Thoughts of Leaving the Orthodox Church

Archpriest Joseph Huneycutt | 23 February 2016
The following reply was sent, a few years back, to a frustrated Orthodox Christian who had written me with thoughts of leaving the Orthodox Church. I found this while looking through some old files. I post it here for the sake of others who may find themselves in a spiritual funk. Forgive me.

Dear XXX,

First off, please forgive the delay in my reply. I have nothing but excuses, save fear of failing you in my answer.

I was once in a similar state as you now find yourself. I got to the point where, though I found comfort in praying the services and serving as pastor, I hated everything “Orthodox”. A magazine would arrive with a picture of a priest in vestments — a service, baptism, or some such — and I would look at the picture with loathing and cast it aside in anger. It usually found its way to the back of the bathroom toilet. Then I’d have a visceral reaction every time I saw it.

I hated all things that looked and smacked of “Orthodoxy” — all the while trying to lead a small community. It was awful.

I won’t go into the details of how I got to that point, but (forgive me here, please) I remember walking into the church early one morning and cursing myself before all the saints portrayed on the icons. It was a horrible two years.

That said, it was years ago, here I am … still.

Back in 2006, I was hearing confessions at St George, Houston, during one of the Presanctified Liturgies. The church was dark and full, lots of confessions, the choir was singing beautifully. I wept.

It occurred to me that that very moment, when I felt close to God and heaven, would not have been possible if I had not held on during those terrible years. You might not be able to hear this in your current state but, really, it’s all — ALL OF IT — worth it.

During those years of struggle I tried everything — confession, counseling, crying, cussing, prostrations, Jesus Prayer, gossip — everything! What can I say? I’m a poor priest and a great sinner. But, like you, I truly believe that the Orthodox Church is the fullness of Christ in the world. Honestly, in hindsight, I thank God that I was ordained; else, in my weakness, I might surely have left the Church.

Now, years later, things are drastically different. Oh I’m still worthless if you scratch me hard enough. But I look back on those bad years in awe. My life, ministry and outlook are so much — so vastly — different now, through no feat of my own, save hanging in there.

Oh sure, there was God’s mercy, etc, yada, yada, yada. But, spoiled that I am, I expected that. Besides, some things sound trite when you’re in a funk. God is, after all, God; of that I had no doubt. Though unconscious of it, I had plenty of doubts about me.

What is remarkable is that I stayed. And that has made all the difference. The problem wasn’t the Church, Orthodoxy, or Mercy, you see. It was me.

I needed the Church.

I have added you to my poor prayers; I covet yours. (You’re welcome to vent this way if needed.)

With love in Christ,

Fr Joseph

Copyright by Fr. Joseph Huneycutt. Reproduced with permission.

Система Orphus Do you see a mistake in the text? Highlight it and click: Ctrl + Enter
Did you enjoy this article? Consider helping us!
Pravmir depends on your donations:
the more you give, the more we can do.
Other amount
Paypal.com
20 $
Paypal.com
50 $
Paypal.com
100 $
Paypal.com
Related articles
Do not Fear Unbelief!

Protopriest Pavel Velikanov talks about this Sunday’s Gospel reading on the conversion of Thomas

Doubt

Doubt gets a bad rap in the New Testament.  James says that one who doubts is…

For Spiritual Seekers

A few months ago, I spoke with a group of students at a local college about…

Dear Friends,

Our website exists owing to your generous assistance, thanks to the funds donated by our beloved readers.

Please assist us in the continuation of our work.