From the “liberal” parish to the “conservative” and vice versa
The impasse in relations with God and the Church is felt more strongly and painfully than other crises: it encroaches on what is most dear to us.
When I came to the temple, I ended up on Wednesday, which is now commonly called church liberal. My confessor did not burden me, a slender student living with unbelieving parents, neither the prohibitions on obscene food, nor the calls for lengthy prayers. Live calmly, eat everything and don’t swear with your parents. The latter, however, was almost impossible to fulfill.
But my character is restless, it seemed to me that the above is extremely small for salvation, so I tried to secretly fast, which caused parental displeasure. For more than 9 years, before I came to psychotherapy, I was very worried about whether I live correctly, and reproached myself for every little thing. Moreover, these were not constructive thoughts from the series “How to Make Better”, but neurotic self-discipline.
The search for depth on the one hand and unhealthy religiosity on the other led me to the “conservative” parish. At that time, I couldn’t make decisions myself, determine the measure in everything and thought that the priests would definitely do it better than me. They know better, they know better. Now, however, I do not think so. But then she dreamed of real obedience, as in the books of the ancient fathers.
One father promptly responded to such a request. Breaking began. Grievances, misunderstandings, tears … Fortunately, there were people who gently and delicately helped me grow up, taught me to take responsibility. And gradually, I began to listen to myself, to distribute my strength and not to depend on priests.
Perhaps it’s artificially impossible to teach this. You need to live it yourself. The path to understanding my capabilities was very long for me. I’m very close to the position of the psychologist Natalya Inina, which says that if we have problems on a spiritual level, we can’t hold out on communication with God. He will be with us, but we with Him – no: we will not hear Him because of our personal disturbance. I had to learn this truth in my own skin.
The situation was complicated by the fact that at some point I lost a very important ministry for me. I helped the priest to talk in a youth club. Without explanation, I was removed. It was a strange and painful, incomprehensible story. A strong psychological trauma and at the same time a stage, which I would call the end of formalism.
Half a year of throwing at the temples. I had a lot of unexplained pain, personal misunderstandings, and I could not find a parish in spirit. I remember that for some reason, in the church, most of the parishioners seemed to me either Pharisees or uninitiated losers who did not even really know their faith. Ask them what is happening in the temple or what is written in the apostolic letters, they will not even be able to answer plainly. “Do not philosophize,” “so it is necessary,” “so it should be,” “so the priest blessed.”
Studying psychology, I realized: what irritated me was my projection.
The essence of this psychological defense can be well conveyed by the Savior's words about a log in his eye and a grain of sand in his neighbor's eye. To others, we attribute what is characteristic of ourselves: being angry, we can tell the person we talk to that he is angry. So I, "squeezing a drop of the Pharisee from myself," believed that there was just a dominance of legalists around.
Unable to approach the spiritual life with reasoning, to take responsibility, I believed that it was such people who surrounded me.
For several more years I could not listen to the sermons, there was almost physical rejection. Of course, this was also from oversaturation. Someone of my friends drew an analogy with food: for the future you will not get enough. And at one time I "overacted", re-read and listened to Orthodox authors, starting from the Holy Fathers and ending with modern priests. This rejection lasted about 5 years after several years of drunken study of Orthodox sources. Now, fortunately, this condition is passing, but I read and listen to my faith little by little to avoid a new “overeating”.
And then it turned out to listen and read only those who were close in spirit – Archpriest Alexei Uminsky, Hegumen Peter (Mescherinov), Archimandrite Andrei (Konanos) and others. Their word truly supported and comforted, and the speeches of many other priests aroused rejection.
Until now, joyful Orthodoxy with an emphasis on the mercy and love of God, and not sad Christianity with endless nagging about how sinful we are, are closer to me. What you focus on will dominate in life. If sins and mistakes are at the center, religion will turn into a dull duty, and if you rely on an omnipotent God, then faith will become life-giving.
I remember when I began to study psychology, many things in the Holy Fathers caused rejection. And their books were put in the far corner for several years. Recently, trying to deal with problem areas, with what arouses rejection in me, I opened several patristic writings. I realized with surprise: that I didn’t like and was not close, I simply misunderstood! All their statements must be looked at in the context, taking into account, inter alia, time and the culture of their era. And I, it turns out, read their statements again through the projection, through my neurosis.
The wounds began to heal over the years. Thanks for that to my psychologist. Now I didn’t care who lives and is saved, but earlier, I remember, it bothered me a lot.
Is a second wind of love for God and the Church revealed in a spiritual crisis? Probably not at all. I was lucky in that sense. I think it’s not for me alone, because, as we know, the seeker must find.
“In the main – unity, in the secondary – freedom, in everything – love,” – who still owns this phrase? Some attribute it to Blessed Augustine, others to Saint Vincent of Lerinsky, and others to Rupert Meldenius, a Protestant theologian. Be that as it may, it became my motto for living in the Church, an immunity from condemnation.
Everyone lives as he sees fit; God Himself pulls out of the crisis, if we ask Him about it; psychotherapy is a great thing that helps with church problems. These are three things that I lived at a special depth during my intense searches and throwings. And also, as they said in one film, "take it on your own, so as not to fall when walking."
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