Simona Flore, Constanța: My story is a bit embarrassing, but I really need help. No one knew how to explain to me how it is possible for something like this to happen, unfortunately! I am living a drama which, should I have heard about as somebody else’s case, I would have thought that the person is out of his/her mind or is exaggerating. So, it is true that I discovered God (or better said, I succeeded in seeing Him myself, for He has always been within me) only when I had a problem, as many other people do. Eh, when you cannot resist any more and your soul is burning, you raise your eyes to the Sky, otherwise you completely forget who makes you happy every day, in fact. For a period, things went on the right path: I used to confess, go to church, receive communion, fast a little bit, according to my strength, for I had a baby, everything was wonderful! After about 5 years, it happened that I started to swear on different occasions, when I got upset, although I never had the habit to swear before. Then, little by little, it also happened when I was praying, and any time I was losing my temper or getting upset and almost all the time when I was getting close to anything holy. I got to the point where I find myself now, being enough to look at an icon and have inappropriate thoughts besides my prayers, even blasphemy thoughts about God, the saints, amazingly ugly ideas regarding the doing of things that a Christian needs to do, ugly ideas about my spiritual Father and not only about him, sometimes about the Mother of God. I am fighting them with all my being, but I really don’t find the true sense of this experience or what this means, why I have to fight this battle with some things, or better said, words, which in fact I uttered not more than a very few times in my life or I have heard spoken by different people, although I might never have said them. It is strange. I know that all things happen for a reason, but, it seems, this reason, and I am not slandering God by this, ovewhelms me, exhausts me of energy, of the strength and courage to go on! What is your opinion? Do I have a psychological problem or is there something else, maybe anything I had done, maybe there is a curse, maybe I don’t have all the brains with me any more, please forgive me for saying that Mrs Lelia! Thank you for at least reading this, I am satisfied with it! May you and your readers have a wonderful week!”
Lelia Marcu: May God help! This is a problem almost any Orthodox Christian has to face (I am not talking about other religions as I don’t feel competent in that respect, I am only talking about what I know), any Orthodox Christian struggling to walk down on this path of salvation, narrow, abrupt and with a lot of hardships. More or less, almost all of us have to experience something like this, either we admit it or not. Whoever does not have this experience, at least to some extent, is either a blessed of fate or the pathway down Orthodoxy is not right to the middle of walking on it. Saints teach us a lot about this subject, it is good to study their teachings on this subject in order to overcome a situation of this kind. Let us, better, and even more correctly, name it temptation. We know that we come across temptations, regularly, because we failed to learn well or didn’t learn at all some lessons we were meant to learn. Even if this weren’t the case, it is not bad to ask ourselves about a mistake possibly made in the past, better than claiming we are being treated unjustly. God cannot be called unjust when allowing some corrections in our lives, no, and that is why we believe in a God of Truthfulness and Love. Having this situation, although I insist on you reading the saints’ teachings, better than asking me about this, I would point out some aspects, also inspired from the saints:
- Reconsider general confession according to the Confession Guide you may find at church to buy (not from the internet as we don’t know what we are buying); maybe you have ignored one of your sins, maybe some mistake you considered minor was in fact major or maybe you have forgotten about it, or didn’t pay enough attention to it, but it is important.
- If I were you, although you have never uttered dirty words, I would try to remember if I didn’t somehow (this is my guess, more than anything else) laugh at somebody’s words, jokes and it might have happened repeatedly. Trivialities are considered major sins in the case of Orthodox Christians, therefore, knowing this, somehow, in my heart, I might be affected by it without realizing it, I might get tempted by we-know-who, just because he is growing mad, throwing spitefully in my face with anything, being jealous that he is being betrayed, abandoned. The Devil, as compared to a lover, if you leave him, at the beginning he revolts, but it also happens that, waiting for too long to return to him, to your old habits, unorthodox ones, namely, he might be fed up with waiting and looks for your attention aggressively, as a lover that becomes violent, destroying everything around him in his madness, in his frustration, our case, for reasons only he might know and that can be revealed by God if you pray insistently and in faith to Him, to be discovered. You might as well fall into a trap to which you should pay attention, namely, you are making this request of revealing this state of facts because you do not want to suffer any more, instead of asking in your prayer that you are being absolved of a great fault, hanging on yourself like a heavy tin plate, complicating your journey on the road to salvation. For, if we make this request out of self-love, more than out of love for God and for conquesting Heaven, hard times in succeeding!
In time, I have found out, having many troubles, veeery useful to me, that self-love in prayers to God is really damaging, really unproductive. If we really loved one another we would ask for what is good in our case, not something we want in particular situations. I wish that we hadn’t forgotten, first, about the spiritual father’s counsel. I urge you to go and ask your spiritual father for advice. If you hadn’t found the cause together, it is only because you hadn’t asked for what was appropriate. Go again to him and ask God to “confine” reason and open your heart, so that you may inspire your Father, have the Heavens open and give you the right answer to the right question: where I was wrong, what I had forgotten and gave the devil rights to torment me with such temptations. For even if you have sworn occasionally, he might still cry out, with all the confession. From time to time is no little time. Smoking, drinking, eating in excess, adultery… these are infirmities. Repeated swearing has something else in it, another cause, another kind of infirmity, one deriving from malice. For man does not swear out of goodness, had he done this, his curse would have sounded as follows: May God “curse” you with the good! Go to Lord’s Heaven! May the Angels of Heaven take you! Etc.
May God be merciful! I am looking forward to hearing form you… but remember one thing: one shouldn’t sit and talk with the devil. Right as he comes with his stupidities, you think of something else, you repeat the heart prayer, that burns him, you sing to God… Saint John Chrysostom had a word: “the devil, seeing that he is being ignored, in the end, gets bored and leaves”.