Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


Conversations Around the Dining Room Table

For some reason women tend to gather around the dining room table to chat.  Something seems familial about it.  So there we sat, the three of us like sisters, with our big mugs. Steam rising from the heat of the fresh coffee, each of us blowing to cool it so we could take a sip.

It was mid-November and I was still steeped in belief.  Reading scripture only made me feel guilty about my divorce. It was only getting worse and I was going pretty deep into depression and self-condemnation, having panic attacks about going to hell.  This was certainly not normal for me.  I’m normally level-headed and rational.  I can usually figure out how to turn the lemons into lemonade.  And if I can’t, well just add some vodka and it’ll all be okay.  That just wasn’t happening this time.

That’s where the conversation started.  Rachel called her husband in and the three of them began trying to expound on God’s grace to me.  They weren’t telling me anything I didn’t know.  I just didn’t feel it.  I could get no relief.  I knew I had done what I had to do, but it was in no way satisfying.  I knew in my mind I hadn’t committed the unpardonable sin, but I also knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life alone.  Remarriage was adultery.  I’d researched it as much as I knew how to.  I know what the Early Church Fathers have to say about the matter.  I know what John Piper has to say about the matter. I know what David Instone-Brewer has to say about it.  And I know what they’ve had to say to each other about it.

The fact is remarriage is adultery according to scripture, the New Testament anyway.  Adulterers do not inherit the kingdom of God.  Mind you I’m having this conversation with two women who have been divorced and remarried.  They ask me if I’m telling them they’re going to hell?  I tell them I don’t know.  I can hardly see how they would be destined for hell.  Neither one of them were saved at the time of the divorces and remarriages.  “But”, I tell them, “don’t google this question”.  With good reason I say this.

They decide what I need is deliverance.  So the three of them anoint me with oil, place their hands on me, and begin to pray.  I’d never been party to a “laying on of hands” like this before.  Larry prays a sweet, comforting prayer for my peace and for discernment and to feel God’s grace.  Tessa prays for me and my ex-husband because she’s friends with both of us.  Rachel, Larry’s wife,  prays in tongues.  She chants the same short phrase over and over for what seems like ten minutes. None of us know what it means, not even her. I confess my sin of divorce for the hundredth time. We’re all crying when they’re done.

I believed I would be delivered.  I wanted to be delivered.  I wasn’t.  I walked away from that dining room table feeling just as guilty, just as depressed, and just as alone as I did when we started.  Nothing changed.