Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Hales' Journey, Part 11 - Waiting

Patient Clint, thinking, "Okay, if I can't be Orthodox, maybe I could be Presbyterian! Yeah, that's the ticket! But wait...I'm O-for-five on the points of Calvinism! Ah, shucks; I think I'll just quit thinking about it and play with my kids!"

Urmas and I had decided to make a stand. As a result, he ended up in Texas in a matter of days, while my family was stuck in Estonia for several more months. And I do mean stuck. Part of that was because of decisions made by our sponsoring church who basically told me that my ministry in Estonia was over and I was to desist from participating in any further activities. That meant that I spent four months doing a bunch of nothing (though I did actually do some “helping out” for other missionaries in country).

But the US Government was also making it sticky. It seems that nearly two year old adopted boys have the potential to be quite dangerous or something. I am still not sure. But rather than go off on a tirade against the immigration policies of our government (which I am still known to do on occasion), suffice it to say that they didn’t make it easy.

For the past year, I had been moving toward Orthodoxy at a fairly steady rate. For the first time since deciding that Orthodoxy was the truth, I began to have doubts. Maybe Orthodoxy was a good picture of what the church looked like in 400 AD, but they hadn’t kept up with the times. Maybe the reformers had corrected the Roman church to a more proper form. In fact, because Debbie was so against Orthodoxy, I just couldn’t imagine us being a two church household. I was grasping at straws, trying to find something that we could agree on.

Without Urmas’ support, I caved. I stopped attending the Divine Liturgy and began to study Calvinism. I told Debbie that I never intended on darkening the Church of Christ’s doors again, but that I would find an alternative that she could be happy with. With a big sigh of relief, she agreed.

In late October 2005, the government was finally nice enough to let us all come home. We were faced with two immediate issues: first, I needed a job and second, where would we go to church? For church, we started attending a little start up church that met in the auditorium of a Christian School. It had Presbyterian roots, and was EXTREMELY conservative. Let’s just say they were hardcore Calvinists.

Regarding a job… well, remember when I said I wasn’t qualified to do much? That was still true. But I did have some friends. One of them got me an interview with his boss and I was hired on my friend’s recommendation. I was to be an appliance repairman. I knew zilch about appliances, except how to turn the on. But I rode with my friend for a few weeks, got the hang of it and jumped in. It turned out that I was actually really good at it. I had found something that I had a natural talent for.

We were living in San Antonio at the time, which is where Debbie grew up. We were attending the little Reformed Church and for a little while things seemed to be settling down. I still had a few Orthodox leanings and even got Debbie to go on a weekday to the Antiochian mission for one of the services. I don’t remember which one it was, but she went. She hated it.

So I finally came to the conclusion that I would still try to become Orthodox, but I would take my time. I would stop trying to force stuff on Debbie and let it happen naturally (whatever that meant). I tend to be impatient, but I realized that this could well be a years-long endeavor. I steeled myself to that possibility and just bided my time.

At the same time, Debbie told me that she wanted to go to church with her mom. So after vowing to never return to the Church of Christ again, I found myself sitting in the pew at a Church of Christ each Sunday. I was miserable. Debbie was happy. Little did we know that this decision to attend with her family would shake up our plans even more. God wasn’t through with us yet….


Clint said...

Though Fr. James has repeatedly told me that I was exhibiting patience, I know that the reality is that I caved...

I have been encouraged by all of you who have been reading along. I think you will enjoy the next couple of installments...

s-p said...

You could have stuck with 5 Point Calvinism then tried to convince your wife you were predestined to be Orthodox. :)

s-p said...

Clint, Sometimes it is wise to cave. Though it seems to come from weakness, it also comes from pressures we SHOULD feel, like concern for our marriage and kids etc. Though it might not have been purposive patience, it bore the fruit of patience. Sometimes we are fighting the wrong battles and a retreat, even if it seems motivated by ourself as weakness, is at a deeper level more righteous than pressing on. Anyway, I'm loving the story. Thanks for sharing it.

Fr. James Early said...

I totally agree with what Steve said.