Here’s what the group asked Elnora, and what they heard her say:
Q. (From Dot) Is there one thing that people say or ask that never stops being hurtful?
A. It isn’t so much what people say, but what they don’t say; she deals with the feeling of being excluded. “Couples get together but they don’t invite you.” And it doesn’t really help to label people as “the divorced people.” Just invite them when you’re doing something together.
Q. (From Mim) Are there stages in dealing with your divorce — with the grief and challenges?
A. Definitely. In the first years, when the kids were young, she had to be careful about how she related to her friends’ husbands. Coming to a stage of identity in Christ was “a healing stage.” Mim says, “I had a clear sense that she’s very comfortable in her identity in Christ.”
Q. (From Carla) When people assume you have a husband, what is your response?
A. She’s learned that she doesn’t have to take responsibility for someone else’s offense (in this case, her ex-husband’s). Carla laughs as she repeats Elnora’s response to assumptions about her husband: “He lives with his other wife.”
Dot adds an additional possible response: “She can have him!” Turning to Elnora, she asks, “Did you have to move from feeling his rejection to ‘Well, I reject him, too!’ as part of your healing?”
Elnora says, “Absolutely. I could not even have said that (‘She can have him!’) ten years ago.”
Louella asks, “So you really do feel that you are over it?”
Elnora: “For the most part. I do dread the question my grandchildren will ask me: ‘Why doesn’t he live with you?'”
Lynette: “Do you use the phrase ‘over it’?”
Elnora: “I’m more likely to say, ‘It’s okay now.'” Her boys say their father is like a distant relative to them now. They also say “we wouldn’t be the people we are without this; we’re better.”
Q. (From Martha) How do you handle men’s advances?
A. She walks away or she puts an object between herself and the man. Once, in her work at the hospital, she wheeled a machine between herself and the patient on the bed who was behaving inappropriately. “She makes a conscious decision not to flirt,” says Martha.
Q. (From Naomi) How did you conquer the rejection and shame?
A. Naomi: “You conquered through your identity in Christ.”
Elnora: “It’s all about forgiveness . . . You have to give up the right to revenge, and also the right to know why.”
Naomi: “There is no answer to sin.”
Elnora: “Forgiveness is giving up the answer to the whys.”
Q. (From Sabrina) Do you have trouble trusting men?
A. She finds it easier and safer to trust married men, if their wives are supportive.
Later, Elnora reflects: “My identity is no longer in who I am as a divorced woman, but it is in who I am in Christ. That has brought freedom to me . . . Probably one of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far in life is that life is not about me, it is about Jesus and who he is. For example, if I feel like I am hurt by something that happens, it truly is not about me, it is about Jesus. I can turn it over to him, and that is how I find healing and peace and joy — in him.”
Readers, what would you like to ask Elnora?