July 4, 2010 started off as a typical Sunday. I muddled through the service, as I had the last few months. It wasn't until after it was all over that I stood up in front of everybody to make my announcement. It went pretty much how I expected it to. I told them where I was going and why, tears were shed, and we talked for about an hour and a half. They understood my need to "search" even though it hurt to let me go. We parted as friends. It was pretty evident that Friendship Church of Christ couldn't carry on, at least not at that time. As of this writing, it still hasn't resumed services.
The extreme stress of the night before didn't affect me much that day, but the day after was another story. I had the day off due to the holiday, so I went down to Jacksonville to help a fellow parishioner with computer troubles. Sometime during the trip I felt some numbness in my right hand. That had happened before, but this time it wouldn't go away like it normally did. I thought at first that it was just circulation getting cut off, but it became obvious after a while that this wasn't one of my typical episodes. Eventually it turned into pretty much full-blown numbness on the right side of my body. I'm no stranger to stress (anxiety issues abound, and work's been crazy lately), but this had me really worried. A few months, two MRIs and one spinal tap later, I was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis. In the meantime, however, other things were developing that would, at least in the short term, disturb me even more.
I knew that I couldn't (and shouldn't) keep my journey to Orthodoxy a secret forever, but finding the right time and place to tell family about my decision was going to be tough. I allowed myself a bit of time after leaving Friendship so I could recover and gather my wits. As with Friendship, I knew there was no easy way to do this. To be honest, I was scared. By now it was mid-August, and the Dormition was coming up. This was the day I was to become a catechumen, and due to a minor emergency, Mom was going to be in town around that time. I was not yet ready, but I had run out of time. In the interest of privacy I will not go into specifics, but it was a stressful situation, to say the least. Though it's an understatement to say that it has put a strain on familial relationships, I think in the last several months things have improved. I still love my family dearly, and hate that this has caused so much distress (on both sides). And yet I can't simply give this up. It's just not that simple. Nor, I suppose, should it be.
We have continued to attend at Holy Trinity and have really become close with the people there. Eventually my wife and kids joined the catechumenate as well. We are continuing to grow in the faith, and I don't know if I've ever just enjoyed being there as much as I have. There are days I would rather be within those walls than anywhere else. It hasn't been easy; doubts still arise and fears still dismay. But on the whole, I've never felt as good about my spiritual path as I have these last several months. The transformation has been phenomenal, and I look forward to what's to come.
So, there you go. That's my story. Took far too long to tell, due not only to difficulties I sometimes have with writing (especially given the subject matter) and productivity (I'm lazy; I admit it) but also to my aforementioned health issues. But I'm done, and I guess it's time to leave the past and look to the present and future.