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How to avoid converting as a teenager and burning out in a year

quietmorning

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Αριστοκλής said:
Andrew21091 said:
William said:
This thread isn't meant to mock anyone. I legitimately feel as though I need to know how to avoid this.

As a reminder I'm an "inquirer" (have been for about 3 years) but I'm being pushed by my parents to make the leap (my Catholic mom is concerned I have gone so long without sacraments). I'm 17. I don't know if I should convert now or wait a long time to be sure. Of course I'll mention all of my concerns to my priest but I'd like the forum's feedback as well.
I'm returning to the forum one time only to reply to this thread. I officially distanced myself from "internet Orthodoxy" months ago.

I understand where you are coming from. I converted to Orthodoxy at ten years old with my mother but didn't really get into it until I was about 15 or 16 years old. When I did get into it, I was very zealous. I read Fr. Seraphim Rose, read books on monasticism and asceticism, defended the Old Calendar, condemned ecumenism, and prayed like an Old Believer. I visited monasteries and considered being a monk for a while also. However, shortly before I officially left this forum, my faith fell apart and I almost "jumped ship". I was extremely close to leaving the Orthodox Church. I was so hardcore about Orthodoxy before that I missed the most important thing a person needs in their spiritual life. Faith. Faith is the only reason you should convert to Orthodoxy. Its easy at first to run off and "play monk" but when the doubt and the spiritual dry spells hit, you end up having nothing if you don't have real faith in God. My faith wasn't in God. It was in some strange caricature of Orthodoxy where the beards were long and the prostrations, many. I cannot tell you how angry I would get about the pews at my parish, kneeling on Sundays, or whatever else the "super correct" crowd like to complain about. I was only angry because I had some delusion of what Orthodoxy should look like. What was unfortunate is that I put my faith and attention in that, rather than in Christ.

Don't over intellectualize your faith, because you will only turn it into an idol that is hollow on the inside and crumbles easily. Ask yourself why you want to be Orthodox. If you only want to be Orthodox because you like the smell of the incense or how cool monks look or whatever, then you probably shouldn't convert. However, if you want to convert because you truly believe that the Orthodox Church is the best place where you can work out your own salvation, then do it if you feel that God is calling you to it. Salvation is the whole point of the Church; that is its purpose.

The main goals of our lives should be loving God and loving others. If anything prevents us from doing these two things, then we should run away from it because they aren't from God. Don't just convert your mind, but convert your heart. In everything you do, strive to love Christ and to love others. Make sure you focus on trying to remove the beam in your own eye, rather then trying to get the speck out of your brother's eye.

I pray that God will bless you.
Post of the Month nomination.
second.
 

Orthodox11

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Andrew21091 said:
I'm returning to the forum one time only to reply to this thread. I officially distanced myself from "internet Orthodoxy" months ago.

I understand where you are coming from. I converted to Orthodoxy at ten years old with my mother but didn't really get into it until I was about 15 or 16 years old. When I did get into it, I was very zealous. I read Fr. Seraphim Rose, read books on monasticism and asceticism, defended the Old Calendar, condemned ecumenism, and prayed like an Old Believer. I visited monasteries and considered being a monk for a while also. However, shortly before I officially left this forum, my faith fell apart and I almost "jumped ship". I was extremely close to leaving the Orthodox Church. I was so hardcore about Orthodoxy before that I missed the most important thing a person needs in their spiritual life. Faith. Faith is the only reason you should convert to Orthodoxy. Its easy at first to run off and "play monk" but when the doubt and the spiritual dry spells hit, you end up having nothing if you don't have real faith in God. My faith wasn't in God. It was in some strange caricature of Orthodoxy where the beards were long and the prostrations, many. I cannot tell you how angry I would get about the pews at my parish, kneeling on Sundays, or whatever else the "super correct" crowd like to complain about. I was only angry because I had some delusion of what Orthodoxy should look like. What was unfortunate is that I put my faith and attention in that, rather than in Christ.

Don't over intellectualize your faith, because you will only turn it into an idol that is hollow on the inside and crumbles easily. Ask yourself why you want to be Orthodox. If you only want to be Orthodox because you like the smell of the incense or how cool monks look or whatever, then you probably shouldn't convert. However, if you want to convert because you truly believe that the Orthodox Church is the best place where you can work out your own salvation, then do it if you feel that God is calling you to it. Salvation is the whole point of the Church; that is its purpose.

The main goals of our lives should be loving God and loving others. If anything prevents us from doing these two things, then we should run away from it because they aren't from God. Don't just convert your mind, but convert your heart. In everything you do, strive to love Christ and to love others. Make sure you focus on trying to remove the beam in your own eye, rather then trying to get the speck out of your brother's eye.

I pray that God will bless you.
Perfectly put.
 

vamrat

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William said:
This thread isn't meant to mock anyone. I legitimately feel as though I need to know how to avoid this.

As a reminder I'm an "inquirer" (have been for about 3 years) but I'm being pushed by my parents to make the leap (my Catholic mom is concerned I have gone so long without sacraments). I'm 17. I don't know if I should convert now or wait a long time to be sure. Of course I'll mention all of my concerns to my priest but I'd like the forum's feedback as well.
If you are asking questions like this you have a good deal of maturity about it.  I think that's half your battle won as it is.

I don't have a whole lot to add right now but I took one look at the title and thought that this is probably one of the most useful threads ever posted on this forum.  Thanks.
 

trevor72694

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I also feel like I should suggest that you check out my post history.  I was 15 when I converted, and when I started posting.  Try to avoid being like I was, as expressed in my posts, and you should be okay.
 

Hinterlander

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I don't know enough about where your at currently to suggest converting (i'm not even orthodox either) but here is what I wished I had done when I was your age.

1. Practice the basics: reading the bible, following a prayer rule, avoid indulging in food, entertainment, internet, etc . . .
2. Attend worship and get involved with people, form intergenerational relationships if possible
3. Serve others in your daily life (in school, work, home) and find more outlets to do so (volunteering, etc).
4. Understand it's a long haul and that you've probably not exhausted all the frustrations and challenges of adolescence.



 

Quinault

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1) Accept that the majority of the time there isn't a clear "answer" on things

2) Accept that it is normal to waiver in your faith. Christianity and faith don't mean that you "feel" it 100% of the time. Belief doesn't mean that you necessarily "feel" it all the time. Faith is moving in one direction. Sometimes we stop along the way. Sometimes we even turn back for a spell. That doesn't mean that we don't believe. The beauty of orthodoxy is that we view faith as a journey. We aren't "saved" in one moment. We are being saved daily in our journey. You can fall down a few rungs of the ladder. You can even jump off for awhile. But the option is always there to keep climbing back up. Theosis is a process. That doesn't mean that we don't revert for awhile.

Faith isn't the absence of doubt. Faith is choosing to believe in the presence of doubt.
 

Quinault

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Oh! One more thing:

Be aware that the fasts need to be eased into. And if you have issues emotionally/physically it sometimes isn't a good idea to fast. My husband has Degenerative Disc Disease and PTSD. We have found that for his emotional and psychological well being he can't strictly observe the fasts. When you force yourself into a strict fast too quickly the ramifications are enormous on your wellbeing overall. If you have issues with depression, fast with caution. Watch yourself for emotional swings that might be related to fasting.

Fasting is more that abstaining from certain foods. It isn't safe/healthy to knuckle thru and be dishonest. Speak to your godparents and spiritual father honestly about fasting if you find it is effecting you adversely.
 

biro

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I thought I was the only one who had the fasting and depression problem. It does aggravate my condition. Next time I have a chance to speak to the priest about it, I will.
 

JamesR

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Avoid intelligent thought and logically examining religion like you would examine everything else no matter how angry it makes people. Don't stand up for what your reasoning convicts you is right. I use reasoning and people think I am evil because it violates their religious social norms.
 

Quinault

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JamesR said:
Avoid intelligent thought and logically examining religion like you would examine everything else no matter how angry it makes people. Don't stand up for what your reasoning convicts you is right. I use reasoning and people think I am evil because it violates their religious social norms.
You know, at least GiC is amusing....Angry self pity is just obnoxious. So you have decided that you are angry with God. Go on a nice agnostic/atheist board and "have a nice day....somewhere else." (Hams Beer anyone in the NW?)
 

Quinault

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JamesR said:
Shanghaiski said:
James,

See if you can do this three times to make a statement. Go to church, stand before the icon of Christ on the cross, point your finger at him and say with all the indignation you can muster, "You died for me and I don't give a damn!"
While I do feel that way, I do not think I could do it because I am afraid Christ would punish me. I cannot even keep eye contact with the Icon of Christ because whenever I look into His eyes I feel like He is angry with me. When I look into the eyes of the Icon of the Theotokos I feel like she feels sympathy for me, and when I look into the eyes of John the Baptist I feel like he is saying 'you know what you must do, why not do it?' but deep down I do not know what I am supposed to do. I honestly do not care that Christ died because I feel that it has not made any difference in my life at all. But blatantly pointing to His Icon and rudely condemning Him is something I am afraid to do. Satan may have been brave enough (or foolish enough) to risk punishment by opposing God in crazy ways, but I am not. I still recognize that He can punish me at any point.
JamesR said:
Forget it, I will just admit it. I cannot accept that challenge because deep down I still love and appreciate Him even when I do not understand Him and feel like I hate Him.
 

Kerdy

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JamesR said:
Avoid intelligent thought and logically examining religion like you would examine everything else no matter how angry it makes people. Don't stand up for what your reasoning convicts you is right. I use reasoning and people think I am evil because it violates their religious social norms.
When I was your age *cough* years ago, I thought I was smarter than everyone and had all the answer too.  The older I became the more I realized just how stupid I am and looking back to then am completely embarrassed about how totally ignorant I was about almost everything.  In time, you too will become wiser and realize how little you currently understand.  Just don't take as long as I did.
 

Nicene

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I find myself, just being a new convert, that having a firm and reasonable basis for the faith helps. That no matter my emotional state, there are the facts that Christ rose from the dead and I try from this to conform myself to Christ.
 

NicholasMyra

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Here's the ultimate solution for teenage burnout, offered by Conciliar Press:

http://www.conciliarpress.com/products/Special-Agents-of-Christ:-A-Prayer-Book-for-Young-Orthodox-Saints.html
 

Alpo

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NicholasMyra said:
Here's the ultimate solution for teenage burnout, offered by Conciliar Press:

http://www.conciliarpress.com/products/Special-Agents-of-Christ:-A-Prayer-Book-for-Young-Orthodox-Saints.html
Here's the ultimate solution to protestantize Orthodoxy. Contemporary liturgies coming soon to your closest parish.
 

Rufus

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Alpo said:
NicholasMyra said:
Here's the ultimate solution for teenage burnout, offered by Conciliar Press:

http://www.conciliarpress.com/products/Special-Agents-of-Christ:-A-Prayer-Book-for-Young-Orthodox-Saints.html
Here's the ultimate solution to protestantize Orthodoxy. Contemporary liturgies coming soon to your closest parish.
I just hate it when people try to appeal to youth by pretending to be hip. I hated it all through childhood and until now. It is condescending.

Maybe some people like it, but I have yet to see it work on Orthodox.
 

LBK

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Rufus said:
I just hate it when people try to appeal to youth by pretending to be hip. I hated it all through childhood and until now. It is condescending.

Maybe some people like it, but I have yet to see it work on Orthodox.
This.
 

JamesR

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The funny thing is, I have never been hip either and have found myself more comfortable around older people opposed to people my own age.
 

orthonorm

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biro said:
I thought I was the only one who had the fasting and depression problem. It does aggravate my condition. Next time I have a chance to speak to the priest about it, I will.
Vitamin D & Cholesterol.

Some people need both to feel well, especially some given over to depression.

You are not the only one.
 

dzheremi

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Haha. Yes, I suppose that comment looks funny now that JamesR appears to have repented of the kinds of thoughts that he was posting in this thread that inspired me to post that bit of advice, though I think it still generally works... ;D I've nothing against teenagers as people (I was one myself not so terribly long ago), though the experience needed to guide a new convert is probably more often found in people who have decades of their life (or all of it) in the Church. I suppose I do not have a specific "spiritual father", for instance, as everyone in our little Coptic community has helped me in some way, but the man who I am closest to in the Church is about twice my age, so sometimes I will call him for guidance, as it is not always possible to get in touch with one of our priests, and really not every single question requires the priest's time. If he were 17, I would probably want to run his answers or opinions by someone with more age and experience, anyway, so yes...still stay away from the advice of other teenagers. Consider this: If they had the wisdom they're often convinced they have, this thread wouldn't be called "How to avoid converting as a teenager and burning out in a year". ;)
 

Cyrillic

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dzheremi said:
still stay away from the advice of other teenagers. Consider this: If they had the wisdom they're often convinced they have, this thread wouldn't be called "How to avoid converting as a teenager and burning out in a year". ;)
Hehe you're quite right (as always).
 

ialmisry

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Thomas said:
One of the reasons that we have a convert Issues Forum is that many people are asking the same questions and because they are new we want to give them simple and consistent answers from Holy Orthodox. Many converts forget that we need to first be like children and  take our milk first and the meat later. Most who "burn out do so by trying to know it all before they learn and practice the simple Orthodoxy of the child. My spiritual father reminded me that although I was was 38 years old when I was converted, in Orthodoxy I was the baby and I needed to learn as a child. My recommendation is enjoy your childhood in Christ and learn the practice of daily orthodoxy before you start looking for the deeper controversies of theologians.

THOMAS
Sadly, very true, and proved over and over.
 
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