Friday, June 5, 2009

The Hales' Journey, part 13: Breakthrough

Incognito Clint, hoping no one from the Church of Christ will see him visiting the Orthodox "Book Truck" (see below) - he should have also worn a hat and fake beard, possibly with some Groucho Marx glasses too just for good measure.

As I grew up in the Church of Christ, it had instilled in me a deep desire for truth. We were told that we must be willing to pay any cost to follow Christ. Granted, we usually used that argument when we were trying to convert someone to our group, but it was equally true for us as we considered mission work, or whatever. I think it is one of the really good things about the Church of Christ. They really believe that every man can prove a liar, but God is true. I believe that.

So when I found Orthodoxy, I realized that I had that treasure buried in the field and I was ready to and sell everything I possessed to buy it. Unfortunately, by then, I had a wife and kids to consider (unfortunate in that she did not agree, not in that I had a wife – but I hope you knew what I meant). So as we have seen, Debbie has kept me from selling most of my possessions and I certainly didn’t possess what I most wanted.

I mentioned last time that I sent Debbie a link to Fr. Stephen’s blog because I thought she would enjoy his posting. Honestly, Debbie is much more of the “devotional” style person, while I am more “study to learn.” Not that we don’t both enjoy the other, but we lean different ways. Often someone who communicates to me doesn’t to her and vice versa. I read this particular article (I don’t remember which one) and thought, “Debbie would enjoy reading that.” I wasn’t trying to “Orthodoxalize” her or anything.

But she thought I was. She didn’t say anything to me, but she had had enough! She was going to do some study on this “Orthodoxy” stuff and show me once and for all how much poppycock it was. In fact, unbeknownst to me at the time, she spent one entire night at the computer, without sleep, looking up various things. It had been a week or so since I had sent her the link and she asked me something about “Church History Timelines” or something like that. We found some online. I hadn’t put two and two together yet. Finally, Debbie came to me and told me that she must be going crazy, but that she thought I might be right about Orthodoxy.

My mouth hit the floor. The first thought that went through my mind was “we just bought this house.” I knew instantly that our lives had just taken a profound shift. I would not have to remain a Church of Christ preacher for year after year, hoping and praying that my wife would finally come around. I knew it was just a short matter of time.

However, Debbie was still a little more thoughtful and pragmatic about the situation than I would tend to be on my own. There was no way that I was just quitting my job without something else to fall back on. That posed a problem. Now I had slacked on my Masters Program in English because there hadn’t been a real need for the past year or so. But now there was. I ramped that degree plan into high gear and got started on my Masters. My goal was to get a job teaching in a community college. We weren’t even too particular where. Of course, Texas was preferred, but we enjoyed Virginia and North Carolina, so they were OK, too.

I finished the degree in May, 2007. It was about 3 months after Debbie had come around. I started applying like crazy everywhere. One thing I found was that all of those colleges had not been waiting with bated breath for me to graduate so they could compete for my services. In fact, I couldn’t get most of them to acknowledge that I even existed. But more on that later.

Once Debbie had come around, she was insatiable. She wanted to know more and learn more. That is the Church of Christ way. I tried to explain to her that she also needed to experience Orthodoxy, but coming from me, the message didn’t communicate very well.

The Orthodoxmobile, complete with onion dome on top. See how small it is?

She wanted to buy some books, but wanted to look at them first. So we found a Bulgarian Orthodox mission in Roanoke, VA that had a bookstore in a truck. I contacted the priest and we arranged a meeting. It turned out that they were building their new Church right there on their property, so we got a really neat tour, as well. This was a good experience for Debbie because she had finally met some Orthodox folks. She had touched them and spoken with them. She had seen icons and books. The only problem was that it was over 90 minutes to drive there and they didn’t do Saturday Vespers until 8 PM. We had three little kids and had to be up early on Sundays.

It was also at this time that Fr. James and I began to concoct a scheme that might be able to bring me back to Texas. He knew a job that I could apply for. So we were talking about that, as well.

Things had finally taken a turn for the better.


Walt Trachim said...

What an incredble witness!

I have been reading this from Part One, and I have to say it has held my attention. Not speaking for anyone else, but I am looking forward to reading the rest of the story....

Isabel said...

I just saw you and Debbie and the lovely little ones last Sunday at the Antiochian Church, so I KNOW this will turn our well. ;-))

elizabeth said...

Each time I just want to hear more! Looking forward to part 14!

s-p said...

It indeed is amazing what touches one person or another. That is one of the beauties of Orthodoxy, it addresses the "whole person" so whatever way you are oriented it has a place for you. The problem is often that we assume everyone else thinks/feels like we do.

Elizabeth said...

I loved the idea of the Orthodoxmobile bookshop :-)

Enjoying each new episode immensely !

trueseek said...

Clint, Do you have copies of your sermons at this time :-)? Just trying to figure out how you preached the Truth of discoveries in Original Christian understanding of the Faith and not lead many to either throw you over the cliff or follow you as you followed Christ?

Clint said...

Hi Truseak,

Since there are actually quite a number of things that are generally acceptable to Christians, it wasn't that big of a deal to teach what I believed, but without facing a firing squad.

Unfortunately, no, I don't have much from my sermons, etc from then. I got rid of most everything. I do have some older stuff that was recorded several years ago, but Orthodoxy wasn't in the picture back then.

trueseek said...

Great meeting you and your family in Church today.

humbly in Christ,