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Not a convert, just Orthodox.

lovesupreme

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It's late, and I have thoughts.

First off, I'm not upset at my fellow converts. I think it's great that they can relate to Orthodoxy in a unique way. We all should seek that personal connection to the Faith.

However, I truly do not want to continue framing my faith journey as a "convert."

By "convert," I mean it by the worldly definition. Someone who adopts a new belief system and all the accoutrements that go along with it, whether or not they are necessary or even healthy to a newcomer. I do not mean someone who struggles to turn his life over to Christ, which is something we all are, whether we were raised Orthodox or found it later.

In my various religious journeys, I have seen and fallen into the many pits that form when one sees himself as a "convert." Pride and self-justification. Uncharitably comparing a faith I barely know to faiths I know even less. Temptations to add more and more to my prayer rule or my icon wall. Telling people I am a Christian, with hints of triumphalism, instead of showing them in my actions.

I am tired of having to tell people why I "chose" Orthodoxy, as if it were choosing a new smart phone (I've had both conversations this week... oddly similar). I don't believe that God assigns to us different labels throughout our lives. Beneath our sins and temporary circumstances, we are the same essence as when God created us. In a certain respect (and I hope this doesn't sound too delusional), I have always been Orthodox, whether it was as an Orthodox Jew or as a life-long seeker.

I want to meet God as the person I have always been. I want to profess my faith naturally, without labels or qualifications that designate me as someone "special."

This week, in youth group, my co-teacher praised me for coming to church on my own accord, versus the students in the class who came because of their parents. I was very embarrassed. I tried explaining that I think that my parents aren't fundamentally different than their Orthodox parents. They don't practice any religion, but they are good people who raised me so that I could be where I am now. I don't think that my colleague wanted to embarass me, but I felt undeservedly elevated.

I work with my spiritual father to grow in Christ. We work with my unique circumstances. But that work is private and very intimate. In my every day interactions, I would prefer not to have to explain myself to people, or appear to them in some "special" way.

I have admired many of the cradle Orthodox posters here, and I want to be more like them. An internalized and unassuming faith. No need to justify yourself against those you disagree with. Sure, everyone has their baggage and personal issues. I don't think the grass is greener on the other side. But I do think that the grass grows slower and can withstand the winter. In times of drought, there's that... foundation that I just haven't felt when I identify as a convert. I'm always trying to establish myself. I'm never just... established. Not in the "okay, we're all set" sort of way. More in a foundational way. If that makes sense.

From now on, I don't want to come across as a convert. Not just in my interactions with others, but how I view myself. I want to be just Orthodox. I want to grow in the Faith. I want to read more Scriptures and study the Fathers (under my father's guidance). I want to get more involved in ministry. I want to do all the things converts want to do, but I don't want it in the way I've experienced it until now. That way is loaded with false expectations and vainglory.

Rant over.
 
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It sounds like you are doing fine and actually becoming established in a practical way to live your life by your faith.

BTW, I have been Orthodox for over 10 years but never bothered to change my name on OC.NET.
 

TheTrisagion

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People always feel the need to categorize other people. It is how we understand humanity. It may not be fair or desireable, but it is what humans do. Try not to let it get to you.
 

Alveus Lacuna

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You can tell when you're fully integrated and no longer a "convert": You don't want to go to church anymore.
 

katherineofdixie

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A GOA Bishop once corrected (gently) someone who referred to me as a "convert," (although they were not using the word in a derogatory way." He said that we are all converts - in the process of being converted into the likeness of Christ. At some point, or at multiple times, we make the decision to accept the Faith, and live that Faith ourselves. It's a gradual lifelong process of transformation.
 

WPM

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I have my church certificate from years ago, .. but not currently attending a specific parish. Still very much Orthodox 
 

genesisone

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Of an elderly couple at church, the wife, a "cradle" Orthodox, still refers to her husband who converted when they married in 1948 as a "convert". Then, OTOH, we have a 27 year old man, born into a nominally Orthodox family and baptized then, who fell away from the church. He more recently came back and views himself more as a "convert" than as "cradle". (He's probably right.)
 

podkarpatska

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Schultz said:
Alveus Lacuna said:
You can tell when you're fully integrated and no longer a "convert": You don't want to go to church anymore.
Or at least don't feel bad about showing up late. ;)
But you gotta make noise, wander up to the front candle stand, stare at it for a minute or two,  fumble in your pockets for change or whatever and light a candle or two, pause...think about it some more and light another one before trying to indiscreetly take your place in the congregation.   ;)

(I am kidding, that is NOT the norm, but we've all seen that person at least once or twice in our experiences! )
 

TheTrisagion

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Don't forget bring a $50 bill and try to make change in the candle money box.  :laugh:
 

Rhinosaur

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lovesupreme said:
In my various religious journeys, I have seen and fallen into the many pits that form when one sees himself as a "convert." Pride and self-justification. Uncharitably comparing a faith I barely know to faiths I know even less. Temptations to add more and more to my prayer rule or my icon wall. Telling people I am a Christian, with hints of triumphalism, instead of showing them in my actions.
This I seriously have to check myself for.
 

Maria

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katherineofdixie said:
A GOA Bishop once corrected (gently) someone who referred to me as a "convert," (although they were not using the word in a derogatory way." He said that we are all converts - in the process of being converted into the likeness of Christ. At some point, or at multiple times, we make the decision to accept the Faith, and live that Faith ourselves. It's a gradual lifelong process of transformation.
I have heard many priests echo this thought.

This process of transformation into Christ is called theosis.
 

Maria

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lovesupreme said:
It's late, and I have thoughts.

First off, I'm not upset at my fellow converts. I think it's great that they can relate to Orthodoxy in a unique way. We all should seek that personal connection to the Faith.

However, I truly do not want to continue framing my faith journey as a "convert."

By "convert," I mean it by the worldly definition. Someone who adopts a new belief system and all the accoutrements that go along with it, whether or not they are necessary or even healthy to a newcomer. I do not mean someone who struggles to turn his life over to Christ, which is something we all are, whether we were raised Orthodox or found it later.

In my various religious journeys, I have seen and fallen into the many pits that form when one sees himself as a "convert." Pride and self-justification. Uncharitably comparing a faith I barely know to faiths I know even less. Temptations to add more and more to my prayer rule or my icon wall. Telling people I am a Christian, with hints of triumphalism, instead of showing them in my actions.

I am tired of having to tell people why I "chose" Orthodoxy, as if it were choosing a new smart phone (I've had both conversations this week... oddly similar). I don't believe that God assigns to us different labels throughout our lives. Beneath our sins and temporary circumstances, we are the same essence as when God created us. In a certain respect (and I hope this doesn't sound too delusional), I have always been Orthodox, whether it was as an Orthodox Jew or as a life-long seeker.

I want to meet God as the person I have always been. I want to profess my faith naturally, without labels or qualifications that designate me as someone "special."

This week, in youth group, my co-teacher praised me for coming to church on my own accord, versus the students in the class who came because of their parents. I was very embarrassed. I tried explaining that I think that my parents aren't fundamentally different than their Orthodox parents. They don't practice any religion, but they are good people who raised me so that I could be where I am now. I don't think that my colleague wanted to embarass me, but I felt undeservedly elevated.

I work with my spiritual father to grow in Christ. We work with my unique circumstances. But that work is private and very intimate. In my every day interactions, I would prefer not to have to explain myself to people, or appear to them in some "special" way.

I have admired many of the cradle Orthodox posters here, and I want to be more like them. An internalized and unassuming faith. No need to justify yourself against those you disagree with. Sure, everyone has their baggage and personal issues. I don't think the grass is greener on the other side. But I do think that the grass grows slower and can withstand the winter. In times of drought, there's that... foundation that I just haven't felt when I identify as a convert. I'm always trying to establish myself. I'm never just... established. Not in the "okay, we're all set" sort of way. More in a foundational way. If that makes sense.

From now on, I don't want to come across as a convert. Not just in my interactions with others, but how I view myself. I want to be just Orthodox. I want to grow in the Faith. I want to read more Scriptures and study the Fathers (under my father's guidance). I want to get more involved in ministry. I want to do all the things converts want to do, but I don't want it in the way I've experienced it until now. That way is loaded with false expectations and vainglory.

Rant over.
Another POM Nominee!
 
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