Looking for peace

UPDATE: ABWE submits to a full investigation by G.R.A.C.E. Glory to God!

Here I sit, again. The music of Holy Week playing on my iPod and the DVR on pause as I unload my head.

My boyfriend told me the other night that not everything has to be a fight. (For the record, he and I were NOT having a fight. He was commenting on my general passionate/combative nature. He’s so far one of the only living creatures I don’t argue with. Go figure.)  I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I wasn’t fighting, though. Sometimes I think there’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes I know there is.

I always fight. I fought with my father as a child, and I fought for my family against him on occasion. I detest bullies and have a finely tuned radar to detect them. I fought with pastors who wanted to tell me I didn’t love God enough because I couldn’t seem to “submit,” to just pray it away.

I fought with my faith on more than one occasion, trying to find a way out of it, around it, or away from it. I settled on finding a way through it and fought my way to Orthodoxy.

I’m mostly tired though.  At least tonight, for no good reason, other than old ghosts wander in, wanting me to pick up that sword again and have a go. In some of these battles, I am alone, or feel like it. How heavy are these things we carry around. How high a wall we build between our souls and our God, between our hearts and those who come to help. How sturdy a barrier between us and the ones who wronged us.

Orthodoxy, true faith, tells me that I am to do things differently. I am to win by losing. I am to live by dying. I am to seek peace in the face of conflict. I am to pray for those who hurt me. I am to seek the restoration of those whose failings caused me pain. But it’s a hard road to walk, that one. We’re here, in this place, laid desolate and ruined by the FALL and the things we have done. And we want to make it right for ourselves. We can’t. We just can’t. And it is so hard to wait for Him Who Is to put it back the way it belongs. But we have to wait because we don’t know what it looked like BEFORE. We don’t have the picture to the puzzle. We don’t know how the pieces fit. We don’t know the why. We just know the what: the pain, the grief, the loss, the death and destruction of what we have become.

I believe in my heart it is always right to fight for another. I will continue to fight for those who need someone to go to war on their behalf. (I mean if you have a skill…) I know, though, I need to fight a whole lot less for myself.

Here’s a last thought, from an American saint. I discovered it today and it makes me cry:

One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.
Nikolai of Zicha.

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Muttering on the way to work

I always hint a bit about my work…mostly the ways it wears on me and leaves things sticking to me like burrs. In recent weeks, I lost another priest to parish conflict (bleh) but was re-acquainted with a priest I knew from my days at St. John’s. He’s a former police officer and bomb squad member so he’s kinda been there, done that.

During confession, yet one more time, I talked about my struggles with anger and just generally being a crappy person and Fr. George offered up the best advice–praying the Jesus Prayer on the way to work.

So for the past few weeks I’ve shut off my NPR and my CD’s and been saying, out loud, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

I cannot adequately describe what a difference it has made, just on my mindset. And that’s what Orthodoxy is about–changing me. Making me like Jesus. And if you want to get your mind off what everyone else is doing, put it on what you yourself need, everyday: Salvation, mercy, grace. Praying the prayer that has been prayed by others in the exact same mindset, struggling with the exact same things allows me to not worry about my words, or coming up with something nice to say to God, but instead to focus on what needs to be done. The prayer recognizes the position of Christ, the saving work of Christ and my constant need to submit myself to Him and what He wants for me.

So for the foreseeable future I won’t be catching up with the BBC. I’ll be throwing myself at the feet of my Savior, keeping things in proper perspective.

Submission(s)

So at the request of a dear friend, who points out my laziness with his enthusiasm, I am blogging. But it’s the Theophany anyway, and I always seem to blog at Theophany (if you don’t believe me, check it out…it’s true)

We (my family, now a gang of nine not counting dogs–if you count dogs, well, let’s not count dogs) celebrated Christmas on New Year’s, which is not a bad way to welcome in the next round of 12 months. And is our way, we can’t get together around the 150-year-old dining room table without a theological debate (sorry, Grandma). I do think it was Bob that started it this year.

Tagging up on so many big issues–Calvinism, the Apocrypha, free will–my brain got stuck on two things: Salvation and Submission. I’ll get to Salvation later (maybe next time I blog, next Theophany. Just kidding.)

For now: Submission.

It’s not an easy word, not to hear, not to say in relationship to your responsibility and most certainly not to act on.

And anyone that knows me even the teensiest bit knows that it is not a trait I possess. I am stiff-necked, willful and will usually go too far if left unattended even though I know better. But in this, in leaving Protestantism for Orthodoxy, that’s what it is for me. That’s what it came down to. Submission.

People have said to me, about their own behavior, their own choices and their own will, that they don’t submit to the Church, they can’t. They submit to God and what He wants for them. They don’t want to, or can’t, allow anything in between to dictate their actions, maybe out of a misunderstanding that the Church is actually between like a roof, instead of between like a stem connecting a flower to a root. But whatever, I understand that hesitancy, that reluctance.

But God, whom I submit to (albeit awkwardly), told me to submit myself to His Church. So that means that I cannot submit myself to Him and not accept that which He has for me, anymore than a infantryman can say to his captain “yes, sir” and then completely ignore the directives of his sergeant whom the captain has placed over him.

My Chrismation vows, which I take seriously (because words matter, symbol matters–they connect us to reality), I confessed my belief in the teachings of that Church. I said “yes, sir.” I chose to submit.

I hadn’t realized how foreign that concept was to me, and to those who are outside the Orthodox Church, until I thought about it later. I believe these things I didn’t used to believe in–a Sacramental view of Holy Communion, baptism as a saving action, the role of Tradition in making me more like Christ. And I know this for sure: I didn’t believe them as much when I read that Creed at the back of the Church during my Chrismation as I do know. But I trusted that if I jumped into it, I’d learn to swim or at least not drown in it. Or going back to my original analogy, I trusted that my Captain had put someone in charge of me who could handle me and get me from point A to point B safely and victoriously. Thanks be to God, so much more of that belief has come. The more I surrender to the Truth of His Church, the more it protects me and guides me. The more I willingly take what it offers me, the closer I get to Him.

It’s nice how that works out.