ve received here has been a gift I will always treasure. 

But I must confess that as I’ve embraced Orthodoxy, my spiritual life in general has suffered as, outside of the blog world, it has been a solitary journey that has resulted in my being spiritually isolated from my other Christian friends and, most importantly, my family.  

I knew this was a danger all along, but I’m surprised by how quickly it has effected me.   I am now in a state of profound spiritual depression and feel like I must take a break from my interest/obession with the Orthodox faith.  

Perhaps I just don’t have the courage to make the leap at this time and will be better prepared to bring this matter before the Lord when I have some distance behind me.  For now, I’m just not strong enough to take this any further. 

I am much obliged to you all for the kindness and love you’ve shared with me.  May God bless you richly.      

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13 responses

14 03 2008
Nicodemus

JFred – I will certainly miss the rich interaction your blog has fostered. Most importantly, though, I will keep you in my prayers. You have had a beautiful and rewarding search which seems to have left you in a quandry. To be certain, your Christian life and faith will never be the same. The brightness, intensity, and enamoring effect of the faith which you experienced will be something you will always remember, and perhaps yearn for again sometime in the future. Its lingering effect will be with you as you read your Bible, as you hear sermons, and as you fellowship with other Christians.

I too am not much of a trend-setter or mold-breaker. The last thing I wanted was for me and my family was to attend different churches. I didn’t want to have to tell my Christian friends I became Orthodox since their understanding of my actions would most likely be misunderstood no matter how well I tried to explain it.

Because I remained convinced that it wasn’t a fluke that I discovered Orthodoxy, I figured it would be better to push ahead in faith leaving the results in God’s hands. I never felt more like Abraham than at this moment, as I felt like I was sacrificing the faith of my children and the stability of my marriage by becoming an Orthodox Christian.

I made this jump a little over a year ago. It was scary, and it was lonely. But, I am so very glad I did. My fears were never realized – in fact, my marriage seems happier and more stable than it has ever been in my entire life! My hope and prayer is that my wife and children one day join me, but for now, I live out the faith with their support, but still in an isolated way from my family. I no longer try and convert them, but simply love them and try my best to show them the beauty and richness of the life-giving Orthodox Christian Tradition.

Once again, thank you for your wonderful blog! I have enjoyed reading and posting here. May God’s profound peace and healing grace be yours as you continue in your journey to a deeper walk with Him.

14 03 2008
neil

Thanks for the update, JFred.

Everywhere I go, I hear that Orthodoxy is patient. From your writing, it seems like you are seeking God Himself and not some “church endorsed” distraction. Hang in there. Take care of your family and continue to seek God.

When you feel like you can, may I suggest making friends with an Orthodox priest (if you haven’t already)? In my experience (admittedly limited), I’ve never met one who pressures me to give up my current church path to come rushing in to the Orthodox Church. Just the opposite, actually, I’ve received counsel to keep in step with my family, but take up some simple rule of prayer and make it to liturgy when I can.

Take that for what its worth. Take care and keep in touch, if you want. I’ll miss you on the ‘net.

Peace,
neil

15 03 2008
Dixie

I have so enjoyed reliving my discovery of Orthodoxy in your writings. I am sorry to see that you put this up but I understand. I echo what Neil has to say.

15 03 2008
Dixie

Whoops…I hit send too soon!

Find a priest if you can and don’t already have one. A priest will guide you properly. My priest permitted me to seek Orthodoxy apart from my spouse but I have seen him discourage others until their spouses were ready. He just seems to know.

I too greatly feared what my conversion might do to my family and my marriage but in the end that fear was wasted energy. My husband has grown accustomed to his going to the Lutheran church while I go to the Orthodox Church. Our youngest son even comes with me on occasion to the Greek Church although so far he isn’t interested in becoming Orthodox.

The thing is…don’t be surprised if you don’t quite “fit” in your former situation. Orthodoxy has a way of changing people. We’ll be here if you need us.

15 03 2008
Anonymous

I understand that spiritual depression that comes. It’s very hard, looking at Orthodoxy, being pulled in several different directions. I haven’t figured it out yet either.

15 03 2008
nichole3

Don’t give up JFred. Take a break if you must but don’t close down your blog. When you have rested–come back to us. We are praying and waiting.

15 03 2008
operationmeaning

JFred, you are a very inspirational person and your search has shown me the extra blessing that God bestowed upon me. When I was searching Orthodoxy after I left my abusive and unfaithful husband, I didn’t have to give up anything for it. I mean I had already isolated myself and cut connections with most of my friends and support group when I was in my marriage. And my parents followed me into Orthodoxy. They weren’t discouraging at all. So, thankyou for reminding me of my blessing.

Sometimes, God allows certain people’s journey to be more difficult than others, and we cannot always understand why. But you are being refined as gold, and you will become out spotless and pure. The Orthodox Faith does not advocate breaking up marriages and causing discord in families. The Orthodox Faith is rooted in love. So, by taking a break from your “obsession,” you may be doing the most Orthodox thing.

You mentioned that you read the Fr. Arseny books. Do you remember the woman who was tonsured a nun but lived her life out in the secular world. She lived her Orthodox life out in a family that forbid her to display her icons or go to church. By yet Fr. Arseny thought that she was a very saintly woman. Her family was always amazed by how much she loved them and sacrificed for them. She was truly living the Orthodox path even though her circumstance didn’t allow her to display it on the outside.

My friend, I will be praying for you. I am going to make the commitment to pray for you every day untill your family and friends are at the point when they can respect your journey and your search. I will pray for you for years and even if I don’t hear anything from you. So, take a break from the outward display of your search. Live the path of Orthodoxy inside and Christ will reward you, but in His time not yours.

Much Love in Christ, Vera

16 03 2008
s-p

Actually what you are doing is pretty normal. A lot of people go through an “obsession” stage investigating Orthodoxy, then drop out and come back later with some sobriety and more of a tempered walk. I always tell people it is a walk, not a sprint, but when you’ve never walked or sprinted you don’t know the difference. At the risk of delving into deeply personal territory, my experience has been that the “obsession” stage is sometimes a reflection or function of a personality/emotional/psychological issue that is played out in what appears on the surface to be a spiritual quest. That is not a bad thing if someone ultimately uses the experience to come to grips with areas of life that need addressing and finds a self awareness and comes to the journey again later as a more mature and whole person. It is better to wrestle with this stuff now than two years from now as someone received into the Church as a zealous convert by a priest without discernment and leave the Faith thinking it was only a “stage” you went through, which I’ve also seen too many times. May God bless your haitus in the journey. This is as important as what you’ve been through up to now.

16 03 2008
CAL

JFred, there’s not much I can add that hasn’t been said. But I will say that I deeply respect your decision to take care of your heart and your relationships, that is very important. God bless you, friend. I pray you find peace, comfort and joy in Him who is the fullness of our faith; and in your family, and with your friends.

18 03 2008
John

JFred, I cannot add much to the excellent comments already made. Your need for a “breather” is totally understandable. I made the move to Orthodoxy without my wife. Every situation is different, but I wouldn’t advise anyone else doing it. Perhaps I was too impulsive, but I had reached the point where there was no longer any way I could not be Orthodox. My wife was convinced that I had become a totally different person than the one she had been married to for so many years. Things are much better…now, but it was tough for a while. Hopefully, in the succeeding years, I have convinced her that I am the same man I always was. As for my family–my son and nephew are about to become catechumens. So, who knows, perhaps in God’s own time, my wife may come around, as well. These things seldom work out on the timetables we imagine. So, my prayers are with you and your family and your journey.

3 04 2008
Shortcake

I am experiencing a similar spiritual depression (as is my husband, in a different way). My parents recently converted to orthodoxy after 30 years of ministry and involvement in Bible churches (in fact, they also read your blog regularly).

Their conversion was a life altering decision that greatly affected me in ways I never could have imagined. Ever the faithful Bible church Evangelical, I felt completely derailed by this earth shattering move.

I was raised as a Bible church kid, everything I know is wired in the Evangelical world. My parents didn’t really come into their faith until college, whereas I have it wired in my brain from my youngest developmental stages. My brain doesn’t even have a place to plug this new stuff!

I’m struggling greatly to embrace their new way but have found myself overwhelmed instead. As a result, I am watching them grow further and further away as I remain still, trying to decide what to do about the precipice on which I now stand. I see that I am between 2 very different worlds.

I have also stepped way back from my obsessive need to learn and understand the Orthodox faith. I realize that, as with many educational experiences in life, I must let what I have learned season or age – much like a good wine. The information I have gathered thus far needs time to seep into the cracks, otherwise all I’m doing is “flooding the streets”.

And, for the time being, I know I’m certainly not ready to make the step into Orthodoxy. But I’m finding comfort in the fact that, regardless of the congregation I step into, as long as I remember that Christ is the one way to God, I have found the only path I must find. God knows my heart and that I want to find truth. And I try to rest in that knowledge.

It’s a very difficult place to be. I don’t have the answers, but I will pray for you and your family.

18 04 2008
Patt

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matt 11:28-12:1

I just stumbled on your blog post, friend, and this verse came to mind for you….

20 05 2008
Orthodox

Why must you be isolated from contacts IN the church though? And will taking a “break” from Orthodoxy really restore the situation with your friends?

And keep sharing here. Share your depression here and let us help you carry it.

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