the Life and Times of Warrior Woman

blonde recluse. nihilarian pronk.

the old adage.

with 5 comments

I started this blog because that’s what I do.  I start blogs.  I’ve been blogging since 1999 (it wasn’t called that way then).  My attempts to make money from it failed so far.  My attempts to keep a regularly updated personal blog failed as well.  I’d like to explain why, but I think if I knew, I would’ve corrected the mistake by now.

I like writing.  It’s an outlet, always have been.  I like blogging.  I like sharing, even though after all these years I still haven’t found that balance between sharing and oversharing.

I like writing about many things.  Sometimes I’m afraid that these things are too many to fit into one singular blogs.  But when I try to open separate, so-called ‘niche’ blogs, none of them get updated ever.  Yet when it’s thrown into one blog altogether, it’s kind of a mess.

And I guess it’s a reflection of me.  I am a mess.  I would perhaps get into the details, but where I live it’s 2 am, and I’ve been up since 7 or 8 the day before, and I have to stay up for another 1.5 hours or so, to give my mother her medicines.  I’ve just finished the last episode of GCB, so writing is pretty much the only thing left to do.  Besides my endless list of house tasks and, of course, praying.

It’s been hard to pray lately.  I’m hardly managing Our Father, Hail Mary, the Prayer of the Publican.  On a good day I manage Seraphim of Sarov’s prayer rule.  I’ve read two kathismas during the last three days.  I try.  But lately the only prayer falling from my lips is “God, help me”.  Lord, have mercy.  I’ve given up on my morning and evening prayer rules.

I pray.  But it’s mostly in a form of questions and thoughts.

One of the reasons I started writing this blog was to find answers to my own questions.  Answers that are not easily to be found, either via reading, or my own writing, or talking with more knowledgeable people, with elders, with veteran members of my Church (in a big, universal way).

I am an Orthodox Christian.  Orthodoxy, by its name in English, suggests conservative outlook.  And it’s correct.  Orthodox Christianity is conservative.  And I try to adhere, and in many ways I do.  And in some ways I agree.

Yes, that’s right.  In some.  But not in all.

Let me just say that I’m not about to jump boats and choose a different path of salvation.  Which, by the way, Orthodox Christianity accepts.  Yes, the Orthodox (like any other denomination, I suppose) believe that our Church’s way is the most complete, the most wholesome way of praising the Lord.  But they do not deny salvation to other denominations.  God is One.

So I am not denying the fact that I’m Orthodox.  There’s no denying it.  I’ve ‘toyed’ with other spiritualties for quite a while, both Christian and not.  For a while I’ve even considered myself atheist, though that was kind of silly.  I usually ended every day of that period with looking at the ceiling, thinking, “Nah, God, I don’t think I believe in You.  You do not exist.”

So, I am Orthodox.

But how do I find a balance?

Because I am also a feminist. 

(Ladies, before you start with your spiels about the idiocy of feminism, kindly remind yourselves that you can (in many countries) a) wear trousers; b) vote; c) work outside home; d) drive; e) get a divorce; f) have a choice. That’s what feminism is about, not who opens the door for whom.)

And even though the Bible says that I can consider fields and buy them (essentially, be a businesswoman), let’s just say that it’s preferable for a Godly woman to be a wife and a mother.

And I am not a wife and a mother.  I am not saying I will never be one, but right now the chances of this are slim.  Does that make me less of a woman?  Unfortunately, many of my confession will believe that yes, it does make me less of a woman.

I believe in the separation of church and state.  I don’t think I’m qualified to write about this, at least not in clever words.  But even though ‘one nation under God’ might sound alluring… It really isn’t.  Because there are a lot of nations inside any one country.  And, God help me, there can be a lot of gods.  We may believe in Saviour, but we cannot – and must not – deny that there’s such a thing as religious freedom.

And I’m a gay rights supporter.  Frankly, I don’t think there should even be a separation of rights.  We’re all humans, and in the heart of all true religions lies one thing – love.  Love as understanding, love as humanitarianism.

And before one bashes another person for their choices (which, I suppose, is not the most appropriate word), one should remember that God loves us all.  That Church accepts us all.

And I believe that God created this planet and all that dwells on it.  But it would be a bit odd for an educated person to deny science, evolution, and the fact that we’re made from the same elements the stars and planets are made out of.

Should I go on?  With my list of confusions?  I guess not.

So how do I find a balance between my religion and my secular beliefs?  How can I write about more serious topics (like the aforementioned gay rights), if most of the time I fail at answering the easier questions.  Like, if I ask my brother to go to the farmer’s market, does that mean that I’m serving him badly?  Do I fall even further behind in becoming a Proverbs 31 woman?

And what do we focus on most, in Proverbs 31?  Is it ‘double clothes’ and ‘beauty’, or is it ‘eager hands’ and industry?

And did you know that Proverbs 31 as a topic is much more popular and discussed between members of the Protestant confessions, than between Orthodox women?  I am yet unsure why, but it’s a fact.

And did you know, Orthodox have a different way of Bible study than Protestant confessions.  I am sure there are a lot of parallels (I mean, we’re studying the Bible, you know), but in general I am not supposed to read Protestant Bible studies.  They give interpretations which are different from those of Orthodoxy.  Same.  But different.

Complicated, isn’t it?

So I am back to my question of balance.  No matter what topic I start with (is it better to spend 15 minutes applying make-up, or should I read a chapter of Genesis instead?  Am I vain in thinking about my clothes, or will my stylish look reflect better on the image on my faith?  Do I spend half an hour cooking a separate ‘fast-approved’ meal for myself, or do I spend that half an hour with my family and eat what’s been cooked by mother instead, even if it’ll be chicken on Wednesday?  Should I abstain from reading anything that’s not God’s word during Lent, or may I allow myself a classic novel?) – there goes the question of balancing.

Is it better to read Our Father with all my heart, or should I stand for 30 minutes, reading out morning rule whilst thinking about my chores list?

Where does repentance end and self-flagellation start?

Where is the fine line between being a warrior in Christ and a mercenary?

How can I carry the Word to others, if I myself am so confused?

Not in Faith.  But in its forms of expression.

I ought to pray for Lord to give me a better understanding.  But recent events in my life taught me to pray for mercy first. 

Anything else might be too much for me to handle at the moment.

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Written by Alexandra

28 July 2012 at 12:27 am

5 Responses

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  1. You carry the word to others by admitting to the struggles. We all struggle to understand the Word and God’s will for our lives. Keep struggling with these things. The struggle is a part of the journey that we are on. (I’m Lutheran, by the way.)

    rainbowheartlove

    28 July 2012 at 4:41 am

    • “You carry the word to others by admitting to the struggles.” I have to admit, I never thought about it this way. Thank you for your kind comment, and a new perspective.

      Alexandra

      28 July 2012 at 7:27 pm

  2. Dear Alexandra,
    I read this post and another one called Feeling Inadequate. There are different seasons in a persons life. Sometimes it is all you can do to get a short prayer out, before you fall asleep. We have all been there. I would like to encourage you to talk to your priest. Your prayer rule is supposed to be short enough that you can do it without fail consistently. Sometimes life takes a turn and your prayer rule needs to be adjusted. When I first became Orthodox I felt like, “I’m just reading God a book.” I would do my prayer rule in fits and starts. I failed to progress for years. In actuality two things were wrong. I never told my priest that I couldn’t handle the typical prayer rule, and I never really let go of resisting reading prayers from a book. It has taken me years to finally realize that learning to pray the “book prayers” is the same as teaching my kids to eat healthy food. They naturally prefer sweets, chips, and carbohydrates, but they’re empty of good nutrition. I have to teach them to eat the nutritious food by repetition and some forcing (issuing a consequence). I still have to force myself to read prayers sometimes, but at least I know that it helps even when I feel like I’m just reading. Therefore, I encourage you to talk to your priest about changing your prayer rule. Ask him what to do when you can’t say it all. Also, tell him your situation and ask him what to do about your fast. Ask both of these things with a heart willing to follow through. If you find that you miss prayers or break the fast, then confess, try again, or maybe even ask the SAME priest to adjust your rule again (he will get to know you, your abilities, and your struggles this way). Do not be afraid to ask your priest about TV, radio, books, and any other question you have. Part of the “balance” is learning not to rely only on yourself or your own opinions.
    Often the problem with some protestant interpretations of the Proverbs 31 woman is the lack of the spiritual interpretation or double meaning. It seems to be frequently taken only literally in protestant circles, without the layers of the spiritual aspect. The proverbs 31 woman was, as I understand it, a prophecy of the Church (as bride) and the Theotokos IN ADDITION to being a model for Christian womanhood. The proverbs 31 woman is by no means only referring to wives and mothers in the physical since or else nuns have no chance to become virtuous women. If you read Proverbs 31 while relating it to the church or the mother of God, you can see it take on new meaning. The husband is Christ (the bridegroom). She (the church, the bride) seeks wool and flax and willingly works with her hands. Wool and flax are used for clothing, it is a covering, it is protection, etc.. She (the church) SEEKS it. She is seeking the good things for her household (not just children…. all members of the body of Christ). She serves others (with her hands…i.e. physically and spiritually). Merchant ships travel far and rough waters to bring back riches. We to must cast out into the deep and seek those things (virtues) that are of great value. These are just my poor examples, but I think you get the idea.
    It sounds as if you are trying to reconcile your idea of feminine to the incomplete protestant reading you’ve done. Womanhood/personhood is so much more broad than that. We are not confined to stiff rules of behavior, jobs, or categories. We acknowledge that women and men are different with different roles and spiritual gifts. All you have to do to be a Proverbs 31 woman is be an Orthodox Christian. Traditionally there are two paths, marriage and monasticism. Most of us need communal living or we become really self-centered. We need the feedback of family to help us correct ourselves. You may not be married, but you are living in a family. You are serving the needs of another not just yourself, you are seeking God, you provide protection and help to those in your household, you are so busy that you are often exhausted. What! Your house doesn’t look like a magazine cover? Seeking outer beauty without also seeking inner beauty is vain. Talk to your priest….in fact, just email him your posts. It lays your struggle out very well. Forgive me for going on for so long, and if any of my words were harsh.

    Dominica

    2 April 2013 at 5:41 am

    • I want to apologise for taking such a long time for reading your comment and replying to it. Your words were very kind and very helpful. I am very thankful.

      Alexandra

      18 June 2013 at 8:02 pm

  3. Thank you for responding at all! No wonder it took you a while; I wrote a book!!!

    Dominica

    19 June 2013 at 5:08 am


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