Today I am excited to welcome Michelle from Orthodox in the Ozarks as she shares her journey to the Orthodox faith. I always find it inspiring to hear about how God has led others, and I hope you will be encouraged as well! If you would like to share your story, send a 500-750 word essay to firstname.lastname@example.org for possible publication.
I have heard it said that we spend our waking hours making decision after decision. They range from small, inconsequential choices to major, life altering decisions and everything in between. This can be exhausting. Are we making the right decisions? Or are we even deciding at all? It’s just so darn easy to follow along with the rest of the crowd. Who doesn’t want to trust that someone wise has done the thinking and decided what is best for the rest of us?
When my husband and I were starting our family, we were happily on the same path with our friends, families and most middle class Americans. Then one strange winter, we decided to turn off the TV. Yes, it was that simple. We actually packed it away to hide the temptation of turning it back on.
We began to read together and through the words of Wendell Berry, Jerry Mander and other like-minded authors, seeds were planted in our hearts. We started rethinking many things we had accepted without question. It seemed to us that the world (at least our immediate world) was acting in imitation of what was fed to us every day on the TV. From clothing styles to the way people interacted with one another, to the long list of questionable behaviors that were deemed acceptable. All we had to do was turn on the TV to see a sitcom or reality show telling us what was normal. But we began asking, who exactly had the power to decide what was normal…much less right?
That was when we began making changes. We started making choices based on the things we found to be good and true: nature, health, love for others, and love for God. We chose home birth, homeschooling, living in the country, and most importantly, we chose the Orthodox Christian Church.
More accurately said, God chose to show us the Orthodox Christian Church and we followed.
My husband and I were both raised in middle class, Protestant homes. We attended Sunday school and revivals in our respective home towns. We learned about Jesus and the Bible. We met many lovely people along the way; pastors who inspired, youth leaders and old folks whose light shone so brightly. We both yearned for a rich spiritual life, but something was missing. Where was the sanctity, the awesomeness and holiness befitting an omnipotent God? What about the rest of the story? Early in our married life, we visited different churches and even tried “home church” for a while. Nothing satisfied.
This was when my husband (the history teacher) stepped in and started researching. His angle was a practical one. Worship as we know it today started somewhere, what was the origin? Wouldn’t the church, run by Christ’s disciples per His instructions be the most pure form of Christianity? The search ended 18 month and numerous books later when we found what we were looking for. The Orthodox Christian Church. Christ’s Church. Teachings based on Holy Scripture and complete with ancient traditions, saints and the wisdom of the church fathers passed down unchanged for generations.
We had found the ancient church and it was alive in our own hometown!
We started writing letters, asking questions of monastics and priests, and finally visited our first Orthodox Church. It was completely different from anything we had experienced, yet so familiar. It was holy and other-worldly, and it was home.
Soon after, my family was baptized, and that was 18 years ago. We have a loving church family. In the midst of that family, we continue to pray, learn, and strive to be closer to God.
We are still grateful for that winter so long ago when, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we turned off our TV and started seeking.
My name is Michele Latham. I am an Orthodox Christian living and worshiping in the Missouri Ozarks. Theotokos, “Unexpected Joy” is the name of our little country church under the care of Archpriest, Father Moses Berry. Orthodox in the Ozarks, is where my friends and I post thoughts and stories pertaining to living the Orthodox life. Being Orthodox in the Ozarks is really no different from being Orthodox anywhere else, it just changes the flavor of our story a bit.
If you enjoyed Michelle’s post, check out these other articles from Orthodox in the Ozarks.
What is your story of faith? Have you ever tried a similar experiment of turning off the TV for awhile?