3 Questions and 3 Answers with an Orthodox Priest: What if you are 45 and you don't feel the fullness of life?

Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok, the spiritual father of St. Elisabeth Convent answers various questions of the parishioners.

What if you are 45 and you don't feel the fullness of life?

There is a saying, "Better late than never." You are not old: 45 years of age is the period in life when your creativity flourishes. I think you will be able to put your creative powers to use, if only you work hard and wait patiently.

Every person has a different take on what happiness is. This word has a different meaning for each person. A believer thinks that happiness means to be humble, to find the God-inspired peace, and to serve God and one's neighbour. An unbeliever thinks that happiness means satisfying one's desires and needs; being prosperous; living as one pleases. These goals are in total contradiction.

Right now, you have not managed to excel at your occupation, and this is what makes you frustrated, disgruntled, and angry; you would like to achieve something good in your life and to see the fruit of your labour. You needn't do something huge. You can do something small but with love. You don't have to do a lot of things: you can simply do your best to be neat, patient, and work diligently in the place where you are now. Most importantly, you should have good thoughts, a pure heart that is open to other people and filled with peace and love. This is how you will be able to help many people. I know humble people whom you can overlook sometimes but who have so much love and so much vitality! They haven't become famous. Their lives are far from being a colourful kaleidoscope of victories and achievements. They keep working humbly and quietly. They are satisfied with what they've got. They appreciate it, and God dwells inside them. This is truly beautiful.

You want to feel the fullness of life, don't you? Perhaps, it's time to begin thinking of a connection with God, of spiritual development, of growing in trust and faith? Sooner or later, the most precious and close friends and relatives part their ways, the most grandiose projects grow old, and everything we create breaks into pieces. Maybe you'd better look for the happiness within, in your own immortal soul? The most important moment in the life of every believer is his encounter with Christ. Have you had this encounter yet? Are you looking forward to it? Right now, you look at the outer layer of your life. Try looking deeper below the surface.

What do I do if it is hard for me to fast?

There are accommodations for people who suffer from certain health issues. The approach to fasting should be undertaken on an individual basis. You can eat salmon, for example. You won't break your fast with it. It is simply a way to make it easier.

If you worry for your health and feel the need to eat more foods than normally allowed, go to church and ask a priest for his blessing so as not to be conscience-stricken. The Church adheres to the principle of positive changes, as opposed to disruption, and this is also true of our approach to physical health. Of course, you have to fast to a certain extent. For instance, you should abstain from things that you like, from your passions, but it is subject to regulations and depends on our faith, our prayer, and our attitude towards fasting. You must assess your health condition critically. If you fear and doubt, you should eat ordinary non-lenten food but not to be tempted. You should go to a confession and tell your priest about it.

Fasting helps us to fight our sins but it should not ruin our health. You can always find the measure of fasting that will suffice for you. 

Years go by but I don't have a family. What can you do?

This question is asked by many people. We all want something and yearn for something but we donЎЇt receive itЎ However, if one is willing to keep praying and praying and praying for real, God will give him what he asks for. We have seen it happen over and over again. What can you do? Man proposes but the Lord disposes. There might be a sisterhood in your parish, and if there isn't, you can try to establish one. There are orphanages and boarding homes populated with children who don't have parents. It would be great if the faithful visited those children and helped them.

If you have free time and you love children, you can adopt. There are cases where single women adopt orphans. A friend of mine has two children of her own and she adopted a child. The solution to your problem does exist.

If you still hope to get married, you should keep hoping and praying. There is a sister in our Sisterhood who found a husband at the age of 40+, and they have a wonderful life together as a family.

We often start grudging, become sad and embittered, sullen and angry. That's wrong. God gives us what we need. We don't value it enough sometimes. We don't accept it and try to build a life as we please, and it always leads to unsatisfactory results. Therefore, find support in God, find the source of power in prayer, in the Sacraments of Confession and Communion, struggle with depression and lack of faith. Sooner or later you will have to part with all earthly and transient things. This is why we, especially as we grow older, begin to think of our immortal souls, begin to learn to pray and to live with God. It requires a lot of time and effort. I would like to wish you peace in your soul so that you wouldn't doubt God's love.

December 21, 2017

St. Elisabeth Convent