“What I see around me would drive me insane if I did not know
that no matter what happens, God will have the last word.”
— Elder Paisios
A couple of days ago, as I was going through my tumblr looking for Orthodox quotes, I stumbled upon that quote. Usually, some quotes I just read and move on, but this one stuck with me. I kept thinking about it, and I realized I knew exactly what Elder Paisios was talking about. I am an eighteen-year-old Orthodox girl in a modern world–what else is there to say?
This past May, I graduated high school, and I am still wondering how in the world I survived it? Well, I did because God had the last word. But it wasn’t easy. I remember days when I would walk by my locker and see kids passing drugs to each other. I remember one particular day when a pastor from a Protestant church came in front of the school to pass out Bibles to the kids. Some kids took them, some didn’t. I did not since I have a few Orthodox copies. I walked past the pastor and went off to my bus. Everyone on the bus was talking about the fact that the pastor was there. There were some good comments and some bad comments, but one particular one brought me to tears. A young man, who sat behind me, was laughing at the words in the Bible, and he told his friend how he could not wait until he got home, so that he could burn the three copies of the Bible he took from the pastor. As I walked home from my bus stop, tears were streaming down my face. Partly, because those words in the Bible were sacred to me, and partly because the world has come to nothing. People have not only lost faith; they have lost respect for other people and their beliefs.
On another particular day, I was sitting with a couple of the kids who went to school with me. I had gotten into a dual credit program that allowed me to attend college early. There weren’t many high school kids there, so the few of us that were there hung out together. I sat at the table with two girls, who were both atheists, and another girl who was Catholic. All three girls knew very well that I was Orthodox and how much my faith meant to me; however, that did not stop them from talking about how horrible Christians are right in front of me. I stood up and left, for I am still too young and not knowledgeable enough to make a sound argument. I messaged my spiritual father and asked him if I had done the right thing. He told me that I had, and that if they asked me, which they did, why I left, that I should tell them they were stereotyping and offending me by judging my faith.
These are just a few examples. There are countless others, and I could fill a whole book with them. Basically, it gets really difficult to stay sane and to hold to one’s faith while living in this modern world. Everywhere I turn, things get worse and worse. Girls barely respect themselves, guys do not respect girls, friendships are hard to find and even harder to keep, elders are disrespected, people and humanity are disrespected, and things just keep getting worse.
But that is why I am Orthodox, that is why I believe in God, and that is why I am who I am. Things may be getting worse and worse, things may drive me insane everywhere I turn, but God is always there. He was with me at that table with the three girls, He was with me on that bus with the kid who wanted to burn the Bible, He is with me wherever I am. And not only is He with me, He has the final word. He walks me through those hard moments, He teaches me lessons through the lost friendships and the inhumane things I see every day. With His help I get through everything, and because of His help, as Elder Paisios said, I do not go insane. Instead, my faith grows stronger and stronger, and I learn more and more that God always has the last word!