Trapped Between War and Nationalism: the Precarious Situation of Millions on the Move

 

Imagine you’re sitting at home on a peaceful Wednesday evening, relaxing after a long day at your medical practice. Your children are working on their homework and your husband grades his university students’ papers. Suddenly you hear bombs in the distance, perhaps 2-3 miles away. You recognize that sound; it’s the extremist group you hoped would never arrive at your doorstep. Not only your government but the world’s “great powers” said they wouldn’t let this happen. You’ve heard stories from neighboring villages of how they enslave the women and children, kill the men, and force the boys to fight – all coerced by violence and drugs. Convert or die! Join or be enslaved! If you don’t flee, these are your only choices. Pandemonium ensues as you and your family stuff backpacks with the bare minimum to survive and set out to escape what would otherwise be hell on earth. You drive your car as far as you can safely go and continue your journey on foot. Fear, which has motivated you all the while, drives you to spare no expense, paying smugglers and foregoing your dignity. Along the long journey, you and your family are extorted, threatened, and generally maltreated. Finally, after many months and great risks, you reach Greece. You collapse on the ground as humanitarian aid workers flock to your side. A few days of rest later, you begin the arduous process of seeking asylum – something international law has declared a given in your circumstance. But soon you realize that while you cannot stay in your own country for fear of death and slavery, you are also not welcome anywhere else in the world. The global citizen fears you. Though a very general and mild account, this picture is the reality described to me by those on the move.

Having a clear picture in your mind’s eye of what it is like for refugees, hopefully a little data and current international policy happenings will be easily consumed. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that nearly 100 million people – or 1.4% of the world’s population – are currently caught up in aforesaid situation. Therefore in September 2016, “[t]he UN General Assembly [convened] a high-level summit to address large movements of refugees and migrants, with the aim of bringing countries together behind a more humane and coordinated approach,” which resulted in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The Declaration “contains bold commitments both to address the issues we face now and to prepare the world for future challenges.” The main take away is that the UN General Assembly has agreed to create two global compacts – common principles and approaches to a particular issue that all participants commit to implement: 1) the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration and 2) the global compact on refugees. Both are to be adopted in 2018.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America was involved in the negotiations for the New York Declaration and remains involved in the negotiations for the global compacts, advocating for the following:

Equal emphasis on bringing peace to the origin of mass migration by ending global conflicts, particularly manifest in the Middle East and Africa, as well as providing humanitarian aid to all those on the move indiscriminate of race, religion, or any other factors.

Asylum hearings in a timely manner and the granting of asylum to anyone fleeing from the persecution of war in accordance with Article 14.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which sates, “everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”

Immediate and urgent provisions for the care of unaccompanied minor migrants and refugees, including but not limited to special housing, integrated education, pediatric healthcare, and reunification services.

Reallocation of resources, financial and otherwise, to countries and civil society organizations on the front lines of the refugee crisis.

But what does it all mean? Will this really have an impact? As with all international policy, global compacts are soft law which means there’s no mechanism to keep Member States accountable. In other words, adherence to the agreed principles and approaches is voluntary and, therefore, the success of the global compacts remains in the hands of each individual nation. Subsequently, in democratic countries, the outcome remains with each and every one of us. It is our responsibility and right to push our national, regional, and local governments to implement and adhere to the agreed terms of the global compact. When engaging in this way, the following are some points to keep in mind:

Before taking a position on the matter, reach out and befriend immigrants in your local neighborhood that began their journeys as refugees. As the late Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras often said, “come let us look one another in the eyes,” before engaging in “business” matters. In other words, it is important to develop relationships with people before attempting to influence laws that will affect their lives.

Thoroughly research the issue via primary and accredited academic sources. Unfortunately, most news sources today are polarized, reporting opinionated facts rather than pure facts. Therefore, they aren’t reliable sources of information.

Call and write your representatives – at the national, state, and local levels – encouraging them to propose legislation in line with international laws and standards regarding migrants and refugees. This will be particularly important in the fall of 2018 once the global compacts are finalized and ratified.

Finally, I’ll leave you with the encouragement of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Pope Francis, and Archbishop Ieronymos from their Joint Declaration at the Mòria Refugee Camp in Lesvos, Greece: “Together we solemnly plead for an end to war and violence in the Middle East, a just and lasting peace and the honourable return of those forced to abandon their homes. We ask religious communities to increase their efforts to receive, assist and protect refugees of all faiths, and that religious and civil relief services work to coordinate their initiatives.”

 

#refugeecrisis #refugees #PopeFrancis #EcumenicalPatriarchBartholomew #UN4RefugeesMigrants #UN4refugees #UN4migrants

 

“Hagia Sophia: Turkey’s Ottoman Icon”

It is no small irony that across the globe the edifice and image most widely associated with Turkey, Istanbul, and even perhaps Islam, is a sixth-century Orthodox Christian church—the magisterial Cathedral of Hagia Sophia, or “Holy Wisdom.” Built by some 10,000 workers between 532 and 537, its patron, Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, inaugurated the construction of Hagia Sophia in the imperial capital of Constantinople with the proclamation that the Church of the Holy Wisdom would be a cathedral like “one that has never existed since Adam’s time, and one that will never exist again.”

Remarkably, Justinian’s boastful claims proved to be as correct as they were visionary. For virtually a millennium, Hagia Sophia was Christendom’s largest, most revered and awe-inspiring church. Hagia Sophia was the unrivalled ecclesial hearth of the Christian Church before the Western schism, the physical epicenter of the Orthodox Christian world, and the wondrous, breathtaking symbol of Byzantine grandeur and purpose. Indeed, for both contemporaries and historians, Hagia Sophia constituted the greatest achievement of late ancient and medieval architecture, an enduring masterpiece that embodied Byzantine civilization’s quintessential, sophisticated respect and quest for symphony and balance between the ethereal and the physical, majesty and beauty, place and boundlessness, science and mystery, creative genius and humility. Despite Hagia Sophia’s present diminished and abused condition, it is not difficult for even today’s visitor to appreciate the description found in a famous Russian ambassadorial report sent from Constantinople in 987 to Vladimir, Prince of Kiev, of what one encountered upon entering the great cathedral: “We did not know where we were, on heaven or on earth.”

When Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, virtually all of the city’s surviving cathedrals and churches were—after being desecrated and thoroughly plundered—forcibly seized and turned over to the Turks’ religious establishment to be converted to mosques and used as Muslim properties. The conquering sultan, Mehmet II, personally oversaw the conversion of Hagia Sophia. Crosses were demolished and exchanged for crescents, altars and bells were destroyed, icons were burned or hacked to pieces, mosaics and frescoes depicting Christian imagery were plastered over, and most of the cathedral’s priests were killed or enslaved. In time, four colossal minarets were erected to surround Hagia Sophia, producing the iconic image that has come to be globally associated with Ottoman Constantinople and Turkish Istanbul.

Mehmet took great satisfaction in his belief that he had fulfilled Mohammed’s prophecy articulated in the Hadith: “Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will her leader be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!” Thereafter, Constantinople and Hagia Sophia represented for the Ottoman Turks much more than merely their empire’s capital and preeminent mosque, respectively. The conquest of Christianity’s greatest city and church was understood by Mehmet and his successors as divine proof of the leading role in the Muslim world to which the Ottoman Empire was entitled, a belief also manifested by the Turks’ subsequent relocation of the Islamic Caliphate to Constantinople.

Indeed, the purpose for the construction of the massive minarets that now tower over Hagia Sophia was to project to the world Islam’s triumph over Christendom’s greatest empire, city, and church. The capture of Hagia Sophia confirmed and symbolized in the Ottomans’ imagination their belief in the superiority of their state and faith over all other nations and all religions, a putative affirmation of their providential role and destiny in history. Hence, the Ottomans formally dedicated their greatest, most celebrated single piece of loot—Hagia Sophia—as Great Fatih Mosque, or “Great Conquest Mosque.”

Despite the Turks’ conviction that their mastery over the great, coveted prizes of Constantinople and Hagia Sophia signaled their inevitable conquest of the remainder of Christian Europe, the Ottoman state showed signs of weakness by the sixteenth century and by the seventeenth century began a long, miserable decline and recession that culminated in the complete dissolution of their empire in the early twentieth century. Led by the Turkish nationalist, Mustafa Kemal, the Republic of Turkey, which emerged in the early 1920s to succeed the Ottoman Empire and to abolish the Caliphate, was premised on secularism. Kemal’s modern Turkey was a rejection of the Islamic theocratic system that he and his modernizing nationalists held responsible for the collapse of the old Ottoman order.

Kemalist Turkey did not, however, decouple Islam from its nation-building project. The Kemalist state’s efforts to create a homogeneous Turkish society included assigning a prominent role to Islam as a defining cultural feature of Turkish national identity, or “Turkishness.” In short, official “secularism” involved the use of Islam by the state as an instrument to impose conformity to a uniform model of “Turkishness.”

In modern Turkey secularism has produced neither freedom for all faiths nor separation of church and state. Instead, Turkish secularism has meant state control of religion through the official policy carried out by the Diyanet (the State Directorate of Religious Affairs, the governmental institution responsible for regulating and directing Islam in Turkish society). Likewise, the Kemalists’ non-Western, non-democratic version of secularism has also meant that Turkey’s non-Islamic religions and communities, inasmuch as they are regarded as impediments to universal “Turkishness,” are to be viewed with suspicion, treated with hostility, and subjected to a policy of steady, systematic persecution, with the goal being their final elimination.

Symbols and symbolism were, of course, very important to the Kemalist nation-building project. It was, consequently, neither a surprise nor a move that produced any resistance when Mustafa Kemal, presiding over Turkey’s one-party “secular democracy,” closed Hagia Sophia to Muslim worship in 1931 and reopened the historic structure as a museum in 1935. Just as Sultan Mehmet in the fifteenth century appreciated the symbolism of converting Hagia Sophia, the grandest of Christian cathedrals, to a Muslim Ottoman mosque for the furtherance of his imperial ambitions, President Kemal in the 1930s understood the symbolic value of transforming Hagia Sophia from a mosque—the quintessential iconographic symbol of the Ottoman Islamic past—to a Turkish museum for the advancement of his modern secular nation-building project at home and for the promotion of his country’s image abroad.

The second part, and conclusion of this essay, which explores the recent political and religious uses of Hagia Sophia by the current post-Kemalist, Islamist government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is forthcoming under the title “Hagia Sophia: Turkey’s Neo-Ottoman Icon.”

Dr. Alexandros K. Kyrou is Professor of History at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts, where he teaches on the Balkans, Byzantium, and the Ottoman Empire.

All In Our Perspective

Choosing to live each day as an Orthodox Christian involves being willing to see the world differently, to have a different perspective than we might want to initially.

 

When I went off to college, I became acutely aware that I was probably the only Orthodox Christian most of my friends would ever meet. This realization made me more sensitive to how I presented myself, how I spoke about the Church, and how I represented Christ. I knew that something should be different about me as a Christian; after all, Jesus tells us “you are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). At times that felt like an unrealistic expectation, like something I would just never live up to.

 

But as I worked to balance being an Orthodox Christian and still present in the world, I saw that the Church helps to cultivate a unique way of seeing the world and the issues I face. It helps me to discern how I can bring a bit of light into my relationships, if only I can have a change of perspective.

 

Though we might be inclined towards being judgemental or distrusting, Christ calls us to look instead at ourselves and to first question our own prejudices.  We’re called to “not be conformed to this world, but [to] be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

 

So what are some ways that Orthodox Christians are called to have this transformation and renewal of our mind? How does the Church give us this change in our perspective?

 

1. Looking past the bad to find the good

 

The world can feel like a really negative place sometimes. Whether it’s on a national level during and after an election season or on a more personal level after being hurt by someone, it’s hard to stay positive. But unless we struggle with depression, we really do have a choice to look toward the good instead of focusing on the bad.

 

I was reminded of this choice to change my perspective as we celebrated the life of Saint Paisios last week. By the way, this is the saint who inspired Y2AM to create Be the Bee! His words really speak to us today as we struggle with the negativity we see each day:

Some people tell me that they are scandalized because they see many things wrong in the Church. I tell them that if you ask a fly, “Are there any flowers in this area?” it will say, “I don’t know about flowers, but over there in that heap of rubbish you can find all the filth you want.” And it will go on to list all the unclean things it has been to.Now, if you ask a honeybee, “Have you seen any unclean things in this area?” it will reply, “Unclean things? No, I have not seen any; the place here is full of the most fragrant flowers.” And it will go on to name all the flowers of the garden or the meadow.You see, the fly only knows where the unclean things are, while the honeybee knows where the beautiful iris or hyacinth is.

 

As I have come to understand, some people resemble the honeybee and some resemble the fly. Those who resemble the fly seek to find evil in every circumstance and are preoccupied with it; they see no good anywhere. But those who resemble the honeybee only see the good in everything they see. The stupid person thinks stupidly and takes everything in the wrong way, whereas the person who has good thoughts, no matter what he sees, no matter what you tell him, maintains a positive and good thought. (“Good and Evil Thoughts,” Spiritual Counsels III: Spiritual Struggle)

 

So whether the bad I see is in the Church, in my relationships, or in our society, I have a decision to make today. Will I be like a bee and direct my attention toward the good, remembering to live with gratitude and to give thanks even in trying times, or will I be like the fly and focus on my doubts and the specks of bad in my life?

 

2. Living in a Non-Orthodox world

 

Being an Orthodox Christian in the United States brings its own challenges. As a minority faith, we often struggle being either overly prideful of our faith or we essentially hide it. We focus either on all that separates us from others, or we gloss over the differences. We try to stand out or we try to blend in.

 

All of this juggling can make us distrustful of the outside world, including the political and educational landscape around us. We might be tempted to isolate ourselves into Orthodox bubbles, content with ignoring the non-Orthodox around us. But is that a reasonable response when we look at the Church Fathers? Here’s what St Gregory the Theologian has to say about secular education:

I take it as admitted by men of sense that the first of our advantages is education...even that external culture which many Christians ill-judgingly abhor, as treacherous and dangerous, and keeping us afar from God. For as we ought not to neglect the heavens, and earth, and air, and all such things, because some have wrongly seized upon them, and honor God's works instead of God: but to reap what advantage we can from them for our life and enjoyment, while we avoid their dangers...so from secular literature we have received principles of inquiry and speculation, while we have rejected their idolatry, terror, and pit of destruction. Nay, even these have aided us in our religion, by our perception of the contrast between what is worse and what is better, and by gaining strength for our doctrine from the weakness of theirs. We must not then dishonor education, because some men are pleased to do so, but rather suppose such men to be boorish and uneducated, desiring all men to be as they themselves are, in order to hide themselves in the general, and escape the detection of their want of culture. (St Gregory the Theologian on St Basil the Great, Oration 43:11)

 

In the early centuries of the Church, before and after it was first legalized, Christians were wary of the outside world. They were scared they'd be negatively influenced and thus become pagans. But instead of rejecting outright what his people were wary of, St Gregory directed them to have a change of perspective. We too can find good in our secular society today. It just takes the work of discernment, and the trust that God truly can redeem and even transfigure the world.

 

3. Sin and temptation

 

A major perspective change that the Church works to inspire in us is in how we view temptation, sin, and repentance. Instead of viewing the Church in terms of some grand court tribunal, the Church views itself as a hospital with Jesus being our doctor. That means that sin is not a broken law, but rather a disease that needs healing. And as a consequence, repentance and the live of the Christian are seen as part of a life-long process of healing and transformation.

 

Our Orthodox vision of sin and repentance is one thing which makes so much sense to me that I mention it when others ask why I’m an Orthodox Christian. When my sin and brokenness stops being about me being a bad person and becomes more of an opportunity to grow closer to Christ, I have less reason to despair. With a new perspective, I see potential instead of failure. When I see that I’m not alone when a temptation comes, but that I can call out to Jesus to save and strengthen me, I see that I don’t fight alone. Or as Saint Porphyrios might say, I don’t need to fight at all; I just need to run toward Christ. This is a change in perspective that I need on a daily, hourly, moment-by-moment basis.

 

After all, repentance itself is about having a change of mind, a change of heart, a change of perspective. Instead of continuing forward as I had been, I take a new direction which leads me towards Jesus.

 

*****

 

The Christian life is a life of transformation, of continually putting off the old man and choosing to live for Christ. As we participate in the sacraments regularly, our perspective changes and we start to see the world through the eyes of Christ. This perspective change is what some refer to as the Orthodox worldview or the Orthodox phronema. Being a Christian is fundamentally about a change in our perspective: a willingness to live a life radically devoted to Christ and neighbor. This requires of me more than a simple improvement in my personal ethics, but a total transformation of who I am as a person in relation to others. This comes about as I start to see the world with a new perspective, as through new eyes: to look for the good instead of the bad, to see potential in our non-Orthodox world, and to see opportunities even in my own temptations.

 

How is God trying to bring about a change in perspective in your life? What struggles are you facing and how can they help you better encounter Christ?

 

Want more from Y2AM? Subscribe to our email list and get weekly tips for your spiritual life every Monday! And you can support Y2AM even more by becoming a monthly Patreon supporter. As little as $1 a month can help us continue the work we’re doing.

 

Sam is the Pastoral Assistant at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He grew up in Powhatan, Virginia and studied International Affairs and Spanish at James Madison University. Sam received his MDiv from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2013. He loves food, languages, genealogy, and good coffee.

Photo Credit: depositphotos

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MDGs, SDGs, and HLPF: What does it all mean?

“Planets are spherical and spin at high speeds in elliptical shaped orbits.” Believe it or not, there was a point in history when, despite the empirical scientific evidence, some people denied this fact. Today, scientific evidence is clear that human consumption and pollution patterns are utterly unsustainable and destroying the planet. While some remain in selective denial, particularly those who find sustainable production less than profitable, the vast majority of the world – nearly all 195 United Nations Member States in fact – are taking the scientific data seriously and making a valiant effort to protect people and planet.

The connection between the environment and development really finds its foundation at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. Some years later, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established to eradicate poverty through development with an ambitious goal of “by 2015.” While successful in many ways, the MDGs fell short in ensuring sustainability and human rights protections. Therefore, at the UN Rio+20 conference in 2012, Member States committed to coming up with a new plan that would take a more inclusive and holistic approach to poverty eradication, development, and environment, with an extended goal of “by 2030.”

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was fashioned in two stages from 2012-2015 – in a process known as the post-2015 negotiations – and was officially adopted in September 2015. The seventeen goals, accompanied by a strong political declaration and commitments to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and Addis Ababa Action Agenda, sets out, in the most ambitious way thus far, to tackle the tension between development, environment, and sustainability in order to eradicate poverty while safeguarding creation.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has been involved in the process from the very beginning, supporting the notion of poverty eradication and creation care through sustainable consumption and production. Most recently, the Archdiocese successfully advocated for the inclusion of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation (HRTWS) in the political declaration of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The inclusion of HRTWS language rather than simply “access to” this common good means water should remain a public good, controlled by the people as opposed to private corporations or businesses. Furthermore, the Archdiocese continues to be involved in the implementation and review phase through the High-Level Panel on Water and the High-Level Political Forum.

I realize this post is content heavy. But if you’re still with me, it’s finally time for a simple, practical way you can do your part to make the world a more sustainable, equitable place.  First, focus on your own consumption patterns and understand that “humanity's power over nature must be exercised with moderation, justice and compassion.” In order to properly understand your own consumption pattern, consider how what you consume – electronics, fuel, food, water, clothing, etc. – affects other people, even those living across the globe. Furthermore, I encourage you to exercise your duty to be a responsible citizen. Pressure your local, regional, and national governments to pass legislation in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. When, in order to love our neighbors as ourselves, each of us lives a selfless and moderate life, the outcome will be a sustainable planet free of poverty.

 

#HLPF2017 #HLPF #GlobalGoals #2030Agenda #SDGs #MDGs #Rio+20 #LoveYourNeighbor #HRTWS #ParisAgreement

 

[1] More to come on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation in a future blog post.

[2] Olivier Clément, Conversations with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1997), p. 107.

[3] Mark 12:31

Help! I’m a People-Pleaser

Confession: I am a people-pleaser. As a child, I didn’t want to disappoint my parents or teachers. In friendships, I’ve always been the one who worries if I’ve upset someone. And in my relationship with God, I battle the fear that I’m not doing enough to grow closer to Him. Being a people-pleaser for me is worrying about or trying to make everyone happy with me. And it’s so tiring precisely because this goal is impossible to achieve.

 

And though I mean well - I tell myself I do these things because I value my relationships - at the root of my people-pleasing are several issues that actually hinder the relationships I’m so valiantly trying to protect.

 

1. Control

 

When I worry about keeping the peace around me, there is an underlying assumption on my part that peace depends on me. When I worry about the thoughts and concerns of others, I’m hoping that I can change what they think or what they are concerned about. What I see then is that my people-pleasing is an issue of control; specifically, it’s a fear of losing control over the world around me.

 

No one likes to feel out of control. No one likes to feel that others are controlling them. So instead, we take the reins and try to insure that others are happy. Oddly enough, our sense of control is controlled by others. And ultimately, our trying to manage our world leaves us feeling anxious and out of control.

 

The good news is that we have a God who is all-powerful and who is able to bring peace into our worried lives. What we need is to recognize that trying to control our lives doesn’t work because we’re really powerless over these things. God, on the other hand, is not. We can get past our people-pleasing by abandoning ourselves to God and letting Him guide us instead of us trying to control all of the minutia around us.

 

2. Validation

 

Behind our desire to be in control of our lives is an aching desire to be accepted and validated. We worry what others think about us and this causes us anxiety and stress. Our sense of identity is so wrapped up in others’ lives because we fail to keep proper boundaries in our relationships. We don’t want to hurt others feelings, we don’t want to be disliked, we don’t want to feel judged. We listen to the lies we tell ourselves instead of listening to and seeking out our validation from God.

 

It isn’t before our friends or parents that we are going to have to give account of our lives, it is before Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:13).

 

We’re so used to trying to earn others approval, we might even try to earn His, too. Jesus teaches us to not to live our lives trying to prove ourselves and our righteousness (Matthew 6:1-6,16). As Christians, we have no need to seek out acceptance from the world around us. “You have died,” Saint Paul tells us, “and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Despite our imperfections, God has reconciled Himself to us and has adopted us as His own (Colossians 1:22; Ephesians 1:5).

 

3. Fear

 

If I’m trying to control my relationships by keeping the peace, and I’m looking for validation in others, then fear is probably motivating my actions. I’m afraid of being alone or afraid of being rejected, and therefore I try to keep others happy. I might be afraid to be assertive or to hurt others feelings because I can’t handle the rejection that might come from it. But really, how can one truly live a life motivated by this sort of fear?

 

There are different sorts of fear in our lives. On the one hand, there’s the fear of God that we experience when we recognize we are in the presence of the Living God. But then there’s the fear of discomfort and the fear of dealing with life that keeps us running from life by living in fear. Instead of living our lives motivated by fear of losing our relationships (with people or with God), we are called to live according to the self-sacrificial love of Christ, our God who is love (Ephesians 5:25; 1 John 4:8).

 

*****

 

Recently, I found a fun article called “The Definition Of Hell For Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type." According to the article, the worst imaginable thing for a person of my Myers-Briggs type, ESFJ, was that, “Someone you love is in dire need of practical help and you can’t give it to them. Worse yet, they think you’re refusing to help them out of pettiness and they’re mad at you.” Well, that’s spot on! It’s almost as if being a people-pleaser is wrapped up in how I’m wired to interact with others.

 

Though it might take work to stop being a people-pleaser, it’s even harder to try to make everyone else happy. If this is something we struggle with, we will need to work to see how we are motivated by a desire to be in control, by a need for validation, and by fear. Instead of trying to control our world, we will recognize that God is better at running the world than we are. Instead of looking to be validated by others or to prove ourselves, we will seek out a stronger relationship with God.

 

And instead of fear, we will live motivated by love.

 

In what ways do you struggle with trying to make others happy? Is this something you’re willing to change with God’s help?

 

 

Want more from Y2AM? Subscribe to our email list and get weekly tips for your spiritual life every Monday! And you can support Y2AM even more by becoming a monthly Patreon supporter. As little as $1 a month can help us continue the work we’re doing.

 

Sam is the Pastoral Assistant at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He grew up in Powhatan, Virginia and studied International Affairs and Spanish at James Madison University. Sam received his MDiv from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2013. He loves food, languages, genealogy, and good coffee.

Photo Credit: depositphotos

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