Welcome to MyOrthodoxFamily.com! Tell us who you are.
Hello! I am so excited about this project and am enjoying reading everyone’s stories. I am Sarah, a wife, mother, psychotherapist, and writer. I grew up mostly in New England, spending my early childhood and every summer through adulthood under the Georgian (US) sun visiting family. I was raised as an Orthodox Christian and have attended parishes that were mostly Greek, mostly Russian, and a mix of converts and ethnicities. Today, I attend a ROCOR church and am so grateful for the love and care I found in the church throughout my life. I met my two closest friends at church when we were girls and I am so blessed to have them in my life now, as Orthodox women, even though we no longer live close to one another. I currently live in the Northeastern part of the United States with my husband and our three daughters. We have a little flock of chickens and recently brought a puppy into our family. With our altered work and school schedules due to Covid-19, life is more intimate and way more chaotic at times. I like to cook, read, play, dance, make art, refinish furniture, and spend time with my family. I believe we were made to be in connection with the natural world, and taking care of ourselves in a holistic way – body, mind, and spirit – is important and helpful on our path towards union with God. To this end, I try my best to care for family and myself in this way.
What do you most enjoy sharing? What do you feel most called to share?
Domestic life and motherhood comprised the bulk of my existence over the past ten years. I had my first daughter 9 weeks before we made an international move from Germany back to the United States in 2010. Leaving my job, home, and friends to begin a new life was a rough start to motherhood. Over the past ten years, we have found a new community, grown a family and our careers. During this time I learned a lot, struggled a lot, and found my faith to be the rock that sustains me. I enjoy sharing about all of this, in joy, laughter, and pain, in the hope that my words may help someone else on their own journey. My writing often involves weaving my professional training as a therapist, my faith, and my life experience together. I enjoy sharing about small moments, big feelings, and where I’ve struggled and made it to the other side, or where I am still a work in progress.
Through much of my life, I felt like an anomaly as a person of faith. I went to public school and live in a community of people with varying beliefs. Most of my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances (outside of my immediate family and church communities) do not share my faith. Friends with differing beliefs have told me how they appreciate that I do not judge them, yet am strong in my own faith. It is a great sadness to me how the American Christian identity has evolved, where Christians are often viewed as prejudiced and hateful. I believe that Eastern Christian thought has a lot to offer our struggling country. I hope to help open up what it means to be a Christian in our modern world, how the love and message of Christ can heal and can lead us to do the amazing, heroic, and sacrificial for each other. I want to share that God is love and that we are called to love one another, even in our differences. I’m still figuring out how to do this exactly, but I’m hopeful. I love the song, “The proof of your love” by For King & Country. I know I am far from letting my life be the proof of God’s love, or always loving as He does, but I aspire to it.
The world of social media is complex. What do you see as difficult and as redemptive about sharing your journey in this way?
I’m fairly private and still getting used to the idea of sharing more openly and frequently. Anything posted online is effectively being shared with the world, and that is daunting to me. I am afraid of being misinterpreted or of striking the wrong chord. This is a challenge, and I feel able to answer it by going slowly. My online and social media time is limited in part by choice and in part because I have my hands full with caring for my home and family. I am not able to keep up with posting and the speed that conversations or threads evolve, so I mostly just jump in where and when I can. I often think of ideas to post or write about and then never get to sit down and do it.
As I get older, I am much more settled in myself and in my life. As I’ve grown, I trust my writing voice more. I’ve learned so much from others sharing their interests, struggles, and joys, and I see that I might have something to add that can help someone else. I pray this is the case!
What is your earliest, distinctly Orthodox memory?
After searching for a spiritual home, my father found Orthodoxy. He prayed my mother would join him, and she did. They were baptized when she was pregnant with me. and I was baptized shortly after my birth. My family went through a lot of transitions, but throughout it we always attended church. We went to an English-speaking church that was a mix of converts and ethnicities. My church was my second home and family. I went through some difficult events as I grew, and the church provided me with great love and stability.
I don’t have one earliest memory of being Orthodox, more bits and pieces, with an undercurrent of fragrant incense, candlelight, and a sense of peace and calm. From my childhood, I remember playing tag after coffee hour, joyous feasts with tables laden with festive foods, coming into the dark church on Pascha waiting to hear the glorious call of “Christ is Risen” trumpet through the air and lighting our candles one by one as we passed the light of Christ. Processions, prostrations, the fragrance of holy oil, and the warm, comforting, and sweet taste of communion are seated deep in my sense memory. I remember the anxiety of going to confession as a teenager and the euphoric relief afterwards. I remember praying in church, weeping in church, laughing in church, and talking in church which once led to being reprimanded by my Priest during his sermon:). Today, each time I enter the church, I am met with the familiar smell of incense and beeswax giving me a sense of peace and timelessness in my soul that lets me know I am home.
What do you hope will be the mark you leave on the world as you pass through it?
Hope and comfort. I don’t need to leave a mark, but rather a day-by-day offering of hope and comfort that helps to grow love. In this small way I wish to make the world better for one person, then two people that will lead to ten people feeling hopeful and loving others, who love others, who give hope and comfort to more and more people. This is my wish, to help in this way.