Unwelcome at the Table

I’ve been out pulling weeds with a million thoughts swirling. I found myself humming and singing an old hymn as I pondered who I am and how I came to be this way. I often hold back from sharing things for fear of sounding unkind or bitter when, in truth, I’m really not either, at least I’m not anymore. I am, though, most certainly, forever carved into the person I am by the experiences I’ve had, and maybe it is necessary to lay it all out for benefit of others who have walked their own hard roads and need encouragement. If for no other reason, maybe my own children and their children can better understand MamaGranny by reading the words that define a life and have made me the kind of mother and grandmother that I am.

Those early years of loss cannot be overstated. Devastation from family grief – the unspeakable already happened and everyone left to pick up the pieces, dividing up blame and living wounds that scar the young the most. When children see their caregivers broken, there’s a natural anxiety reaction that takes root and underpins each day, and the roots of that anxiety grow with the child – ultimately branching and leafing into all sorts of thoughts and feelings that color their world in shades of grays and blues and bleak. They need more sunshine than the rest just to give enough light to see any hope at all. It’s true.

I stumbled right through school – first through eighth grades provided two years that weren’t a mess, just two of the eight approached anything akin to “normal.” The rest was a blur of awkward interactions with teachers, administrators, and peers that left me knowing for sure that I was different and my kind of different was not the kind anyone sought out. It was, instead, the kind to avoid, and I knew it – they had no idea what to do with me and I was a bother better ignored…

The train wreck of my teenage marriage was not doomed by age alone. Many have made a successful go of young marriage, but I was not a typical teen. I had not walked on sure footing all the way to that early marriage – far from it, and everyone knew. They knew of all the years of chaos and grief and inability to achieve well-being, and yet I was launched like a rocket into a world I could never accommodate. And from there ground gave way to a freefall many years’ steep.

Divorcing early-to-mid twenties (I say it this way because there are a few years of upheaval that leave little by way of memory other than a blur), I dug my way out of difficulties one shaky choice after another until I felt I was beginning again as much as this life allows. I had to. I cannot explain it nor do I have the energy or desire to in this format given the complexity and personal nature of what I endured. As I write this and remember, I whisper, “only Jesus” because He alone knows it all…

During that awful time, I had opportunity to learn the truth of God’s faithfulness. Though “in the wrong” from everything I had ever been taught, His Spirit and presence comforted me. I puzzled at His love that didn’t let go. See, in our church the divorced and remarried cannot be a “member” of the church. What this means is that you cannot take part in communion, and you can come and will be treated well except for the fact that you cannot “belong.” Confusing, but…it is the rules. Interestingly, many who can and do “belong” choose not to take part in communion. It is not like many churches have it. In our church communion is part of the foot-washing service – a solemn remembrance of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet at the last supper. It is one of the most humbling experiences when the ladies gather on one side of the church and men on the other and they take turns washing their brothers’ and sisters’ feet. This is done after scripture is read of when Jesus gave the example and said, “as oft as you do this, do it in remembrance of Me.” I loved getting so close to Jesus by bowing low to wash a sister’s feet knowing this is how tenderly He held those in His presence, how He proved His intimate care…

In the altar at the front of the church, a table is set with the bread, wine, pans, and towels. Only those in good standing with church rules are welcome to take part. I’ve visited church many times since remarrying after my divorce. People are kind enough, but I always know, and they know, too, that I am not welcome at the table. I love them. I do. But I know that Jesus has not vacated my temple (my body.) His Word says He engraved my name, an old sinner, a needy child, on the palm of His Hand and promised to never forsake me. So I did not continue to go. I cannot. I can pray for them, oh and I do. But I cannot go knowing the contradiction between Christ Himself and the keepers of what they would say is “His” table.

I learned so much from this life journey I am on. And I admit I am SO tired. I am wrung out and worn out and grieving over so much loss and so much wrong and so much more… At this point, I could care less what anyone thinks of me other than hoping they might listen to the lessons learned that need to be heeded for the sake of many who will come after me. I trust almost no one. I didn’t as a child, and then for a short time as an adult I did only to find out people will let you down. It is human nature for people to draw their swords in battle, to choose up sides, to gossip and slander and to find ways to elevate themselves in their own minds by denigrating others. But the presence of The Holy Spirit convicts us and corrects us; humbles us and changes us, right?

I can mark time by the many sit downs I’ve had with people in positions of authority who live one thing and preach/teach another. I’ve borne the wounds of those kinds and watched my children endure and then bear the same. I’ve pleaded, prayed with, and tried reasoning through all kinds of things with so many, and now I just pull weeds by myself and sing of Jesus. I draw near to Him in the garden and He graciously communes in this old worn out Mama’s heart with His gentle blessings. He reminds me of how He was cast out, too, and He was and is perfect. The truth of the matter is – no one is worthy to sit at His table except for His righteousness that He gives. See that? No one is worthy – no not one. And yet…

The song I was singing this morning when all of this came to mind to write is this:

“I’m so glad I’ve learned to trust Him; precious Jesus – Savior, Friend.

And I know that Thou art with me – will be with me to the end.”

And that is enough for me.

Maybe I had to hurt all the way til now to speak the truth that hurts so many hearts and lives. I’ve read and pondered the scriptures and wept and repented over my very real sins, but I see there where scriptures says for “Each one to examine himself” before taking part in communion. It is there for a purpose. Like everything Jesus did, there is grace to be found in His handling of all things; His way is the way of grace and truth.

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