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Mini crisis of faith :(

IsmiLiora

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Today, while I was at the Liturgy, I almost burst into tears. When everyone was reciting the Communion prayer, I was just wondering, "How long is it going to be before I get to participate?"

I know that things cannot happen right away, and I am just a few months into being a catechumen. But, and I know this is silly, the idea of finding a godparent for my chrismation and my marriage in the church has been putting so much stress in me. Although I have spoken with people in the church, I've hit a wall of sorts.

They've all known each other for years, and even though they greet me every week and I exchange a few sentences with some of them, nothing has gone further. I know that it will take some time for me and my husband to settle in to the church, but I have really extreme social anxiety issues, and part of me feels like that "fitting into" the church is the last obstacle to becoming Orthodox, and I feel like it will never happen. Even though I know it's irrational, I feel some resentment about that. I don't have my own car and I work 7 days a week, so I cannot go and drop in and help out the priest and the other women with cleaning, setting up, and their other activities. Sometimes I feel like I'll never be a part of the community.

I've thought about talking to my priest about this, but I am very ashamed to bring up my social anxiety. People who know me in person really don't believe that I have it, but I seriously almost hyperventilate when thinking about going to Coffee Hour after the Divine Liturgy. I think my priest would even be shocked if I shared that with him. Part of my hesitance in speaking to him is that I don't want to put the burden of trying to integrate me into the community on his shoulders.

Also, I felt a twinge of jealousy when people who I had never seen in all my months of attending the church, going up for communion. I know that it was very wrong to judge them, and I kept saying "Lord have mercy" in my mind until the thoughts died down.

I just guess that I feel like I'll always be an outsider, that I'll never be allowed in. The only somewhat comfort I have is that if I died tomorrow, I would probably receive a Orthodox burial. I want to be a part of the church so much, and I hope to move on from this.

Please pray for me.
 

Maria

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Lord have mercy.

Focus on our Lord during Holy Communion.
Christ is in our very midst in a special way during the Divine Liturgy.
He will answer your prayers.

Know that I will pray for you.
 

arnI

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One thing that seems to work is to participate in parish activities as much as you can so that you see others and they see you. During Lent, we have the opportunity to attend many services where the numbers attending are lower than Sundays, so the services are more intimate. If your parish has events outside of Sunday such as dinners, picnics, or community social programs, try to participate. Also, there are a number of weekday Liturgies through the year. The process of getting acquainted with others in your parish is perhaps as long as your catechumen phase. As far as watching others during Liturgy, I try to sit close where my focus is on the Liturgy, and not others around me. While others are taking Communion, I  read or recite prayers. I printed out a few prayers which I taped in my service book that I bring to each Liturgy. If distracted, I focus on the Theotokos. Just attempt to take it slow, and participate throughout the year to the extent that your job allows.  But of course, talk to your Priest.
 

FatherHLL

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Don't be hesitant to approach your priest.    The priest wears the stole around his neck for several reasons.  One of them is to remind him that the souls of the flock entrusted to him are placed upon him as an entrustment which He willingly took on his ordination.  Fortunately, the Lord's yoke is not burdensome, especially if the priest looks to the Lord (and prays to the Lord) for empowerment to get it accomplished.  I would suggest immediately contacting him, telling him your concerns and that you were hesitant to lay this burden upon him, but that you need his help.  I would also suggest that you, as soon as possible, pray to God to give you the courage to take this step.  You will be surprised how things can fall into place.  The Lord doesn't want you wandering alone.  You are already as a catechumen are the warming wool hanging around the priest's neck.  Let him help you bear your burdens.  It is good for his soul, and for yours. 
 

Achronos

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Lord have mercy!

I used to be very frustrated at the Orthodox who used to go in just for communion and leave. But that was an issue I had to deal with a long time ago. The patience bit is hard, but it's better to be properly catechized.

On the social aspect, my same problem too. I'm just not in the same age group as the rest. It's tough to overcome and I still get nervous around my priest.
 

Cognomen

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Lord, have mercy.

May you be granted the strength to endure your trial.  You're not alone in struggling with your concerns, e.g. judging those receiving communion.

Also, no offense to Greeks, but they can be a hard lot.
 

orthonorm

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Lord have mercy!

Might be hard to dive in, but you can do it. I found participating in smaller parish activities (labor) helped me to make connections.

 

orthonorm

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FatherHLL said:
Don't be hesitant to approach your priest.    The priest wears the stole around his neck for several reasons.  One of them is to remind him that the souls of the flock entrusted to him are placed upon him as an entrustment which He willingly took on his ordination.  Fortunately, the Lord's yoke is not burdensome, especially if the priest looks to the Lord (and prays to the Lord) for empowerment to get it accomplished.   I would suggest immediately contacting him, telling him your concerns and that you were hesitant to lay this burden upon him, but that you need his help.   I would also suggest that you, as soon as possible, pray to God to give you the courage to take this step.  You will be surprised how things can fall into place.   The Lord doesn't want you wandering alone.   You are already as a catechumen are the warming wool hanging around the priest's neck.   Let him help you bear your burdens.   It is good for his soul, and for yours. 
Father,

A lovely post. I had to get over some of my vanities (still am) to bring up stuff with my Priest I thought were "a waste of his time". He has always been helpful, understanding, and supportive.
 

mabsoota

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hi, i also think you should take father hill's advice.
remember that the demons do not want us to get close to God, so will try to magnify any problems we have and make them excessive. don't take them too seriously, pray 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner', and ignore their taunts as you would ignore the fury of a 2 year old stamping his feet.

i remember reading that you are busy at work.
would it be possible to start working less hours?
it may mean you have to accept a low salary and not get promotion, but i think it would be good for your soul.
i also work too many hours, but am coming to the end of one contract and i plan to make sure my next contract is less hours and less pay. it means people will respect me less, but that will be good for me as i am often tempted to be proud.

i also have some problems socially, again, most people would never guess (feel free to discuss privately if you wish).
but sometimes i have to be honest about my problems, eg. 'i really don't think i should be the one to talk to him, i'll say something inappropriate, did you consider asking that other person to do it?'
i know it's good sometimes to try to hide your problems, because people might freak out and not know what to do. but sometimes you need to be honest with people. it is scary, but being a little bit more open will stop you being tempted to be proud, and also shows the other person that you are asking them for help.

Christian family life isn't just about helping people, it's about asking for help, too, so that the other people can receive a blessing from God for helping you.

also, i remember the waiting period, i was tempted to jealousy of the people who were more fully involved.
it is important to resist this temptation and to pray for them instead.
God has wonderful plans for all of us, and none of us should wish to walk another person's path. their trials may be too difficult for us, just as ours may be too difficult for them.
God knows what He is doing as He passes out the blessings and the trials, so that we can all grow towards perfection and eventual unity with Him.

may God guide you dear sis :)
 

IsmiLiora

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I just wanted to thank everyone for their prayers and advice. It's heartwarming to know that I am in touch with an Orthodox community, even if it's not the one at my church right now. I will be meeting with my priest this week, and I will bring up the issue with him. How I will do that, I'm not sure yet. But I'm still praying...
 

Anastasia1

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IsmiLiora said:
I just wanted to thank everyone for their prayers and advice. It's heartwarming to know that I am in touch with an Orthodox community, even if it's not the one at my church right now. I will be meeting with my priest this week, and I will bring up the issue with him. How I will do that, I'm not sure yet. But I'm still praying...
We are praying with you. I am glad you are going to talk to your priest. I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 4 where it talks about the value of two together. We are all better off helping and being helped than we are on our own.

Lord have mercy...
 

trevor72694

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IsmiLiora said:
I just wanted to thank everyone for their prayers and advice. It's heartwarming to know that I am in touch with an Orthodox community, even if it's not the one at my church right now. I will be meeting with my priest this week, and I will bring up the issue with him. How I will do that, I'm not sure yet. But I'm still praying...
and we'll be praying for you!  :)
 

FatherHLL

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IsmiLiora said:
I just wanted to thank everyone for their prayers and advice. It's heartwarming to know that I am in touch with an Orthodox community, even if it's not the one at my church right now. I will be meeting with my priest this week, and I will bring up the issue with him. How I will do that, I'm not sure yet. But I'm still praying...
Just keep it simple.  The dialogue will develop but approach it giving the priest in simple terms what you are requestion:

1.  I would like some help in getting a sponsor
2.  I sometimes feel like I don't totally belong, and and worried about whether that will always be the case. 

The priest will take it from there.  In the dialogue, anything else that you have to say will be brought out.  But keep it simple:  the two main problems in basic terms first, and the rest will follow.  Also, give him both problems at the same time.  Both will be revisited in the conversation and be dealt with in order, but let him know on the front side what they are so that you don't forget or get side-tracked on discussing the first point.  Often what happens is that we go into a conversation and are so happy that the first point is dealt with that we forget to bring up the second (third, fourth, etc.).  Get it all out at once, briefly, and expand later. 
 

mabsoota

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thanks, father hill, bless  :)
it's great to read a 'how to ask a priest for advice' tip from a priest, we like to make things ore straightforward for you guys.
ismiliora,
i thank God that He has blessed your church with you.
i think He loves them very much
:)
 

love4christu

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Please don't worry. Just with prayer and petition and thanksgiving, make the first step an don't worry, walk closer to Christ and do not let the enemy show you bad thoughts.

Most Holy Theotokos and
Lord Jesus Christ have mercy!
In the name of Father Son and Holy Sprit
Amen...
 
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