...are the ones that make the biggest difference

5.22.2006

Holding pattern

Needless to say, things on the road to Orthodoxy have gotten a bit bumpy and the wife and I have decided to take a bit of a detour at present. From our many long conversations, which frequently turned into arguments (or at the very least hurt feelings on one side or another), it became clear to me that she isn't ready and I really don't know that she ever will be. Right now, its just too big a departure from the theology she has known and embraced her entire life and probably the best thing I can do in loving her is to yield to her discomfort, anxiety and resistance. So I have and we've decided to start looking somewhere else for a church home.

For me, this is a bittersweet moment. I am sad that Orthodoxy did not draw us in as I had hoped, but at the same time I feel a sense of relief that the tensions between us and the heartache this has caused is over. The joy that relieving this burden brought about in my wife (not Orthodoxy itself, but the burden of the disagreement we had over it) was sign enough that I'm making the right decision. But I also think some of that relief stems from my own trepidations about Orthodoxy. There were really only a couple of significant issues, but they kept on intruding. I was ready to move forward but scared of the possibility for error. I am worried about finding a church we can both feel comfortable with. We went to a Lutheran church on Sunday morning that seemed pretty good to both of us, so I think we should be able to find something. I'll have to do some more reading & studying on what's out there in liturgical and sacramental Protestantism.

I'm not sure how I'll reconcile the new perceptions and ideas that Orthodoxy has introduced. I doubt I'll ever be able to subscribe to sola scriptura if this road doesn't eventually take us back to the East. Similarly, I've found the more wholistic approach Orthodoxy takes to theology far more compelling than the legalistic language of Western theology. I mean, did Christ become Incarnate in order to die to open the door to humanity to participate in God's life or to simply move our names from one column to another on some heavenly scoreboard? I think the depth and beauty of that kind of thinking will be hard to find, though I can obviously "feed" myself with Orthodox writers. And, of course, the idea of the church being the Church will never be a possibility in Protestantism. While I maintain some hope that we will eventually end this detour, I don't want to hold on to that hope too tightly. I, of course, don't want to be disappointed if it never comes to fruition, but I also don't want to let it hold me back from trying to find a good church home, a place where we can get involved and feel like a part of something.

Thus far, this blog has largely been about my journey towards Orthodoxy. It first started as I struggled with my role as a youth pastor in a church that left a great deal to be desired and then, as that position ended, transitioning to being a student again, both in school and in the Orthodox church. I'm not sure where it will head from here but I plan on maintaining it. I have appreciated your prayers and words of encouragement and hope you will continue to keep the wife and I in your thoughts & prayers in the weeks and months ahead.

5 comments:

Benedict Seraphim said...

Nathan:

You most definitely continue to have my prayers, you and your wife.

I started thinking about Orthodoxy six years ago, though at first I sort of circled around it, going in and out of traditional Anglicanism. When I got serious about Orthodoxy in June of 2002, my wife gave me an ultimatum: our marriage or Orthodoxy. After a couple of weeks of not talking about Orthodoxy or me going to Divine Liturgy, I finally helped her to see that that was not a valid set of options.

We eventually settled on a compromise: we would find a church home we could both go to, and I would go to All Saints (the Orthodox parish) as often as I could. That worked for us for a few months--until Anna saw the huge problems in the church home we'd chosen.

Eventually I continued to go to All Saints every few weeks, and she would stay home. It wasn't until six weeks after the birth of our first daughter that Anna finally, on her own, decided out of the blue to go to services with me. We've been going ever since, almost two and a half years.

She's not yet ready to become Orthodox, though, we both were headed toward the catechumenate until our recent set of difficulties (jobs and housing).

All that is to simply say: this present compromise is likely not a destination for you as a couple. But I think it is a good thing (if my opinion is worth anything). It sounds as though things were getting rather tense, and this will be a good neutral ground for you both.

You clearly still are enamored of Orthodoxy, and this will be a test of that for you. And it will be a test that your wife I suspect will be watching closely to see what is your level of commitment to Orthodoxy.

That said, it's probably good to back off overt engagement over this matter, and for you to go deep within in prayer and self-searching. I'm not saying to not communicate with your wife what you are thinking and feeling, but maybe for a time leave such revelations alone till there has been time for the tensions to drain.

I applaud your willingness to love your wife in the way that you have. The Lord will bless that in ways that only he knows and that you both need.

I look forward to more of your explorations, whether in a Lutheran parish or what have you, as well as further thoughts on Orthodoxy as they come.

The Scrivener said...

Nathan,

One can only respect your decision in this case. I'm sure that God will continue to bless you in the manner He sees fit. You still have my prayers, as I hope I have yours. I'm glad you plan to keep the blog going, as I want to see how the next chapter in your journey unfolds.

Russell Smith said...

Nathan,
You don't know me, but I've been subscribing to your blog for quite some time (I found you through a comment you made -- I believe on Pomomusings).

I respect your struggle to find a biblically grounded and holistic worldview that offers more than the stereotypical "get out of hell free card" of evangelicalism.

As a Calvinist of the Old School, I've found myself challenged by your wrestlings. As you continue to struggle, may I ask if you've found the works of Francis Schaeffer (particularly "The God who is there") or Abraham Kuyper ("Lectures on Calvinism") -- both demonstrate a holistic worldview from an evangelical protestant viewpoint.

Wherever God leads you, I rejoice in your commitment to Christ and to His glory. May you continue to keep your passion strong.

Soli Deo Gloria
Russell

Chase Vaughn said...

Hi Nathan,

Concerning Sola Scriptura, I know that you have probably read a lot of stuff already, but I really recommend Keith Mathison's book "The Shape of Sola Scriptura." This book defends the more historic and robust view of Sola Scriptura that is found in the Lutheran, Anglican, and Continental Reformed traditions as opposed to the every individual alone with his Bible view of modern evangelicalism.

This book may not satisfy your Orthodox tastes, but I hope it is helpful.

John said...

Nathan,

I enjoy your blog, and you and your wife will be in my prayers. Your situation is in some ways similar to mine. I became interested in Orthodoxy 3 years ago this month, and was chrismated last November. My wife remains Protestant. I probably was not as forthcoming as I should have been during my early interest in Orthodoxy. Consequently, I was well down the road, so to speak, before she fully realized what was happening. I was wrong to do this. Then unexpected developments in our church facilitated and perhaps hastened my move to Orthodoxy. My wife has never attended an Orthodox service with me, and steadfastly refuses to do so. I am not interested in debating or arguing, so we really cannot discuss it and there is no movement on her part in that direction. It was ultimately this realization--the fact that she would probably never consider Orthodoxy--that caused me to decide to go ahead and become Orthodox. Although things are much better now, this definitely put a strain on our marriage. We were always active together in our Protestant church, and I do miss those days. Yet despite all the heartache, I don't regret my move in this least. It has been a tremendous, wonderful, ever-new blessing to me. And my prayer remains that my wife will come to experience it as well. Best wishes to you and your wife on your journey of faith.