The still, small voice

Every Sunday, as I listen to Fr. Isaac’s sermon, my brain is noting things to blog about. But do you think I can remember them when it’s time to sit down at the computer? Absolutely not. I should jot them down, but it just doesn’t feel right.

We’re getting really, really close to Great Lent–my first as an Orthodox Christian. I am equally excited and nervous. It’s a big deal to us. Last year, everyone around me joked I was giving up Protestantism for Lent. In a real way, I guess that was true. The crunch of my conversion began this time last year, a period of great personal doubt, spiritual wrangling, and nagging convictions.

Anne Lamott wrote once that she never really felt pursued by Christ, but rather found Him winsome, gently persistant in His love for her. She likened Him to a stray cat waiting by the porch door. In some ways, I felt that way about Orthodoxy. It just waited for me to open up to all its love, beauty, and spiritual wealth. He does stand at the door and knock, you know.

I spent a good portion of the five years after I first became acquainted with Orthodoxy trying to talk myself out of the correctness of it. I kept looking at all those other churches, looking for the REAL one, and in my heart knowing where it was I belonged. And all that time, it seemed like the Lord was gently whispering in my ear, pointing in the direction of the Holy Orthodox Church, saying, “It’s over there. That’s it and you know it.”

Each time I tried a new church, I knew it wasn’t going to work. It was like really, really liking a pair of shoes, but they don’t fit quite right. You justify why you’ll wear them anyway. You spend too much money, buy them, and then they sit in your closet because they don’t fit. (I do that, too). And it seems like the more churches I tried, the more miserable I became and the more awkward the experience in that church.

I left the Vineyard after talk of a prophecy conference, and more talk of “God doing a new thing”, which made me worry they were going to start barking like dogs or rolling on the floor. It had happened before.

From there, I went to a small, non-denominational church that wonderfully, and wisely, incorporated a large amount of church history and practice into its worship. We recited creeds, knew who Arius was, and could kind of define the hypostatic union. This, I thought, is good enough. But it was not. It was a pretty flower without the pot. There was no context for all that we were learning. We had knowledge for knowledge’s sake. It didn’t draw me closer to God, it drew me closer to my brain. But, thankfully, through a number of circumstances related and unrelated to my quest, I left, and found myself still looking.

I knew where I needed to go. It made me very uncomfortable, because there was not a doubt in my mind that I would never, ever be a Protestant/Evangelical again.

I wish that I could say that I went completely willingly. I wish that I could say that I was obedient to that voice, that I didn’t worry more about what my friends or family would say than what I knew was the right thing. But I can’t. And while my journey to chrismation was shorter than some, for me it was an agonizing process.

But I guess it should be. There is nothing more serious than faith. It would have been so much easier if Orthodoxy came to me in the form of an altar call, if it pursued me, if it asked me to do something dramatic right now. But it didn’t. It haunted me. God kept asking me what I needed. He asked me what He wanted. He asked me what was right.

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Author: Rebecca

Orthodox Christian. Writer. SAR K9 handler-in training. All three of those are deeply related.

5 thoughts on “The still, small voice”

  1. Beautiful post Bec. I always say that people don’t usually change until they have to…it’s human nature. What’s so amazing is that God is so very loving, persistent, loyal, and patient with us in that process. And hats off to your desire to connect with ancient church tradition. It’s is a giant void in the Prot-evangie world. Sure, tradition is there, but it’s not as rich. Once again, there is a lot to be learned here…pls keep sharing.

  2. Bec, your blog is a joy. It’s often said that converts are far more zealous about the faith than so-called (and I dislike this term) “cradle Orthodox”. And yet Christ, and His Church are standing, waiting for each of us to open the door and draw closer to Him; whenever and whatever the circumstances. I can honestly say that each and every year, I look forward to the Lenten journey with more and more: anticipation; excitement; sorrow; trepidation; joy; and determination, among other things. Fr. Hopko’s book “Lenten Spring” is a must read about this time. Obviously trying to attend as many services during Lent, especially beginning with the Triodion period (where the stage is set, so to speak) is important. The pre-santified liturgies on Wednesday evenings are a must; the Small Compline and Akathist Hymn on Fridays are nice to attend if possible. Visit a monastery during Lent if you can. Watching the monastics “take it to the next level” during this journey to Pascha is truly inspiring. Worship in other Orthodox churches around the country, if you are fortunate enough to travel. It is wonderful to see our brothers and sisters everywhere engaged in this period of introspection and preparation. Keep the fast, but don’t lose sight of its purpose. Increase your daily prayer. When we look at the ecclesiatical year, but paricularly Lent, it becomes obvious how the centuries of accumulated wisdom find fulfillment in the effectiveness of Orthodox worship and praxis. And for me, being able to draw closer to God is more important than tradition for the sake of traditon. (It’s Tradition because it works, not the other way around!) May God bless and keep you during this holy season.

    And as we pass through the entry gates of this season, may we all chant from depths of our heart and soul: “Open unto me the gates of repentance, O Giver of Life…”

  3. Thanks for the beautiful response to my post. Last year, I was able to visit a monastery, and I look forward to another trip this April.

    Your posts (thanks to you, too, Paul) were a big encouragement.

    God bless!

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