Entries with tag longing .

Yes, I Read *The Benedict Option*

Recently, one of my friends read Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option and strongly suggested that I do likewise. I was a bit hesitant, to be sure, feeling like I was about to be inundated with political lingo and reasons that the Religious Conservative Right was under siege from the Secular Liberal Left, and frankly - ain’t nobody got time for that.

I have enough problems. I thought. I don’t need to hear all the bad news about how the Church is under attack. And so I wrote it off.

Then I learned that many people I love and respect have been wrestling through Dreher’s work, and so I suddenly felt that perhaps it was time that I give it a go, and so I decided to follow suite, and bought The Benedict Option on Audible.

While a review of Dreher’s book is beyond the scope of this post, I can say that my time with The Benedict Option has awakened something within me: a longing for a truly Christian community. I want to be a part of something bigger than myself, a part of a group of people that are committed to living out the virtues and struggles of the Christian life together.

I think one of the biggest problems I face in my own Christian life is that of isolation. I frequently feel like my spirituality is something that I’m responsible for muscling through on my own, and so I despair. I feel lonely in my striving to follow Christ, and it becomes all too easy to let myself off the hook when it comes to the struggle that is inherent in learning to be a disciple of Christ, of learning to deny myself, take up the cross, and follow Him.

I know that the Church exists as a rampart of faith, a place where we can shore up courage as we learn to battle the passions together, but functionally, it doesn’t really seem like that. For me, it often feels more like a weekly gathering of like-minded people who take refuge in being kind-of-like one another. In part, this is due to the fact that so many of us live so far from our parishes that establishing any kind of day-in-day-out rhythm of life is simply impossible. So each Sunday we come together and return to our individual huts where we are responsible for holding on for another seven days. And frankly, this is simply getting tiring for me.

It’s not that I don’t believe. It’s just that I don’t have the strength to act like it on my own. And so, as I’m reading The Benedict Option, I find myself longing for a community of faith, a community that is dedicated to the teaching of Christ, committed to living out what it is to be a disciple of the Lord.

I don’t mean this as laziness on my part. It’s not that I don’t want to do it on my own. It’s just that I can’t. I get too weighed down by the demands of my daily life: waking up in the middle of the night to a crying baby, waking up again to the demands of a hungry toddler, needing to get ready for work, maintaining a caseload, feeling guilty about not making it to the gym more, and amidst all this, trying to be the perfect husband who helps out around the house as much as possible while having a keen financial plan that will allow us to make a down payment on a house in a year...well, it’s just a lot. Then when someone tells me that I have to say my prayers, spend an hour in silence, and prepare for confession...honestly, those just seem like more things on top of an already very long to-do list.

Again, it’s not that I don’t want to do these things; I simply don’t have the energy on my own.

But I have this imagination that if I were part of a community, a real community of Orthodox Christians where our kids played together after school and we gathered together for evening prayers or reader’s vespers on the regular, somehow this would make it all feel more manageable.

I’m just tired. I’m tired of believing on my own. I’m tired of feeling like I have to keep my head above water by my own effort. I understand that this is an essential component of being a disciple, but it cannot be the entirety of it. If the monks are a part of a community that is committed to prayer as a way of life and the central grounding point of their life together; why shouldn’t lay people in the world want the same thing?

And so, I think I’m going to make this my quest in the next year or so. I want to make an intentional effort to build a community of Christians committed to living out the Gospel. I don’t mean that I simply want more “church events.” I want the Church, the assembled body of believers to be the center of my life so that I may continue to strive to draw near to the Lord with the fear of God, in faith and in love.

Christian is a Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for Y2AM. He is a husband, father, coffee drinker, sandal wearer, podcaster, homebrewer, and CrossFitter. Christian has an MA in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry from Luther Seminary and is a Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. Christian and his family live in Phoenix, Arizona.


And you can support Y2AM even more by becoming a supporter. Your contribution can help us continue the work we’re doing.

Longing for the Right Thing - Pop Culture Espresso Shots

He has made everything beautiful in its time; also he has put eternity into man’s mind, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
           - Ecclesiastes 3:11

Generally, I’m not a fan of Christian music. While many people who came to Orthodoxy out of evangelical Protestant backgrounds may listen to Christian music and dislike it because of the unpleasant taste it has left in their mouths, I dislike it for the simple reason that I have not found many Christian artists who are actually any good. One man alone, however, stands out for me as a talented musician and poetic lyricist: Josh Garrels.

His lyrics are at once challenging and hopeful. He frequently captures the deep longing that I experience as I look at the world around me and ask, “How long, O Lord?”

How long will people kill one another?

How long will people exploit each other?

How long will You wait to come and establish Your Kingdom?

These thoughts that tell us all is not right in the world find beautiful expression in Garrels’ song, “Farther Along.” He sings:

Tempted and tried, I wondered why

The good man dies, the bad man thrives,

And Jesus cries because He loves em’ both.

We’re all cast-aways in need of rope,

Hangin’ on by the last threads of our hope.

In a house of mirrors full of smoke

Confusing illusions I’ve seen.


His lyrics are beset with grief, lament toward the world in which we live. It’s truly baffling even for the Psalmist who almost stumbles in his trust for God upon seeing the “prosperity of the wicked” (Ps. 73:2,3). Yet amidst this confusion, amidst the uncertainty that comes with following Christ, Garrels’ chorus roots us in eschatological confidence in Christ.

Farther along we’ll know all about it.

Farther along we’ll understand why.

So cheer up, my brothers. Live in the sunshine.

We’ll understand this all, by and by.

One day when the sky rolls back on us,

Some rejoice, and the others fuss

‘Cause every knee must bow and tongue confess:

The Son of God is forever blessed.

His is the Kingdom, and we’re the guests,

So put your voice up to the test.

Sing, “Lord, come soon!”

Listening to Garrels actually offers me some relief that I’m not the only person who finds himself waiting for things to get better in eternity. As the Ecclesiastes verse above states, we are made to hope for eternity.

We don’t want things to be like this forever, and somehow, deep inside us, we know they won’t be. We are made for holy longing. And as I listen to the words of Josh Garrels, I feel this longing activated. Even amidst his confidence that the Lord will come again and the Lord will win, Garrels admits that he finds himself “hardpressed on every side/between the Rock and a compromise/like the Truth and pack of lies fighting for my soul.”

Our God-given desire, holy longing given that we might desire Him who is the source of desire, can often be co-opted, led toward sin through the destructive thought pattern of despondency.

Despondency, Fr. Gabriel Bunge writes, is “marked above all by its contradictory character. Everything that is available is hateful to it; everything that is unavailable is desirable.”[1] This leads us to feel restless, distracted, bored. We may be tempted to escape our anger toward the present moment by throwing ourselves into acquiring all kinds of material possessions.

Deep down, what we are afraid of is emptiness. We are afraid that when everything is quiet, when everything is still, we will be confronted with the reality that everything is not okay, and so we do everything we can to run from this.

We throw ourselves into busyness to distract ourselves, filling our calendars with appointments and visits with friends so we never feel the sting of nothingness. We are yoked to our cell phones so that we don’t miss a text or a tweet because we can’t bear our own existential loneliness in the face of this absurd world. Busyness, in all its forms, keeps us from feeling the sharpness of the void we experience every time we hear about another bombing or riot.

We know that things aren’t alright. But perhaps the response to the destructive impulse toward despondency isn’t just busyness. Perhaps, rather, we must learn to be patient. We must learn to wait for God to fulfill His promise that one day the sky will roll back, and every knee will bow and tongue confess that Christ is Lord.

We have been made to long for Christ. Perhaps the difficult call of the Christian is to lean into this longing. To admit that we know things aren’t alright and that they won’t be until Jesus returns. But we have confidence that He is coming again, confidence that should lead us into the world to bear the suffering of those around us, emboldening us to be the light in a world beset by darkness.

We must live in the tension between that which is and that which is to come. So the next time we feel the twinge of longing that the evil one co-opts and causes us to be afraid, let’s instead hold fast to holy longing, looking to Christ and praying with the Spirit and the Church, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”

[1] Gabriel Bunge, trans. Anthony P. Gythiel, Despondency: The Spiritual Teaching of Evagrius Ponticus on Acedia (Crestwood: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2012), p. 66.

Christian is a Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for Y2AM. He is a husband, father, mover, shaker, coffee drinker, sandal wearer, and CrossFitter. Christian has his first MA from Azusa Pacific University in Marriage and Family Therapy and a second MA in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry from Luther Seminary. Christian and his family live in Phoenix, Arizona.


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.


— 5 Items per Page
Showing 2 results.
Sam Williams
Posts: 65
Stars: 0
Date: 10/10/17
Steven Christoforou
Posts: 27
Stars: 0
Date: 10/6/17
Dr. Alexandros K. Kyrou
Posts: 25
Stars: 10
Date: 10/3/17
Rev. Dr. Tony Vrame
Posts: 24
Stars: 1
Date: 9/29/17
Christian Gonzalez
Posts: 75
Stars: 8
Date: 9/20/17
Nicholas Anton
Posts: 5
Stars: 0
Date: 9/1/17
Andrew Calivas
Posts: 3
Stars: 0
Date: 8/22/17
Anthony Constantine Balouris
Posts: 9
Stars: 0
Date: 6/28/17
Maria Pappas
Posts: 25
Stars: 0
Date: 5/12/17
Andrew Romanov
Posts: 8
Stars: 0
Date: 4/27/17