We pulled ourselves together, washed our faces and poured ourselves another cup of coffee. Larry headed off to his man-cave to watch the Georgia-Florida game. So I was wrong before. It wasn’t mid-November, it was the last weekend in October. Rachel, Tessa, and I met at our usual conversation spot – the dining room table. Sipping on our coffee and making small talk, my mind still racing with questions.
Tessa knows me well. She asks me what I’m thinking about because she can tell I’m still troubled. Those same passages of scripture are still bothering me. But I tell myself I’m just not walking in the grace I’ve been given. If I keep telling myself long enough maybe I’ll start to believe it. Rachel speaks up and says she thinks that whoever confesses the name of Jesus will be saved. I speak up and ask what role repentance plays. What is the relationship of the law to grace? She says we’re supposed to live by the law but repentance and grace are there where we fall short. I know all that. I’ve been to church a few times. I want to know what role grace plays when we deliberately break the law. It’s the same she reassures me.
Earlier in the day she’d been talking about absolute truth. She and Tessa had a big discussion about that being the “problem with America”. They had just hours earlier said that the Bible was absolute truth and that people not recognizing it as such and deliberately disobeying the commands found in it was the downfall of the nation. So, again, I ask about adulterers. “Are they going to heaven? That’s pretty deliberate.” “Well, no, not if they don’t ask forgiveness.” “What about liars?” She says the same. “So all they have to do is ask forgiveness? They don’t have to change anything?” Tessa speaks up. “Sure they do, they have to stop having an affair. They have to stop lying. That’s what the Bible says.” “So what about gay people?”, Rachel inquired. “Are you saying they won’t go to heaven?” Tessa says, “Absolutely not! God says that’s an abomination!” I speak up again. “What about people who are remarried? That’s adultery. Are they going to heaven?” Without hesitation Tessa responds, “That’s different. Sure they’re going to heaven. Being gay is a lifestyle and it’s a sin, being married as a heterosexual couple is not a sin.”
That conversation is why I walked away from that table feeling just as guilty, just as depressed and just as alone as when I’d sat down there. I discovered that day that absolute truth was absolutely relative. Even if Tessa didn’t want to admit it. Because the absolute truth is, it’s easy to apply absolute truth to everyone else’s sin. It also started me down a road of wondering if every remarried couple I know is going to hell. Is every homosexual person I know going to hell? Is every liar I know going to hell? Is every addict I know going to hell? Is every person I know that habitually sins going to hell? That’s an awful lot of people, everybody I know. Hell, there won’t be anybody in heaven.
Hell wasn’t reserved for monsters. It was there for regular people just like me. It’s not like I hadn’t known this stuff before. It’s not even like I hadn’t said this stuff before. But had I ever REALLY thought about what that meant? Had I actually ever pictured what it meant for someone to go to hell? Just for not believing exactly the right thing? People who where decent, honest, kind human beings?
That’s when my doubts really flooded in. That coupled with the fact that when I got back home I still felt horrible. I still didn’t think I needed a doctor. I need spiritual healing. I was under Satanic attack, fighting the spiritual battle of my life. Every day after that for a month I got down on my knees in my closet with the door closed, my head covered, my heart crying out to God for forgiveness, for peace, for love. I prayed the armor of God on myself every single day before I walked out the door. I wouldn’t say my prayers aloud in fear that Satan or his demons might hear me. I lost weight, I’d cry at the drop of a hat. All this was just under the surface waiting, begging for an outlet. I kept telling myself, “Get it together, girl. What is wrong with you?”. Still nothing happened. For the first time I realized there was no one on the other end of the line when I cried out to God.
For the background detail to these conversations you can catch up with The Hard Stuff.