What Orthodoxy Hasn’t Done for Me
Converts to Eastern Orthodoxy enter the Church for a variety of reasons. Many enter with a wild degree of excitement at having found something of great value. Some are accused, perhaps rightly, of being too zealous in that excitement.
I was probably in that latter category. As I write this, I am a few weeks from completing twelve years as an Orthodox Christian. That’s somewhere between a quarter and a third of my life. And I can honestly say that I am farther from spiritual and moral perfection than I was on the day of my chrismation. I’m not proud of this. Actually, if there’s one good thing I can pour into this post, it’s that there’s no sin of pride in it anywhere. (Excepting perhaps that I’m proud of that.)
So what happened? Probably zealous expectations that had little to do with the quiet, constant whittling of the self to make room for God that Orthodoxy offers.
I expected that Orthodoxy would immediately begin making me holier. Actually, it did do that. It’s hard to avoid becoming holy with the regular application of sacraments. But…
I expected that Orthodoxy would automatically destroy every stronghold of sin in my life. Not so much. Turns out I needed to contribute to wanting to do that, too.
I expected that I would improve increasingly and the propensity for sin would ever taper off until it was gone. Actually, I’ve discovered some amazing new ways to sin in the past twelve years, ways that I never would have dreamed I’d be willing to corrupt myself and my character before I was Orthodox. Oh, joy.
I expected I’d never miss an opportunity to worship or pray or confess. You can ask me again in a couple weeks, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be attending a couple services over the course of Holy Week. If I can make it. And over twelve years, I don’t know for sure how many times I’ve gone to Confession, but I bet I could count them on both hands.
I expected that Orthodoxy would magically transform my marriage into perfection now that we were on the same spiritual page. Nope, turns out that I still had the same personality flaws and we still needed to spend just as much time and effort making it work as we did before.
There is a moment in the Liturgy where we are reminded that Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first.
Orthodoxy did get me to that point. I suppose that’s a good start.
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