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Feeling a lack of purpose


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#1 Irene Hanlon

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 06:12 PM

Dear all,

I recently returned from two years living and working abroad and have moved in with my parents while I look for work.  I am finding and applying for jobs.  I am saying my normal prayer rule, fasting when appropriate, going to church services, preparing for and receiving communion.  The problem is that I feel purposeless.  I confessed this  during my last confession (to a visiting priest, but one I know - my normal priest is away) and the visiting priest scolded me that my purpose in life is to save my soul.  I understand that, but how to put that into daily practice?  I am not having any conflicts with my parents, and I don't see anyone else outside of church services.  Mostly I am fighting boredom. Looking for an applying to jobs only takes so long, I have a stack of library books to read, some craft projects I am working on finishing, I help out around the house, occasionally I telephone friends, but I feel lost and bored which leads me to waste time browsing the internet, searching for something uplifting that will make me 'feel better.'  I'm also starting to develop an impractical travel lust that I think is based on a desire for more interesting stimuli.  My question is, how do I, in day-to-day actuality, work on saving my soul while my biggest struggle is boredom?



#2 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 11:01 PM

This is a pastoral matter on which your priest should advise. Why not ask your priest how you could help in a practical way in your parish? Could you read during the services or serve? Does the church need cleaning or painting? Can you do voluntary work in your area?



#3 Father David Moser

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 11:09 PM

Irene,

Its good to hear that you are back safely.  Welcome home.  I'm not sure I can give you any purpose but maybe I can give you some perspective that leads to hope.  When Moses faced a crisis of faith - having come back to Egypt and demanded that Pharaoh let the children of Israel go, the Pharaoh began even more earnestly to mistreat the Hebrew slaves - he complained to God saying basically "Why are You doing this to me and to your people"  Then God replied to Moses saying "Now shalt thou see what I will do..."  This then is God's message to you - wait and "see what I will do".  You are on the cusp of great things, you have only to wait and see what God will do for you, how He will guide you.  Don't worry about tomorrow - simply do whatever God puts in front of you today.  Later then you can look back and be amazed at where God has led you and how you came to the place which He has prepared for you.

 

Fr David



#4 Phoebe K.

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 11:26 AM

Irene,

 

I understand what you are feeling as I know the feeling well not having had more than a very short spell of part time employment since I left university.

 

Boredom is the great problem when not employed, as Andreas suggests getting some volentery work can help (it also looks good on the CV, as it show you were doing something when not being payed to work). 

 

I too strugle at times not to waste time doing frivols things on the computer, I have found that the only way sometimes it to turn it off, and the TV as well and to focus on reading or craft projects, in the latter it can be helpful to combine it with sayings he Jesus Prayer in the way the deasrt fathers made baskets.  Even than we can feel the boredom, it is neccery though to say well no I am not going to be tempted to looking for ever noval or new things but sit with the boredom and really be it, then we discover a peace which dose not need always new things but can be whatever is happening or not.  This dose take a lot of effort and maturity and can bring unexpected growth in the spiritual life as we can no longer hide from ourselves, this can be very hard initially but long term it gives us the strength to cope when difficult situations arise.

 

We all go through dark times spiritually and it is not necessarily a bad thing, it is a trile and it tests how much we really want to unite ourselves with our Lord.  The theology of this is far more developed in the western troditions, but a few in the Orthodox tradition do speak of it, few of us have to go through it in the way St Antony the great did or St Siluan.  Each person will experience it in a different way sometimes the struggle is short and deep, other times it is the long hard time of feeling that we are not of use, it is only latter looking back we can see the growth in endurance and patience that such a trile brings.

 

You may also find it helps to spend a few days at a monastery which may help you understand better what is going on in yourself, and the breathein may well be able to help you learn how to deal with boredom as every novice goes through that stage once the novelty wheres off and the reality of the monastic life hits.

 

I hope a little of what I have learnt the hard way may help you.

 

Phoebe



#5 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 11:35 AM

Just to say that St Theophan the Recluse knew that no one can spend their entire waking hours in prayer alone, and he took up carpentry as an activity. I agree with Phoebe that CV/Resume content is important. I don't know what your field is but no employer will be impressed by inactivity: try to get internships or some kind of work experience.



#6 Ben Johnson

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 02:00 PM

Remember to get some exercise in, if you are not already.



#7 Mark Harris

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 10:16 PM

Enrol on a distance learning Orthodox certificate and do a couple of modules . I have done some at IOCS but I am in the UK but I am aware of some US courses as well. These will absorb you totally and be fulfilling .

#8 Kosta

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 06:58 AM

Irene,

 

I understand what your saying as this is a similiar situation with me. Unfortunately this problem is broader than either of us. We are attempting to live an Orthodox life in a non-Orthodox, non-traditional culture. The common people around us tend not to understand us, we are peculiar too them.  So there lies that social vacuum your decribing



#9 Teresa

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 04:10 PM

Perhaps your church has some ministry groups you could get active in. Or maybe volunteering for a charitable Organization. That might help you find a sense of purpose.

#10 Irene Hanlon

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 04:04 AM

Thanks.  (Incidentally as there is no notification system I didn't know anyone had responded). I ended up visiting some Orthodox friends which helped me get into a different mindset (and away from the internet) and now I am preparing to begin a new job and move to a new city and I shall see where my various talents will be needed in my new parish.






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