Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Suddenly Orthodox

     First of all, Welcome!

     Growing up I started my religious upbringing in a lovely Disciple's of Christ church. I have a lot of fond memories of that period of my Christian journey; going to church almost every Sunday, dad and I at the Christmas Eve service, mom and I at the Easter Cantata, listening to the bell choir ect.

     Then we moved away and I became involved in AWANA which was not a bad experience. Sadly, even though I memorized vast amounts of scripture, I remember very little. :( After several years we moved again and I looked for another AWANA group.

     I ended up stumbling across a local baptist youth group and attended for the next six to seven years. While they were nice enough people, and eventhough the teaching appeared sound at the time, when I look back there was a judgmental/legalistic/spiritual abusive atmosphere that dominated my experience. The end result was that I became very weary in soul.

     During the tail end of that time I attended a small (3,000ish) "Christian" college. I met a handful of good people and had another handful of good memories. However... I walked onto campus intending to go into either women's or children's ministry and walked out a little more than a year later unsure if I even believed that God existed. In addition I had an um... let's say "unpleasant" two month dating experience that left me with PTSD.

     After those two experiences I wanted nothing to do with God, but then my Father started to Call me Home and I slowly started trusting Him again.

     After about 6 months I actively started to research denominations as I knew that I could no longer attend a baptist church. (Please note that I do not believe that all baptist churches are spiritually abusive, I just knew it would be a trigger for me.) I also knew I was being led towards a denomination that had a strong liturgical tradition/history. I settled on trying a local Episcopalian service, it happened to be Palm Sunday and they had a lovely service. There was/is a lot I liked about their church/faith, but instead of leaving filled I left emptier than when I arrived. I am an introvert and they wanted to know my entire.life.story.for.hours! In addition, while I liked their pastor alright, he was leaving in a month and I have seen too many pastors leave and the church's entire atmosphere change that I decided I would try it again once they had their new pastor.

     Before that could happen I read on the Ambleside Online forum about Eastern Orthodoxy. I had briefly heard of it before but in my cursory internet investigation I decided it was not for me. On the AO forum I learned a lot about Orthodoxy and it piqued my interest. Not long after that discussion I got in the mood to try to find a church again and so I decided, "Why not try Eastern Orthodoxy? If I don't like it I don't have to go again." And so I searched for my local Orthodox parish. I ended up attending for the first time on St. Nicholas day! (and also their patron saint) When I walked into the door the first time, with the incense, the icons, the worship, and last (but most certainly not least!) the definitive presence of the Holy Spirit and I knew... Suddenly, I was Orthodox! 

     I look forward eagerly to my first Pascha! I am still growing, learning, and healing, and I wish that I had been able to take a less painful journey to Orthodoxy, but nonetheless I am glad that I found Her! However, it will still be some time before I become a catechumen...