the struggle

by Andrea Elizabeth

If the problem, according to Orthodox Interventions, is the western juridical paradigm with a focus on will, then this will explain the frustration with, among other things, relapse into addiction. Firstly the juridical paradigm says that all who behave a certain way are condemned, therefore you have to will to change and stop yourself. The grace alone people believe this will be automatic if not unnecessary, but some people think that is fantasy. The works people think you can do it. Regardless, with the juridical paradigm, if you don’t stop yourself (with miraculous help or not) then you are condemned to hell. This all seems very works focused.

If the eastern approach is different, why do we talk so much about struggle? As Archimandrite Dr. Andrew mentioned, same words can have different meanings in different paradigms. If it isn’t about a struggle to will and do, then maybe it’s about struggling to just be. I’m reminded of St. Maximus’ “ever moving rest” as well as his teaching that human nature is basically good. Therefore relaxing is about being naturally good. But we are in a habit of being intent on the wrong things – independence from God. If one is blissfully ignorant about their sin, then they are not struggling. When one realizes things have gone too far, then they start to struggle, and if already addicted, tend to fail. It is like the thrashing of a drowning man who has gone in over his head. But if one quits struggling and assumes the right posture, they can float effortlessly on their back. The struggle becomes an effort to not thrash and cling desperately to those trying to help, which makes them slap you into unconsciousness. Struggling not to struggle is to learn faith. But do you become a dumb bob on the water? Maybe so, but it’s better than struggling with addiction. Instead you just look up at the sun and notice nice things about it.

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