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Spiritually DRAGGING

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by gurneyhalleck1, Oct 24, 2014.

  1. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Handmaid of God † CF Senior Ambassador Supporter

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    Gurney, Athelstan,

    My prayers for both of you.

    Lord have mercy.
     
  2. E.C.

    E.C. Well-Known Member

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    Gurney, I think xenia's post may be the most realistic course of action here.

    Arabic. Loved the climate on base, hated the teachers! :D
     
  3. Barky

    Barky Member Supporter

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    Know that I am in a similar boat, that's all I can offer. My drought seems to be centered around Orthodox culture in particular, though getting up to go to Liturgy is always a struggle. I feel orphaned (can I make that a verb?) by God, but I go to Ecclesiastes for some company in my misery (vanity, vanity, all is vanity). Lord have mercy.
     
  4. Ioustinos

    Ioustinos Veteran

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    Gurney,

    I don't know if your financial situation would allow this but why not take the family on a mini-vacation?

    You could make it like a little pilgrimage to get away from everything and just recharge. Perhaps you could visit a parish you've always wanted to visit outside your area and mix in some family fun and attend a nice, pleasant liturgy. What about Fr. Josiah Trenham's parish in Riverside, CA? It's a beautiful parish and SoCal has stuff to do.

    Or you could visit a monastery like St. Anthonys in Arizona or Holy Archangels in Texas and spend a little time at the monastery and a little sight seeing with the family.

    I honestly think you just need to get away for a bit. It won't cure everything but it will give you a chance to break away and not dwell on these things for a few days.

    Learn from the life of St. Anthony:

    A hunter, wandering through the desert, came upon Abba Anthony while he was making jokes with the brethren; and he was shocked. Wishing to teach the hunter that it is sometimes necessary to relax with the brethren, the old man said to him: “Put an arrow in your bow and bend it.” The hunter did so. “Bend it a little more,” said Anthony. The hunter obeyed. “And still more,” Anthony told him. “But if I draw the string too tight,” said the hunter, “the bow will snap.” And the old man said to him: “It is the same in the work of God. If in the case of the brethren we draw the string too tight, they will snap under the strain. So it is necessary sometimes to relax with them.” When the hunter heard this, he was filled with compunction, and profiting much from what the old man had said, he went his way. And the brethren, greatly strengthened, departed to their own place.


    We all need a break sometime. Think about just enjoying some time with your family without being bothered by these issues.

    You are in my unworthy prayers, brother.
     
  5. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    I can offer more prayers for you man. I still offer reader's services with your family, and then once every couple of weeks go to the Greek Monastery for Communion and Confession (since it is the same distance from your hometown).
     
  6. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Handmaid of God † CF Senior Ambassador Supporter

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    My thoughts may be way off on this, but I have been considering it. Particularly since it seems to be afflicting several here, and I am trying to keep my eyes open as well, because I am approaching baptism myself (I hope - if we can ever get the dates worked out!).

    Maybe I am wrong. But I do see how Orthodoxy is so ... full ... that it can become a focus in itself. And at times I slip towards that. Fr. Matthew I think helps reel me back in. Thank God for him. But when I was praying for you all just now, as I said I may be wrong, but I kept remembering - Jesus said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath."

    All of the fullness of the Orthodox faith - it is there for us, is it not? Am I wrong? Of course it is for God as well, but we should be benefiting from all of this? Fasting is for the taming of our flesh? Prayers are to put us in mind of God and remind us of Who He is? The communion of the Saints is for our benefit rather than theirs? And so on?

    If all of that starts to drag us down and entangle us, then maybe we are looking at things the wrong way? Please forgive me - I don't mean to lecture. It's just a bit of an eye-opener for me, and I want to offer it in case it can help anyone. I know that's not practical advice, just a thought. But I hoped it might help?

    God bless you all - thank you to everyone for being here for me as well. And you remain in my prayers, Gurney, Athelstan, and now Barky.

    God bless you, dear brothers.
     
  7. gurneyhalleck1

    gurneyhalleck1 Reader

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    I appreciate it, Kylissa. My journey has been a crazy one. I went into Orthodoxy KICKING AND SCREAMING! I liked so much about the theology, found the history and theological arguments quite compelling, and like how they haven't innovated so much. But a part of me kept saying, "is the West really a collapsed failure? My ancestors are Irish, German, English, etc. I'm a Western boy, and proud of it! This place doesn't have any connection for my cultural heritage. I'm a Tolkien guy living in a world of Tolstoy!" ^_^:p I never liked that the liturgy is so super long. It's draining. I love the piety, but I must have liturgical ADD or something, because I easily lose focus. And I get tired. I yawn and yawn. From the first day I got burned out praying for the same things over and over. Later I learned why we do that. But still I often tire.

    I have observed a lot of glossing over Serbian atrocities, Russian intrigue and corruption, and a lot of the other political stuff that gets sugar-coated simply because they're Orthodox and don't like LGBT garbage. I do find the church-state relationship in Orthodoxy to be strange bedfellows and funky.

    When I had a huge falling-out with my godfather, it changed a lot of things. He and his wife and kids and me, my wife, and kids don't interface AT ALL the way we used to! And I really realized how much cronyism goes on at my parish. There are tons of Tea Party conspiracy theorists and paranoid folks at my parish. Long story.

    I agree with what you say about the Sabbath and the core of your little epiphany in your post. I ESPECIALLY thank you for your prayers! I'm fried....My wife isn't half as fried as I for a couple of reasons--first of all she wanted Orthodoxy more than me, and secondly, she only goes to church once, MAYBE twice a month due to work while I go far more often taking my 3 kids and eating up a day while she sleeps. So her batteries are more charged up.

    Gotta run.

     
  8. SeventhValley

    SeventhValley Guest

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    Cronyism and other similar isms :) go on at every church(and every organization). My Dad took over twenty years to become a deacon at the church he attends. My mom(after having done everything in every possible position(that a woman was allowed to do) at the church was barley even seen as a member by most people there. Why...because she was not in the inner circle of home school moms but was a... gasp.......public school teacher!(she recently said "I'm done" after hard work got her nowhere but inner circle people could do anything wrong and never be jeopardized in their positions.

    It is just people...people suck.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2014
  9. Chesterton

    Chesterton Whats So Funny bout Peace Love and Understanding Supporter

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    Why do we do that?
     
  10. gurneyhalleck1

    gurneyhalleck1 Reader

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    No disagreement whatsoever. There HAS been cronyism in all the churches I've been in. Usually $$$$ and sucking up will get you far. When I first came to our church, I didn't really know anyone. Since I live in Visalia, people told me that this reader, John, and his family also live in Visalia. And since the guy also worked in my school district (as a principal), I thought, "hot dang!" and people suggested they be our sponsors. So, when I asked, they were quick to accept and very friendly. It was funny because we found out that they liked Star Trek, WE are Trekkie nerds! They liked all the same movies as us, same music, and we just had tons in common. It was exciting. I really felt like we had met kindred spirits. John was in tight with Father, so I thought that is kind of cool.

    Well, once we got chrismated and they were our godparents, things changed. They got very, very pushy. If we indicated we couldn't make it to certain events or liturgies or vespers, they'd harp harp harp harp nag nag nag and put us in these high-pressure situations for not planning on going. The difference between them and us is that the wife is a CEO of a huge afterschool program in central CA and makes AWESOME money, and he's a principal pulling in around $92,000 a year. They're loaded! So they can afford to drive up to Fresno 1,000 times a week if they want. Kate wasn't working when we became Orthodox, and we were in debt $47,000!!!! We were on a tight budget, and frankly I thought re-locating to a church 55 miles from home was a touch insane, but I liked Orthodoxy and my wife was enamored.

    As time went by, their nagging got worse. I felt like I was at a used car lot.

    Then John just announced out of NOWHERE that he was going to be the new deacon. He literally told us the day before the liturgy where he was installed as deacon. It was crazy! Nobody in the entire parish new. It was like some super closely-guarded secret.

    After he became deacon and wasn't a yeller, uh, I mean, reader anymore, he told Father "I want Scott (Joseph) to be a reader." He told Father I'd be good for it. I had only been Orthodox a couple of months, and I thought I barely knew the ropes. There were many men there who had been there longer than I. I felt I was too new and rookied up to be a reader. Also, I felt I just wanted to participate as a worshipper, not a reader at that time. And then John kept pressuring me, Father did, too, so I said "OK." After that, I stressed about it, felt worried, and my spirit wasn't at peace about it. I felt God wasn't telling me that I should be a reader. So, after they put my name in the bulletin, I told Father I think I better bow out. I told him that I'd like the opportunity down the road, but that I wasn't ready.

    And at that same time, Deacon John and I had that MEGA BLOW-OUT in front of Father in which they ganged up on me regarding my kids being at a Lutheran school. John said, "Scott, you'll finally be able to pull your kids out of that heretic academy and quit filling their minds with heresies and lies and put them at my school where they can get a real education." I argued back and was quite upset, Father backed him (predictably), and it escalated. I told him by the time this fray was over "you have NO RIGHT to tell me how to educate or parent my kids. I don't appreciate it."

    After that, I left the church for about two and a half months. It was actually really nice.

    Then we felt guilty, Father kept emailing me trying to get me back, so we went back. We apologized for our part, Deacon and his wife only apologized for "hurting us," not for what they said, but whatever....

    But after that, things were NEVER the same. All of the people who had liked Kate and I A LOT and who had seemed keen to talk to us backed away and sat at other tables. Only a few folks would eat with us. Deacon's wife was never the same. To this day, when I go to DL, she utterly ignores me. The next week, when Kate is there, she comes and kisses me on each cheek and acts like she loves us, then ignores us at coffee hour. After a year and a half, I told Father that I noticed he had no readers and was looking for one, that I'd be more than glad to do it now. He seemed real hip to it. Then never did anything. Then I asked a second time months later. He said "definitely! I'll call you and we'll get it going!" nothing. Then six months later we talked about it again, nothing. Finally the fifth or sixth time we talked about it, he took me back by the altar behind the iconostasis and taught me the reading process for about 45 minutes. He said he'd email me about it, set me into the schedule, and we'd rock n' roll.

    His proceeding actions were to get his teenage son, who mumbles and can't read worth beans to do it. He seems to HATE reading, raises this grin like it's embarrassing the whole time he does it. And it's in this low monotone that someone makes when they are reluctant to do something. He hates doing it. Then Father had another parishioner of ours read who has the mousiest, tiny, slight, puny voice you've ever heard. They had him do it a couple times. Then Father grabbed the choir bass guy to do it. Then he had a visitor do it.

    Ughhh----HELLO!? Here I am? I've offered? You've told me I have an awesome voice for this? I lead the post-communion prayers each week when I'm there. People respect my voice for this and I'm eager to try? No? No? Ok, gotcha....

    Weird.

    I guess he's sending me the message of "hey, buddy, you HAD your chance!"

    Basically when John and Father thought I was playing ball and cool in their clique, I was IN. When John and I fought and they found I had my own brain...OUT.

    So it sucks.

    I'm not interested in being a reader now. But the strange experience lingers. I think Father is annoyed by me.

    So it's just not a happy place for me. Add in the ethnic stuff that is starting to SERIOUSLY annoy me, and the distance and energy drain, and I'm fried. And I guess I get as sick to death of the exclusivity arguments and apologetics and born-again Orthodox stuff as I did in the Catholic Church!

     
  11. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Handmaid of God † CF Senior Ambassador Supporter

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    Wow, Gurney (Joseph) ... I knew some of this. Some I didn't. I don't know what to say.

    On the one hand, yes, all churches have their issues. My own parish - yes, I won't go into details, but I know who is upset with whom and why. There are too many families whose lives have been intertwined for decades or even generations and sometimes hurts go deep.

    But I don't know ... it doesn't affect things in the way it does in yours. And I can't help but think that a priest ought to be recognizing situations and restoring relationships, not being part of the problem in holding a grudge. I'm too new to all of this but ... how can a priest hear confessions if you know he holds things against people? I could never have considered becoming Orthodox in the middle of a situation like you are facing (and I understand it didn't become that way until after you were Chrismated).

    I don't know. What I say is bad enough. I feel like I'm judging your priest, which I don't think I should do. Maybe people have different strengths, but then maybe if you're going to be a parish priest, you have to be able to work out things like this among the "family". Just as if you're going to be a confessor, I think you have to be able to not hold things against people whose confessions you hear. It's bad for the one confessing, and it's got to be bad for the confessor too.

    I'm just shaking my head. It doesn't sound right.

    I may be wrong, and I may be over-critical for your sake. And I don't know what a person is to do.

    Running away never seems right, but otoh, I think you need to do what's best for your family if the situation can't be fixed. It almost makes me think of a married couple needing a counselor to go-between and work out issues. But that would be the priest's job, wouldn't it? If he's part of the problem, I don't know what to think.

    What do you think of asking him outright if he's trying to send you that "message"? Laying out all the grievances in a private meeting, to see if he sees things the same way, and try to heal it?

    It shouldn't be this way between any of the brethren. Is it possible you can be misreading the situation? I don't know what else it can be ... but maybe he's thinking something different than what you believe he is thinking?

    If you can't work things out with him or don't wish to, then ... it does sound like you should take a break. Have you ever done reader services, and have any idea how it will work for your family? And there's a Greek monastery the same distance away? Though from what I've heard, going to a monastery for confession is probably not a good idea while you're already having spiritual difficulties. Maybe there are several confessors there and you can choose one that won't make things harder on you right now?

    Just thinking out loud. Sorry I don't know what to suggest. You do still have my prayers, of course. Maybe getting that off your chest can help you feel better too.

    God bless you and your family, dear brother.
     
  12. gurneyhalleck1

    gurneyhalleck1 Reader

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    Hey Kylissa,

    I appreciate the insight and thoughts, trust me. Your "thinking out loud" is great.

    I went to Confession with Father Jim, the Greek priest down the street from my parish, and he was pretty good as a confessor. The reason I went was my parish priest was out of town at a yearly convention, diocesan days.

    Father Jim was great. I considered confessing to him my frustrations, but the big problem is that he's Father's BEST BUDDY, and he POSITIVELY WORSHIPS our deacon John. I've had him say so to me. So I'm not so sure that would benefit me much.

    I really need to go to Confession for plenty of things right now. I'm pretty stained with sin and just bad feelings. Not sure if I'll go this weekend. I'm pretty fried, but part of me wants healing. The other part could care less. Weird.

     
  13. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    I can understand your issue here. where I am, and I won't go into details, but there are some problem folk as well, and one of these problem folk has the ear of one of the priests up here. people, however, still go to said priest for confession because they know that the priest cannot divulge any info (not that he would, because he is a very good priest), and that the reason for the confession is the grace of absolution from God. this Fr Jim sounds like a good confessor, so I'd go to him even if he is close to your priest if it were me.
     
  14. SeventhValley

    SeventhValley Guest

    +0
    Or like Diogenes of Sinope....;)

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 1, 2014
  15. Dorothea

    Dorothea One of God's handmaidens

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    AH! Somebody who's in the same boat as I have been for the past nearly year. I'll pray for you and please pray for me, gurney. :hug:
     
  16. xenia

    xenia Contributor

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    Anybody left on TAW who is a happy Orthodox Christian?
     
  17. Ioustinos

    Ioustinos Veteran

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    I'm happy with Orthodoxy. I'm just not always happy with my sinful self. :crosseo:
     
  18. Antony in Tx

    Antony in Tx a sinner

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    I'm happy. I'm an Orthodox Christian. Right now my Orthopraxis suffers a bit, but that can be worked on. As for those around me...not my place to judge, only to pray for them and hope that they can feel God's Grace.
     
  19. gurneyhalleck1

    gurneyhalleck1 Reader

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    I'm sorry if my frustrations, spiritual funk, and burned-out journey lately has affected this forum or you, Xenia. I guess I just didn't know who to turn to. I'm on my own a lot, and in my "real life" I don't know ANY Orthodox Christians! The only ones I know are an hour away. Around my town, if you tell someone you're Orthodox, they say, "Oh wow, didn't know you were Jewish! Cool!" So I came on here to vent a bit and just bounce my thoughts off people, try to relate or, heck, I don't know.

    If my sharing has hurt anyone or caused a damper to be laid down on anyone, a veil of bad feelings, I truly do apologize.

    People, yourself included, have been VERY kind to me in this thread. For that, I'm most grateful. I'm not sure where I'm headed or what I'll do. I'm just sick of this whole thing right now, but I'm hungry for God and anxious to quit feeling this way. But the minute I think of my parish, the whole dynamic, I just want to sign and hang my head. And the Greek parish is ultra drab, uninspiring, super quick and unengaging liturgy, and I'd still have to drive and be Mr. Mom.

    Please accept my apology if I've spread a negative vibe. I'm not trying to do so, just trying to discuss my own funk. You're a great Orthodox Christian. I wish I could be more like you.

    God's blessings in ICXC.

     
  20. Dylan Michael

    Dylan Michael Senior Veteran

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    I'm a happy orthodox Christian. :p

    I'm still praying, Gurney. :crossrc:
     
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