Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My Faith Journey....part deux

Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to the story of my faith journey. Things have been crazy lately and this is the kind of post I wanted to spend some time thinking about before I write it. Let’s see, where was I? Oh yeah, I had just gotten divorced after a 20 year marriage, left the Southern Baptist church our family attended and returned to my Episcopal roots. I loved that little Episcopal Church. People were warm and accepting and obviously loved Christ. But the dissolution of my marriage had put me into a spiritual “depression” of sorts. I kept going to church, but inside I was questioning almost everything I had ever believed. Oh, I still believed in a loving God who sent His Son to rescue us. Other than that everything else was up for grabs. I had prayed for so long for God to heal my marriage, change my husband, make me more submissive. I read Scripture and claimed verses as promises from God that He would do a miracle. In the end, He not only didn’t do a miracle but left it to me to declare the marriage dead. And it was. Deader than the proverbial door nail. In the end, I came to understand that if I didn’t get out of this dead relationship, I would sacrifice myself, emotionally and spiritually, and that I had no right to deprive my children of their mother.

But I was deeply, deeply disappointed in God. To make a long story short, I spent the next several years wandering around in a wilderness not sure of what was really true or real. I felt like my faith and my church had let me down at best and lied to me at worst. During this time God gave me a very great (and undeserved) blessing….my husband Dennis. We were married in 2003.

Then last summer God shook me awake. My beloved Anglican Communion was in crisis and the Episcopal Church, the Communion’s US branch, was clearly apostate. For years I had gone back and forth on the various problems confronting the church, hearing both sides of the argument but not sure what was true. Finally this question came to me: “Do you want a God who glosses over your failings in the name of uncritical love or do you want a God who has the kind of love manifested in the desire and the power to change you?” I knew at that moment that the only kind of God I wanted to worship was the second kind. And let me hasten to add that this was clearly a work of the Holy Spirit. This question and its answer did not come from me but from God.

So I began to search for another church. I knew I needed a liturgical church so that narrowed the possibilities to two: the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodoxy. I started with the Catholic Church. Like a lot of people I thought Orthodoxy would be too ethnic and strange for this Anglophile. I read a lot of books about Catholicism, joined the RCIA class at my local Catholic parish and spent an inordinate amount of money at the Catholic bookstore. I learned a lot. I learned about sola scriptura (I had never heard of it before!) and why it didn’t work. I learned about apostolic succession and the early church fathers. The daughter of historians, I loved the connection to ancient believers. I got to know Mary and started praying the rosary. Suddenly, I had found my spiritual life again. But there were some problems, my divorce and remarriage being chief among them. I also had a hard time getting on board with papal infallibility. Although I came close at times, I never felt the go-ahead to become Catholic. I was at an impasse. I was clearly no longer Protestant in my beliefs, but neither was I Roman Catholic. Eventually, it dawned on me that I needed to consider Orthodoxy. I started my research with the Internet and Frederica Mathews-Green’s books. Then I decided I needed to bite the bullet and visit an Orthodox church. To my great surprise I found a friend from my last Episcopal church had just been chrismated there! She helped me through my first Divine Liturgy. I knew almost immediately I was home. So that’s where I am today. I can hardly wait for the day when I will join the great river of Orthodox faith that has its source in Christ, flowing down from the apostles in an unbroken stream that will continue until He returns.

1 comment:

Shelley said...

Hi Nancy,
I've enjoyed reading about your faith journey, with so many parallels to my own! I haven't written much about it on my blog, but maybe it's time.