faith · · Orthodoxy · saints

Do Different Things

My intellect and emotional habits…sometimes even my morals shut me off from God.  And the thought of giving them up produces such a scare that I only adhere insofar as it does not require, that it does not demand that I do different things.  The spiritual definition of humility makes me ponder the attachments I have, the strongholds of mountainous pride…pride that can be characterized as habits, customs, rituals…maybe that is what iniquity is..the long standing traditions of sin passed down…the chromosome of bad habit.

Maybe that is what Christ meant when he said you must hate your mother and father if you are to be a follower…people of The Way.  We must receive the new Way. We must adhere to the Tradition…not traditions.  This Way, a new way of walking and thinking, is foreign to me, it is not my mother’s wisdom, or my father’s…it is different.  And letting go of tidy systems, and principles, and convictions is scary.  It requires that I change my mind, that I allow myself to be censored, to admit that I have not yet understood a thing. (That Man Is You,Louis Evely)

God asks Abraham to leave his homeland; he must journey to find the promised land.  We all have a journey to make, and it requires humility to so often be practice detachment.  The rut of sin is mud dried hard, that rutted road that leads home, the road that we know so well…so well we drive it in the dark or even blindly. However, I have found that the road that leads to heaven requires attentiveness and light and road signs.  It is not a familiar road.

Some say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  I agree.  My only hope is that there is peace in store for those who are obsessed with being changed, who try different things in that eternal search for perfection, who are accused of foolishness, but really they are just people unwilling to stay the way there are, because the pursuit is all about becoming something different…becoming like God.

To those who resist change, the spiritual journey can be full of anxiety and anger.  To those who are satisfied the spiritual journey can be full of unnecessary angst.  But for those who hunger and thirst, who believe themselves to be poor, who would rather be a fool than remain unchanged, those are given the blessings of discipleship. That to me defines a saint..those who have been given the blessings of discipleship.

It has been my experience that God, being the author and finisher of this faith, can ask ANYTHING.  And He resists me when I say, “Nothing can be done.”  Because obedience is always an option.  If I would only obey, things would change. I would change.  I have a long way to go.

A group of my friends gathered at my house this weekend for a party.  As we were setting under the twinkle lights on my patio, laughing and reminiscing, the conversation turned to me.  A friend commented that it was interesting watching me over the years, how I change so often, how I believe something so strongly and then I don’t, how I have changed my mind so much.  I was brought low by this opinion, somehow I believe stability validates the truth..that my perceived instability nullifies my credibility.  In truth, I have no credibility. I only hope that the witness of my life has not brought scandal.

 As I listened to my friends censor me, friends who have walked with me for over ten years, seen my journey, witnessed my life in flux, I kept silent…I had no defense.  I am what they say…I am a person who wants to change.  I want to do different things.  Because truth is worth every sacrifice.

“… it is certainly required that what is subject to change be in a sense always coming to birth. In mutable nature nothing can be observed which is always the same. Being born spiritually, in the sense of constantly experiencing change, does not come about as the result of external initiative, as is the case with the birth of the body, which takes place by means outside our control. Such a birth occurs by choice. We are in some manner our own parents, giving birth to ourselves by our own free choice in accordance with whatever we wish to be? moulding ourselves to the teaching of virtue or vice.”

Saint Gregory of Nyssa The Life of Moses


4 thoughts on “Do Different Things

  1. I can identify. Sometimes our quest for Truth and sanctification can make us appear fickle. The consistency is in our willingness to change, to admit our failings and keep struggling towards the top of the mountain. Your life speaks volumes, Mandy.


  2. Perseverance. When we fall, we get up, and that, we know, is by God's grace!! Only God knows what is truly commendable in us, and only He knows the depth of our depravity, as well – so it's good that we live for Him and pray to hear Him say in the end, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” What anyone else thinks of us, well, we hope to be improved by pondering it….

    St. Gregory is echoed in Metropolitan Anthony Bloom's words that I blogged about here I will save this quote. Thank you!

    May God bless you and all of your loved ones!


  3. That is a link I had not considered…spiritual change is not organic, in that it happens by natural process. It is creative. God is creative…making all things new. I cannot imagine a faith that was static…to me that is the opposite of faith. And the kind of changing I adhere to does not make my life feel unstable…but alive!


  4. It is interesting Jill, but I deleted a whole paragraph about being fickle. How the change I am talking about does not come from getting bored or disinterested, or moving on to better things…like a fickle friend. No this kind of change is does not leave anything behind.


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