It Seems to Me That I Don’t Grow Spiritually. What Should I Do?
Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok, the spiritual father of St. Elisabeth Convent, answers various questions of the parishioners.
Question: Dear Father, your blessing. I go to church every Sunday and I take communion. I read spiritual books and listen to lectures from time to time but nothing ever happens… I don’t seem to change spiritually at all. Sometimes I don’t want to do anything at all (but that must be common for most people). I feel that I don’t move forward. What should I do? Veronica.
Answer: The Lord says, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (Matthew 7: 7). It always happens that when an individual turns to the faith, everything blossoms and smells sweet. He feels as if he can fly. Then there’s a time when that person has to hit the ground. He does his best to change something but nothing changes. That person gets bored and uninspired. I believe that you need to hold on. Do what you have always done: go to church, confess, take communion, and ask God to help you to stand firm in your faith and to remain faithful forever.
The time that you’re going through is really crucial. When God carries you in his arms, it’s easy to believe that you are a hero and that everything is possible. However, when God nudges you to use your own legs for walking, you’ll invariably have problems. Now, you’ve got to learn to walk. A toddler walks down the path, and his feet ache. Don’t spare yourself; keep on walking. Of course, we won’t go very far but at least we’ll learn to be patient and humble, and that’s good enough.
I Can’t Piece My Life Together. Why?
Question: Hello, Father Andrew. I’m unable to piece my life together for some reason. I spent a year in a relationship with a man who turned out to be an alcoholic. He cheated on me, so I left him. I married another man, and he is an alcoholic, too. My dad was an alcoholic. I’ve shed so many tears because of alcohol. Why? What should I do? Veronica.
Answer: When people live without the Church and construct their life temerariously using only their own reasoning, the enemy of the human race finds a way to break their life into pieces.
It isn’t God, it is man who chooses the sin. God is waiting for us to request his help. Therefore, the question “Why?” should not be pointed at God. God came into this world to save the sinner. It wasn’t God who concealed himself from us humans: it is us who hid from God. It wasn’t God who broke up with us, it is our own fault. That is why we suffer for our sins.
We were born into this world. Sin is the norm of our life. Only Jesus makes it possible for us to defeat our nature, our flesh and blood, and to start a journey towards a new life in the Heavenly Kingdom. Needless to say, this is a path full of struggle with ourselves, with the devil, and with the world. That is why we should not be asking why. Rather, we should pray, “Lord save me, save my family, make me strong enough to fight the sin and to believe that it will be vanquished in the end.” This is what we should be thinking.
Are Karate Classes Compatible with Orthodoxy?
Question: Father Andrew, your blessing. We’ve decided to enroll our son in karate classes. We met his coach, and the coach told us that he mostly pays attention to general physical agility and discipline during the first couple of years. Then he gradually begins to teach them techniques, etc.
He doesn’t do spiritual practices and doesn’t encourage his students to participate in religious practices or discuss religious matters. However, our friends told us that karate is a kind of Far Eastern martial arts, and therefore contradicts the tenets of Orthodoxy. They added that we shouldn’t let our child be entangled in it. We would like our son to grow into an honest, just, physically and spiritually robust boy and man. What do you think about it? Svetlana.
Answer: You are right. You’ve talked with the coach and saw what kind of person he is, whether he is trustworthy or not. You’ve voiced your doubts with regard to the pseudo-spiritual Oriental practices. Your son will grow and develop. I don’t think it will inflict any spiritual harm on his soul—especially since you go to church with your child, and he takes communion. If anything bad happens, you’ll certainly notice it. You love your son and pay attention to him. Don’t hesitate. Children, especially boys, need to grow strong and powerful. Sometimes they need to be able to defend themselves, too.
The main influence on a child comes not from outside; it comes from within the family. That is why, if your family has love and peace, if you live with God, that’s the most important thing. All other things shall be added unto you.
November 15, 2018
St. Elisabeth Convent