Good afternoon! I am 42, married, a housewife for 4 years already. I am Orthodox, but over the past 10 years I have read only a few Orthodox books, and I have not fully studied the Bible. Where should I get motivation? Everything seems to be good in life and nothing is changing. Is it a sin to read books (not by Orthodox authors) about success and books about psychology written by foreign authors? How to reach success?
Archpriest Andrei Efanov answers:
Dear Olga, the question is what you mean by success. When the goal will be formulated precisely, it will be possible to think over a strategy how to move towards it, and tactics: specific steps, actions that need to be performed every day in order to reach this goal.
It seems to me that motivation does not come from anywhere. A person begins to do something, it may work out well right away, or it can work out well later, sometimes one or two steps are enough to feel a taste for work, sometimes it takes weeks and months of daily actions, albeit small but regular. When you get into stride of understandable actions that are aimed at the desired goal, the joy of work will appear, and some benefit will be seen, and the work itself will captivate you.
If there is no such stride yet, then first you need to force yourself: to discipline yourself and just do what is needed for your purpose.
If it’s about health, then go to the gym and go there regularly. Regularity generally has a lot of benefit: it streamlines a person’s life and gives energy to move on.
There is the same thing with the Scriptures. Join a Sunday adult school where you will study the Scriptures, and attend the full course of classes. Talk to your spiritual counsellor about how he will bless you to read the Scriptures. There is an option to read 1 chapter from the Gospel and 2 chapters from the Apostles every day. Maybe for you this is too much and you need to read a half of this volume. Perhaps your spiritual father will advise you to read half of the chapter from the Gospel with comments, and then proceed to the Apostles. Here, I repeat, it is important to read it daily, systematically, calmly, not expecting that knowledge of the Bible will fall on you from heaven. It will not fall, but it will accumulate gradually, over the weeks, months and years of reading.
The same rule is also suitable for your profession: if you want to improve your qualifications, you should either enroll in the simplest short-term courses, or take a book that is suitable for advanced training, and start reading it every day and completing tasks. But, probably, courses are better for you, because they will organize you.
As for books on success and the question of sin, I should point out that “sin” means “mistake.” And the choice to do or not to do something depends on whether it is good for our soul or not.
Your problem, if I understood it right, is that you dream and think a lot, but do not take real action. I suppose that reading books about success will only strengthen this problem: the situation with the Scriptures and work requires active actions of you, but they are replaced by reading books about success. And this is a very dangerous substitution: you seem to be reading useful books, but in reality it does not help you reach your goals. Therefore, I would advise you to read these books only at the same time as taking real active actions in the three ways outlined to you, but not instead of them!
Of course, you need to talk about your condition with your spiritual father, look inside yourself again, see the root of your problem, diagnose and repent of a sin, and then knowing the tendency to such relaxation uproot it from the heart. At first it will be very unusual and uncomfortable, but after a few weeks of action, you will see how your life will be changing.
God help you!
Translated by Alyona Malafeeva